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PR Beyond AI: We Must Replace Ourselves

As PR professionals, it's our job to ease the replacement process.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

What will PR beyond AI look like?

Living in rapidly evolving times, I sometimes think about what purpose we PR professionals have in society.

Public relations haven’t played a clear role in the AI revolution for nearly a decade, but as society evolves, we must adapt, too.

But how?

The Phases of the AI Revolution

One of many ways to think about how our world got industrialised is to think of it in three overlapping phases:

Phase I: Liberating Humans

The industrial revolution liberated society from a less civilised (and much poorer) agrarian lifestyle.

Phase II: Utilising Humans

The industrial revolution utilised society by schooling us into utilitarian single-output instruments.

Phase III: Replacing Humans

Finally, the AI revolution will replace the last human in favour of better machines.

For better or worse, public relations is a lubricant for the interface between the industrial systems and real people engaged in producing and consuming. As a profession, this is how we have found our role in the greater scheme of societal development.

Of course, this simplified view of the industrial revolution is, in many ways, provocative. This perspective places the digital transformation not as a separate revolutionary shift but as the natural outcome of the industrialisation process (i.e. Phase III).

Read also: How To Write About AI: A Beginner’s Guide

The Existential PR Challenge

Being the interface between industrial efforts and humans, PR has always found itself at the intersection between objectives and ethics.

But as we’re well underway transitioning beyond AI. We face an almost existential challenge as we must replace humans rather than utilise them.

For me, as a PR professional, two pertinent questions spring to mind:

  • As PR professionals, is it our job to ease the replacement process by managing humans while AI machines slowly take over?
  • If so, will it be our last job as PR professionals to “see ourselves out” before “turning off the lights” and handing over the “office keys” to autonomous communication protocols?

For two decades now, whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, I’ve replied, “I help organisations to communicate better.” That, to me, has always felt like an accurate and meaningful answer.

But what is a meaningful answer for the coming two decades?

Artificial intelligence, visual art, highly detailed - PR Beyond AI
AI art. Prompt: “Artificial intelligence, visual art, highly detailed.”

PR Beyond AI: An Optimist’s Outlook

The use of PR to facilitate and establish the foundation of a more prosperous and advanced society was always just a stepping stone. Transforming humanity into replaceable parts of AI processes is probably an irreversible outcome.

Historically, societal progress has often meant that humans have been freed to think, communicate, and create. And it’s usually in these rare and inspired times of enlightenment that we take great strides towards discovering meaning, creating art, and understanding the universe.

And in an enlightened post-industrialised society, excellent communication skills will be as valued as they are today. Perhaps even more.

For PR to move beyond the AI revolution one day is not a failure — it’s an accomplishment.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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