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PR Beyond AI: A New Profession Emerging From the Rubble

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

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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What will PR bey­ond AI look like?

Living in rap­idly evolving times, I some­times think about pub­lic rela­tions and its soci­et­al purpose. 

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

But how?

The Industrial Revolution

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

  • Phase 1: Liberating Humans—The Industrial Revolution lib­er­ated soci­ety from a less civ­il­ised (and much poorer) agrari­an lifestyle.
  • Phase 2: Utilising Humans—The Industrial Revolution util­ised soci­ety by school­ing us into util­it­ari­an single-out­put instruments.
  • Phase 3: 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.

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?

Read also: The Reykjavik Press Release — ChatGPT

PR Beyond AI: An Optimist’s Outlook

The AI revolution in PR.
The AI revolu­tion in PR.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The AI Revolution: Transforming Public Relations

There are sev­er­al ways in which arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) is likely to impact the pub­lic rela­tions (PR) industry. Some poten­tial examples include:

  • More decision-level tasks, few­er pro­duc­tion-level tasks. AI-powered tools are used to auto­mate tasks such as media mon­it­or­ing, con­tent cre­ation, and social media man­age­ment. This could free up PR pro­fes­sion­als to focus on their work’s more stra­tegic and cre­at­ive aspects.
  • Improved ana­lys­is and bet­ter strategies. The devel­op­ment of AI-powered sys­tems that can ana­lyse large amounts of data to identi­fy trends and insights that can inform PR strategy and decision-making.
  • Using PR pro­fes­sion­als as AI train­ers. Using AI-powered chat­bots and vir­tu­al assist­ants to handle cus­tom­er inquir­ies and provide inform­a­tion to the pub­lic allows PR pro­fes­sion­als to scale PR training.
  • Better pub­li­city through inter­con­nectiv­ity. The cre­ation of AI-powered plat­forms and net­works that can facil­it­ate con­nec­tions and col­lab­or­a­tions between PR pro­fes­sion­als, journ­al­ists, pub­lics, influ­en­cers, and oth­er crit­ic­al stake­hold­ers in the industry.
  • Earlier detec­tions of poten­tial PR issues. AI-powered tools can help PR pro­fes­sion­als identi­fy and mit­ig­ate poten­tial crises by ana­lys­ing data and provid­ing early warn­ing sig­nals of poten­tial problems.
  • Increased edit­or­i­al out­put. In organ­isa­tions where the com­mu­nic­a­tions depart­ment is driv­ing the con­tent strategy, PR pro­fes­sion­als will have plenty of tools for increas­ing both the qual­ity and the quant­ity of the out­put. 1Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). The AI Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​i​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/

Overall, AI’s impact on the PR industry is likely to be sig­ni­fic­ant, with the poten­tial to revolu­tion­ise many aspects of how PR pro­fes­sion­als work and inter­act with stake­hold­ers, influ­en­cers, and pub­lics.

Read also: PR Beyond AI: A New Profession Emerging From the Rubble

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PR to facil­it­ate and estab­lish the found­a­tion of a more pros­per­ous and advanced soci­ety might have been 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.

In a 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 is not a fail­ure — it’s an accomplishment.

Read also: AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: The Electronic Age

The Electronic Age according to Marshall McLuhan.
The Electronic Age accord­ing to Marshall McLuhan.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The Electronic Age

Human cul­ture is often described based on our access to pro­duc­tion tech­no­lo­gies (e.g., the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age).

According to Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School of Communication Theory, a bet­ter ana­lys­is would be to view soci­et­al devel­op­ment based on the prom­in­ence of emer­ging com­mu­nic­a­tions technologies.

Marshall McLuhan - Cambridge University - Digital-First
Marshall McLuhan at Cambridge University, circa 1940.

McLuhan sug­gests divid­ing human civil­isa­tion into four epochs:

  • Oral Tribe Culture. Handwriting marks the begin­ning of the end of the Oral Tribe Culture. The Oral Tribe Culture per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Manuscript Culture. Printing marks the begin­ning of the end of the Manuscript Culture. The Manuscript Culture per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Gutenberg Galaxy. Electricity marks the begin­ning of the end of the Gutenberg Galaxy. The Gutenberg Galaxy per­sists but without its former prominence.
  • Electronic Age. Today, we reside in the Electronic Age. Possibly, we haven’t exper­i­enced the begin­ning of this age’s decline yet.

The Gutenberg Galaxy is a land­mark book that intro­duced the concept of the glob­al vil­lage and estab­lished Marshall McLuhan as the ori­gin­al ‘media guru’, with more than 200,000 cop­ies in print.”
Source: Modern Language Review 2McLuhan, M. (1963). The Gutenberg galaxy: the mak­ing of typo­graph­ic man. Modern Language Review, 58, 542. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​2​3​0​7​/​3​7​1​9​923

As a PR pro­fes­sion­al and lin­guist, I sub­scribe to the concept of the Electronic Age. My belief is that soci­ety is unlikely to revert to the Gutenberg Galaxy.

Thus, digit­al-first is the way for pub­lic rela­tions, too.

Read also: The Electronic Age and The End of the Gutenberg Galaxy

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PR Resource: Content Themes

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Content Themes

Let’s use a fic­ti­tious example of an IT com­pany. First, they decide on a core mes­sage for their con­tent strategy:

Core mes­sage: We make IT easy to understand.

Then, the IT com­pany breaks their core mes­sage down into four busi­ness-crit­ic­al con­tent themes:

Q1 Content Theme: We make people under­stand the Internet of Things (IoT).

Q2 Content Theme: We make people under­stand busi­ness auto­ma­tion.

Q3 Content Theme: We make people under­stand cloud com­put­ing.

Q4 Content Theme: We make people under­stand man­aged services.

For easy plan­ning and boost­ing SEO with con­tent sky­scrapers, you can cre­ate con­tent pack­ages for each theme.

Using con­tent themes comes with sev­er­al upsides:

  • Planning. Using con­tent themes makes it easi­er to plan your mes­saging for the year.
  • Visibility. Search engines love it when you pro­duce and pub­lish related content.
  • Growth. You’re provid­ing valu­able and ever­green con­tent on a niche topic.

Learn more: The Content Themes PR Strategy

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). The AI Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​i​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/
2 McLuhan, M. (1963). The Gutenberg galaxy: the mak­ing of typo­graph­ic man. Modern Language Review, 58, 542. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​2​3​0​7​/​3​7​1​9​923
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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