Public relations is evolving into an industry driven by data. With so much data, artificial intelligence (AI) plays an inevitable part in sifting through it all. Though the future of public relations will include AI, Jon Iwata, in his interview with PRSA, provided a wise warning to proceed ethically and with caution. He stated that “AI should be a partner, not a leader, to PR practitioners.”

AI’s Role in the Future of Public Relations

Artificial Intelligence's role in the future of public relationsAs Iwata pointed out, “AI can cause people to feel wonder and hope, but also give people anxiety.” This is not a man versus machine situation. The role of AI isn’t to replace practitioners, but to help them work more effectively in their current roles. It should be looked at as a new tool that requires the practitioner to develop new skills.

Practitioner’s Role with AI

Practitioners should always be in control of AI and their own data. Not only that, but they should provide complete transparency of what is being done with the data. People should know when they are interacting with AI and what data is being ingested and where it’s going to be used.

Practitioner’s Role in the Future of Public Relations

Jon Iwata warned against the over dependency of AI. If you are in control of the AI then you need to decide what you will do with it. He offered brilliant advice on how practitioners can learn what other companies are doing with it. Those lengthy user agreements that nobody reads… read them. They will tell you what other companies are doing with it; which can help you apply those ideas to your own practice.

The AI technology is still evolving. You must think critically and deeply to identify the best ways to use the technology. Critical thinking is an essential skill. Nobody is going to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. Observe the world around you and think about what kinds of data is being collected. You should then think about how that data can be used. How can you apply these observations to your practice?

by Alex Twiss

Alex Twiss is a graduating senior who was recently named the 2018 Outstanding CCPA Student in Public Relations and Strategic Communication.