Stephen Waddington is the UK managing director of Metia, Visiting Professor of Practice in Public Relations at Newcastle University and an author of eight books on learning and development and modern aspects of marketing and public relations. He is also the chairman of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Artificial Intelligence panel which is characterizing the impact of machines on marketing and PR practice, the media, and conversation in the public sphere.
HOW WILL AI IMPACT THE COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSION?
We’re already seeing the application of AI in PR to enable us to work more efficiently and effectively. Identifying audiences, conversations, content development, media planning and analytics are all examples of where we’re applying technology in practice.
We’ll continue to see developments in each of these areas over the next five years, as well as improvements in workflow. We’re beginning to see efficiencies convert to a shift in skills that is driving PR into new areas rather than impacting jobs. I hope this innovation will continue.
HOW WILL AUDIENCES INTERACT WITH BRANDS AS AI USE INCREASES?
The personalization of content is the big promise of AI. The content served by a brand should be rooted in listening to its audience and understanding context at a moment in space and time.
There’s also an ethical judgement to be made between what’s possible and what’s appropriate to personal privacy. We’ve all got a story about being followed around the internet or being targeted by inappropriate content at a moment in time.
HOW WILL AI IMPACT HOW WE CRAFT, DISTRIBUTE, AND CONSUME CONTENT?
News organizations, such as the Associated Press and Reuters, are already using machines to write financial reports and sports results based on structured data sets. Search Google News for stories tagged This story was generated by Automated Insights, for examples.
RADAR AI in the UK goes a step further. It’s a service from the Press Association that produces multiple versions of a story based on open data sets published by local and national governments in the UK. The distribution of content is a work in progress. People are prepared to give up their data for improved targeting, but privacy remains a critical concern.
WHAT SHOULD ORGANIZATIONS CONSIDER WITH THE ADVANCEMENT OF AI?
The ethical use of data and algorithms are both potential issues for AI in society. Bias coded into a system will be exaggerated. These are issues being explored by legislators around the world.
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