NEW research from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has found that up to 40 per cent of tasks performed by public relations professionals are now assisted by AI tools. The report reveals that, while the adoption of AI tools has accelerated, they are still not widely used even though they make task execution more efficient and effective.
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The latest report from the CIPR’s AI in PR Panel – Humans Needed More Than Ever – finds that despite the increase in tool development and offers, there is little evidence that wholesale job replacement is underway. Instead, it reports most public relations tasks are being infused with AI. The report concludes that as adoption accelerates, low-level and entry-level tasks are being displaced, creating an opportunity for a profession-wide strategic shift in focus. Threats to jobs, it argues, are largely due to upskilling being required.
Authored by Professor Emeritus Anne Gregory, Jean Valin, and Dr Swati Virmani, the report revisits the panel’s 2018 Humans Still Needed report that highlighted the need for public relations professionals to have a strong understanding of technology and data analytics to remain competitive in the communications sector. The new report argues practitioners will have a role in advising on governance issues about the ethical use of AI and the regulatory issues that surround it. Currently, only two in five practitioners (39 per cent) claim to understand the ethical implications when using AI.
The authors matched AI enabled tasks against the Global Capability Framework which scopes out the range of responsibilities of public relations professionals. It reveals that task-based work such as data analysis and content creation lends itself to AI applications. However, professional capabilities such as ethical decision-making, being a trusted adviser to senior managers where judgement is required, and offering leadership, are not yet as amenable to AI applications.
Professor Gregory (pictured) said, “We are at a pivotal juncture. With the emergence of tools like Chat GPT, the public relations profession has started to evolve in the age of AI, albeit with low adoption and some justifiable caution. There is a very real need to not only harness AI tools effectively but to use this opportunity to assume a more strategic role. This involves advising on governance issues, particularly the ethical use of AI and the complex regulatory and reputational landscape we are about to encounter. When it comes to the use of AI, we rapidly need to understand the implications for our own profession. Education and training at pace and scale is urgently needed.”
Valin added, “Our 2018 research found that as technology reshapes our profession, the enduring value of human skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence were still in demand. Today’s report cements that thinking. Five years ago we warned the profession needs to widely adapt to the ever-increasing world of AI through the adoption of tools and the ethical and governance implications of their use. This report suggests that this has not happened quickly enough. The landscape has changed but the message stays the same; adapt and thrive or refuse to evolve and watch the doomsday predictions of job losses become real.”
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