Views: AI can change our businesses as well as our processes

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WHERE there are threats, there are opportunities to de-risk. AI is an opportunity for the PR industry to continue to evolve; to embrace how technology can help us be faster and more effective in our work, writes Laura Sutherland, development director at 3×1 Group.

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It’s also an opportunity to review models, processes and businesses. I believe this is required on a regular basis in any case but when there are transformation programmes taking place across digital, inclusion and technology investment, there’s no time like the present. 

In some ways it’s a way to invest to save and help futureproof. For agencies, it’ll be a way to help them stand apart from the rest of agency land and if you’re first there, you can make your mark early on.

AI can change our businesses as well as our processes. We’ve been using AI for years. We’ve been automating emails, using tools to collect coverage links, tools to transcribe and take notes, this isn’t new. What will be new is how PR businesses and teams adopt the tech and change accordingly.

We need to break down our own workflows first to understand what jobs and processes are involved, where there are mistakes being made, what’s time consuming etc. Also understand where the opportunities lie for offering new services.

AI can help alleviate the issues of over-servicing and meeting unrealistic expectations and juniors burning out. We could see the weight shift from hiring more junior people for less money and seeing fewer less-experienced people, but they can be supported by AI. There will be more of an opportunity for strategic thinkers and those who will be doing more meaningful work. 

I don’t believe you can replace the intelligent work we do. We can use AI to help us, for example in crisis situations when we can simulate scenarios and review various responses and risks. 

Our roles are also fundamentally built on relationships. We can underestimate that ‘people buy from people’ but if we’re quicker at doing our work as a result, the client sees quicker results, and if we have more time for strategic thinking and planning, then our work will be more effective.

We can use AI to help train our teams and upskill them, helping futureproof our businesses. AI can also play a role in transparency when we’re producing reports etc.

Finally, AI will give us the opportunity to review and refine. Refine skills, services and models. By refining, we can specialise and be better.

Laura Sutherland is development director at 3×1 Group. She is a chartered practitioner with 23 years’ experience in integrated public relations and communication.

Before taking up the role at 3×1 in June 2023, Sutherland ran her own successful consultancy for 15 years, Aura, working with businesses and organisations on strategy and integration. She has also worked across all sectors and has gained valuable experience in-house.

Her corporate portfolio includes finance, renewables, property and aquaculture and she has also worked across many industries.

Sutherland is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and of the PRCA. She is a former CIPR board director and council member and former PRCA Council member.