Professional communicators need to get to grips with AI

Professional communicators need to get to grips with AI

A new report highlights an artificial intelligence (AI) knowledge gap in public relations. The CIPR is helping its members square up to the challenge.

It’s too early to identify best practice for AI communication. Practitioners need to step up and take personal responsibility for learning and development. This includes exploring the impact of AI on society and communication workflow.

These are the headlines from the Communicating Artificial Intelligence Survey 2019. The CIPR #AIinPR panel that I chair supported the study.

This is the second AI report by the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence. You can download a full copy of the report by following this link.

The majority of survey respondents (84%) believe AI is opportunity for communication leadership. The same number felt that advocacy for AI tools is an important role for professionals.

Yet two-thirds of respondents (63%) claim that the industry isn’t preparing professionals. Only a quarter believe that they are ready for the challenge.

“It’s time to ask ourselves some very tough questions. Questions about our capabilities and our role as strategic advisers. We also need to ask how we are adopting AI tools,” said Adrian Cropley, lead author and founder, Strategic Communication Excellence.

The report identifies what communicators are seeing and doing about AI. It tells two stories. The first is about professionals communicating about AI. The second is about those observing AI related communication.

“The report shows that as many professionals are observing AI as are being involved. We must lead the deployment and application of this powerful technology in organisations,” said Anne Gregory, Professor of Corporate Communication, University of Huddersfield.

AI and organisational communication strategies

Strategic business issues are driving respondents communicating about AI. The need for AI related communication is being driven by marketing and operations.

Survey respondents highlighted the following communication strategies.

  • AI messages (28%)

  • Identify the AI business need (24%)

  • Set AI communication objectives (12%)

Lessons in AI communication

Respondents to the Communicating Artificial Intelligence Survey recommended AI communication tools and vendors used in their own daily practice.

Practitioners reported that they are currently using content aggregators, media monitoring tools and chat bots. They plan to adopt content generation, virtual reality, data collection and evaluation tools.

28% of survey respondents said self-learning was the best means of getting to grips with AI. The steep learning curve and complex AI concepts are the biggest challenges.

The impact of AI begins on society of the communication function is undeniable. Practitioners need to get to grips with the impact on organisational discourse and their own workflow.

Insights gained from the survey will inform a playbook for communication professionals. The playbook, to be published later in the year by the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence, will act as a learning tool for the organisational communication function.

AI learning resources published by the CIPR

The CIPR has published two webinars to help members understand the application of AI and machine learning in business and PR.

The first webinar AI Through the Looking Glass, is delivered by the Founder of the Southampton Data Science Academy, Regius Professor Dame Wendy Hall. It reveals the evolution of AI, as well as the challenges and opportunities it presents for business and society. 

The second webinar AI and Data Science - Are you ready?, features insight from four AI leaders - including the CIPR's #AIinPR Panel Vice-Chair Kerry Sheehan Chart.PR, MCIPR - on topics including how AI affects public relations practice.

Follow this link to access the CIPR’s learning webinars.

Method: Communicating Artificial Intelligence Survey 2019

The Communicating Artificial Intelligence Survey 2019 is based on a quantitative online survey. Communication professionals responded between February and March 2019. The total number of respondents was 172.

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