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Optimism and fear: AI and the PR sector

As Chair of the CIPR's AI in PR Panel and co-author of the Report, we are delighted to share with you the just published “AI and Big Data Readiness Report: Assessing the Public Relations Profession’s Preparedness for an AI Future”. Many members of CIPR International contributed to the survey and some of you sent in your personal views on this important topic too. So, a huge thank you to you. You can see where respondents came from below and although it’s heavily skewed towards Europe and North America reflecting the support given by the CIPR and our US partners the Page Society, it is great to see such a big response from other continents.

This is the largest scale attempt to date to understand where the PR sector globally stands on the opportunities and threats presented by AI. AI is already impacting every aspect of PR, from strategic planning to writing content to evaluation. So we don’t believe it is an exaggeration to say that anyone who wants to have a valued and meaningful career in PR in the coming years should pay great attention to the implications and recommendations from this report.

So what does it tell us?

It finds a significant number of PR practitioners worldwide have limited knowledge of AI and lack confidence in using it (43.2%), compared with only a small number who feel “very comfortable” (13.9%). However, practitioners are optimistic and have an eagerness to learn. Their challenge is that they don't know what they need to know and they don’t know where to start.

Other findings include:

  • 41.5% of respondents claim to understand what AI as a technology means but do not consider themselves technical.

  • Over one-in-three (38.9%) PR practitioners feel ‘excited’ about AI, compared to just 3.9% who feel ‘overwhelmed’

  • 30% of practitioners are familiar with AI technology but don’t feel confident applying their knowledge to their role.

  • One in five practitioners (20.7%) feel very comfortable using data and analytics in their role, compared to just 8.2% of those who feel the same about AI.

  • Around one in five practitioners are familiar with the relevance of both AI and Big Data to the communications profession.

There is clearly a mix of optimism and fear in the PR industry about AI. Excitement at the potential and possibilities – and concern that the role of the practitioner will be eroded. But knowing where to start and a lack of time, training, and skills seems to be putting a brake on progress. However, doing nothing is not an option either.

Andrew Bruce Smith – Chair AIinPR Panel

Professor Anne Gregory – Co-author, AI, and Big Data Readiness Report


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