For years, AI has been a widely discussed and highly anticipated technology trend, often hailed as a groundbreaking innovation. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, has gone so far as to liken it to the most profound advancements in human history, surpassing even fire and electricity in its potential impact.
But it wasn’t until the momentous launch of ChatGPT that AI finally broke through to the mainstream, captivating the attention of people around the world. Everyone from kids to CEOs got a glimpse of what that impact could look like.
Earlier in the year, my 10-year-old son delivered a speech about Microsoft’s Chat GPT to his fourth-grade class. In the corporate world, as per a recent McKinsey Global Survey, one-third of executives use generative AI regularly in at least one business function and nearly one-quarter of C-suite executives use generative AI tools at work. These statistics underscore the imminent revolution poised to sweep across various industries and aspects of our lives.
While there’s no doubt that 2023 has marked a landmark year for AI, I often find myself contemplating the implications of AI for PR professionals, especially those in the tech industry. Here are some key considerations:
Lead with the impact
The fact that a product is powered by AI alone doesn’t make it news. The AI tech news cycle is at its peak, so it’s important to lead by explaining how AI benefits users. Drawing from lessons of the “Cloud War” era, it’s crucial to center AI storytelling around its tangible impact on people’s lives. Effective storytelling can make complex AI concepts more accessible to a broader audience, including customers, investors and the general public.
Focus on uniqueness
Companies not central to the AI industry should maximize AI’s potential to support business goals rather than feeling compelled to join the AI conversation simply because it’s trending. For example, there’s little benefit to making a public announcement just to inform key stakeholders that you have embedded AI into your business processes or platforms. Why? Because it’s now considered table stakes. Instead, use resources to highlight what sets your company apart.
Address the unintended consequences
Generative AI brings along numerous risks, including concerns about job displacement, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, misinformation proliferation and biased AI training models affecting diversity. Companies deeply involved in AI should be prepared to address these issues and actively work to mitigate risks. This could involve training AI models on more diverse data, developing policies that govern the use of generative AI and investing in reskilling and retraining programs. It’s important for communications not only to support but drive such initiatives to help control the unintended consequences of this revolutionary technology.
Consider joining or establishing an industry coalition
These alliances can effectively leverage the combined strengths of diverse stakeholders to promote responsible AI advancement and tackle the complex challenges linked to its creation and implementation. Collaborative efforts within these coalitions have the potential to yield more impactful research, enhance governance and ensure the safe and beneficial integration of AI into our lives. Notable examples include the Partnership on AI, committed to responsible AI development and use; the Allen Institute for AI, focused on accelerating AI research and development; and the Global AI Alliance, dedicated to promoting responsible and inclusive AI.
Be mindful of the relationship between AI and ESG
ESG principles and AI can sometimes be at odds when certain AI practices or applications conflict with ESG goals and values. Organizations need to carefully consider how their AI initiatives align with ESG goals and actively work to mitigate any negative impacts. This might involve implementing energy-efficient AI technologies, implementing fair and unbiased AI algorithms, promoting ethical data practices and engaging stakeholders in AI decision-making processes. Balancing the benefits of AI with ESG principles is an ongoing challenge, but it’s essential for responsible and sustainable AI adoption.
Continually challenge yourself and your executives to envision what comes next. Each groundbreaking technology opens the door to the next one. The way the Internet opened the door to the cloud, and then the way the cloud opened the door to AI and machine learning—all within less than 30 years. So, what’s the next one? Will quantum be the next household name?
And finally, a tip that applies to all communicators, even beyond the ones working in the technology industry:
Embrace your reinvention
Have you heard the idea that staying relevant often means reinventing yourself approximately every five years? This concept, popularized by well-known blogger and author James Altucher, emphasizes the rapidly changing nature of the world. Without continual reinvention, one risks becoming obsolete. As AI rapidly transforms the PR industry, the time for communicators to reinvent themselves is now.
We’ve witnessed AI automating tasks like media monitoring and content creation, analyzing vast datasets for audience insights, measuring impact more accurately, and helping with ideation. Some companies even employ cognitive AI to predict audience behaviors. Keeping up with the latest AI-powered tools, experimenting with new applications and refining your prompt writing will be critical for future success.
Are you excited about AI’s future? Share your thoughts with us at: [email protected]
Thekla Eftychiadou is a Senior Partner in technology at FINN Partners.