AIinPR issues stark call to PR industry – Upskill or risk getting left behind

The #AIinPR panel has issue a stark call to PR practitioners to ‘upskill or risk getting left behind and harming the future of our profession’ as global research clearly shows public relations is not ready for artificial intelligence.

The call comes following an intensive12-month global research project carried out by the CIPR Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations panel, which has been looking at serious literature on artificial intelligence and its impact on the professions.

After looking at close to 200 global publications on artificial intelligence in the professions (to date) in detail, the AIinPR global panel has drawn some pretty painful conclusions about our own readiness for the AI world as a profession.

In short, we are not ready for artificial intelligence and we’ve hardly begun.

Anne Gregory, renowned PR academic and AIinPR panel member, who has lead the research project said: “Public relations is significantly behind the curve – in fact we are sleep walking into AI.

“Other professions have already done major work on the shape of their future workforce, reviewing education and training, looking at their future role in organisations and society and at the ethics of AI. We need to get cracking, and get on with some serious work in all these areas.”

As well as encouraging communicators to upskill into data, artificial intelligence and  machine learning in our own roles but also in our role as strategic advisors advising business and organisations on AI deployment from the outset – we are not in our own swim lanes anymore – the AIinPR panel will be publishing an ‘AI Literature Repository’ where you can see all the books, academic literature, Government Reports and think tank stuff on AI and also see the major themes that have been identified.

The AIinPR panel would like communicators, across the globe, to add to this huge piece of work by letting the AIinPR panel know about any other serious literature that talks about AI and the professions. We’re especially looking for material on the public relations profession.

All you need to do is tell us the source of the work, provide an academic abstract or a short description – no more than 50 words and the URL. Add it to the Google document here:

This final AIinPR repository will be launched at The Turing Institute on 16 January where they and the Government Office for AI are set to join the conversation on AIinPR’s call to the PR profession.

We will also launch the AIinPR 2020 plan, at the event, which will include new AIinPR panel members from the AI and tech industries to help drive the PR and communication industry further forward.

The new Chair of the AIinPR Panel Kerry Sheehan, will lead this, taking over from Stephen Waddington who has driven our work on AI over the last two years.

Kerry said: “Our professions research on AI makes really stark reading for the PR profession as it shows that once again, just like throughout history, we are way behind on adopting any innovation, let alone tech innovation and at scale.

If, as a profession we do not educate ourselves on AI, increasing our awareness, as a minimum and do not upskill into data, AI and machine learning we really will risk getting left behind.

“As the ones who provide a strategic management function driving business, profiles, profits and purpose; and, more importantly, the ones who should be best placing and promoting AI to aid the public’s adoption of good AI to realise its benefits, we have a vital role to play  – we need to take this seriously.

“It’s clear not enough practitioners are upskilling quick enough into AI and that needs to change.”

Kerry added: “I’m really proud to be leading the AIinPR panel, picking up from Stephen Waddington.

“Stephen has been a key driver in our work, which has already gained global recognition, and whilst Stephen will step aside to concentrate on his PR research work he will still be a valued member of our panel.

“We are determined to encourage our profession, across the globe, to really own the AI agenda. It’s in our hands but more need to do more to upskill today, not tomorrow as AI is here and the other professions are ahead of us, as our research clearly shows.”

More information on the CIPR’s AIinPR work, which has included the globally-leading ‘Humans Still Needed’ research; contributing to UK Government and European Commission reports on AI; and working with the technology and AI development industries across the world at

Photo by Branko Stancevic on Unsplash


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