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News And Views

News & Views

  • 2 September 2019
  • Madeline Robinson

CommsCon Insights: 5 key takeaways for the communications industry

In the hopes of deepening my understanding of how the communications industry can better prepare for Artificial Intelligence (AI), I attended CommsCon Insights, hosted by Cision at The Ministry of Sound. The event concentrated on comms measurement and proving ROI in an era where AI and machine learning are looking to transform the PR industry. The event also looked at the importance of maximising authenticity, humanity and creativity in PR as these technologies continue to evolve.

Projected to become a $190 billion industry by 2025, AI is already primed and ready to disrupt. Here’s five key things I took away from the event:

Impact on human emotion is the most important KPI

It’s harder to measure than pieces of coverage, but public relations still rests on the shoulders of human emotion and impactful rhetoric. While numbers are important, businesses need to stay focussed on tapping into human emotion in order to get real cut through with their audiences.

AI and Machine Learning (ML) don’t need to take away from the human experience, and businesses should focus on the power of these technologies to enhance it. For example, Samsung has recently introduced an app that helps children with autism make eye contact, to improve their social skills, through artificially intelligent tracking.

One line from the event that really stuck with me: “Think less about the number of pieces of coverage you want to land, and more about the stories you want to tell.”

The biggest risk to the development of AI is fear

Emma Thwaites, CEO of Thwaites Communications, began by saying that fearing technology is nothing new. For example, it was a popular belief in the 1800s that anyone travelling faster than 30mph would be instantly killed, which hampered the development of railways.

What this shows is that while the implications of all these technologies can be scary, we need to face them head on. The impact that AI will have on the future means that conversations about it are not ones we should shy away from.

We all have a responsibility

As new technologies continue to test each and every industry, it’s crucial that we all take the time to learn about them. Not just so that we can give the best advice possible to clients, but so we can speak up and be arbiters of technology ourselves.

AI may soon affect every aspect of our lives: how we shop, how we’re hired, how we’re taught and do our jobs. It’s only right that we educate ourselves, and not expect others to be experts for us. The best version of the future will be one we’ve all educated ourselves about and raised our voice on.

Start small with integration

We are still in the early stages of experimentation with AI, so it’s worth considering what you can do for your own business and start by integrating it into projects.

Have a think about which aspects of your business might be improved by automation and AI, for example, through the introduction of chatbots to transform customer experience. Draw from other businesses to discover the best applications of technology. As Lucy Linthwaite of IBM noted, a “learning and testing” approach works best.

Bias in data is inevitable, mitigating it is not

Data sets will continue to be a source of error, so we must ensure that we’re making ourselves and our clients aware of this. We should constantly review and tweak our approaches to everything in order to continue learning and growing. AI and ML is no different. There are ways to root out errors. Data sets, in smaller samples, can be layered with elements of machine learning, which can be told to identify when larger sets contain bias.

When it comes to AI and how it will interact with our lives, we must all consider the perils of what will happen if we ignore our collective responsibility to mitigate bias. Teaching AI systems a more ethical version of the world is not just the moral thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.