Thought Leadership

ICON 2023 Recap: Panelists Talk AI in Communications

AI Panel

For the closing General Session of ICON 2023 on Oct. 17, PRSA presented an AI Keynote Salon at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Focusing on “Today’s Tools, Future Projections and the Ethical Frontier,” PRSA CEO Linda Thomas Brooks moderated the panel featuring: Carmen San Segundo, global communications director of corporate social responsibility and sustainability, IBM; Aaron Kwittken, CEO, Stagwell Marketing Cloud, Comms Tech Unit; Cayce Myers, APR, Ph.D., professor and director of graduate studies, Virginia Tech; and Michelle Olson, APR, managing partner, Lambert.

In an era where technology is rapidly changing, topics ranged from AI in today’s PR landscape to the future of AI in public relations, as well as navigating the ethical maze and legal insights on AI as it relates to communications.

Here are a few insights and takeaways from this wide-ranging conversation:

Aaron Kwittken: We can’t talk about AI without talking about cultural shifts. We often focus on people and process, but we need to add technology to that, too. Use multiple platforms in order to advance all of this rather than focusing on only one.

Cayce Myers: There’s also a human element to AI. You have to bring something to the table, too. AI may not be something that’s going to totally replace communicators or communications processes — you will still have to get your message out.

Carmen San Segundo: Long-term is hard to see regarding AI. Managers that don’t use AI will be replaced by the ones that do use AI… All of us will have to be exposed to a more collaborative environment.

Michelle Olson: Ask yourself: ‘Am I transparent? Am I truthful? Am I honest?’ We are also telling ChatGPT to cite its findings for fact-checking purposes [at our agency]. Transparency and ethics are very important… I think we need to assume everyone here is using AI for good.

Kwittken: Some of the issues ahead with AI may be because of human error or complacency or laziness. You need to be the human that comes over the top to make it right… Focus on marrying art and science and bringing PR and AI together to get the greatest yield.

San Segundo: With AI and ethics, ask: ‘Is the model transparent? Is the model trustworthy? Are you empowered?’ Make sure it’s working for you, and you can explain how. Also make sure that the company is reliable, ethical and trustworthy so you won’t have issues in the future.

Myers: With AI and disclosure, there needs to be an understanding that the rules and regulations are still evolving — we don’t know what that will shape out to be yet. It’s a long-term investment, not just one training and done — you must continue to train.

Olson: We put out a POV [at our agency] on how to use AI and are offering professional development training to stay up to date. It’s important to read everything, train your teams and those around you to learn how to spot deep fakes, gut-check yourself and get smart about what these deep fakes look like.

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of Strategies & Tactics.

[Photo credit: jim cowsert/grapevine photo]

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Amy Jacques

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  • This article promotes awareness of the important role of AI in the media industry and also emphasizes the importance of using AI ethically and transparently. This is an important conversation for those working in this field to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills.

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