AI dominates media and PR trend talk at SXSW 2018

by | Mar 16, 2018 | Public Relations

The annual SXSW Conference in Austin is a notorious hotbed of new tech innovations and trends for business, and PR and marketing communications is often bountifully served. This year’s event has certainly been no exception. Artificial intelligence has particularly gotten loads of attention, both is the form of tech-advancing insights and burgeoning conspiracy theories—but despite Elon Musk’s dire warning of AI’s imminent danger, where he declared that “AI is far more dangerous than nukes,” plenty of useful info was presented.

One big topic was AI-powered assistants, and the way they are redefining home life as well as things like retail, travel and all-around convenience. Of course, this includes comms topics like service, support and improving the customer experience. As you’ll see below, some presenters talked about how AI will assist with content creation for marketers and journalists.

From product design and manufacturing to data and consumer behavior, a panel of experts from Mashable, Adidas, McKinsey and more discussed the significance of AI in industries today and what’s in store for the future. As retail continues to evolve, “companies will need to rely on automation, AI and other innovative technologies to transform the way they make, move and market products,” the panelists claimed during an event titled, “We Want It Now: The Future of AI is in Your Hands.”

For its TechQuest event, Juice Pharma Worldwide got into the trends game with some instructive videos on several topics, including AI. Digital strategist Kofi Annan spoke about how AI is impacting the content creation landscape, pointing out that 80 percent of content creators are using AI technology in the creation process. Of course, AI is not replacing humans in this role, but accenting the process by getting rid of some of the more repetitive tasks involved.

Annan also talked about how major media sources use AI to create resonating content, and content marketers use it to process data and previous content from those sources to create personalized content for their audiences—which drives content engagement across channels.

Juice Pharma’s Natalie Sayegh more broadly talked about how you can make your brand stand out in the digital age. With today’s connected-consumer trend, customer focus is key to giving your brand visibility among countless others like them, she said. Brands must ask themselves, “What does doing business with us allow our customers to say about their personal brand?”

With video becoming a huge platform for brand communications, Juice Pharma agency director Adam Kline talked about YouTube’s role in engagement today, discussing the length of short-form and long-form brand videos, demonstrating via classic fairy tales how six-second and fifteen-second videos are most appropriate for short-form purposes, and 1-2 minutes for long-form. He also talked about how video quality can be a sink-or-swim factor for engagement.

Creative producer Kyleigh Dooley talked about engaging consumers with video content. While 70 percent view content on the go, about 20 percent are able to give more time and attention to the brand video they see, and 10 percent will actually sit down and watch a long-form video—so video content creators must think about all three groups with their message targeting.

Another big trend this year was the topic of media trust

A new study done at the beginning of SXSW by Edelman, based on the firm’s recently released Trust Barometer, found that while trust in the media is declining around the globe, 61 percent of the SXSW community said they trust the media, compared to 43 percent globally. Further, only 14 percent believe the institution of media is broken beyond repair, 25 points less than the global audience.

The SXSW community is actually more trusting of traditional media (84 percent trust vs. 62 percent globally) than of platforms like search engines (44 percent trusted vs. 61 percent globally) and social media (20 percent trusted vs. 40 percent globally).

“Higher levels of trust in media from the SXSW community indicate a greater sensibility for credible news sources which is a good sign for the industry,” said Jess Clifton, U.S. Head of Digital for Edelman, in a news release. “But skepticism from this very plugged-in community about government, business, social media and technology serves as a challenge to leaders, businesses and innovators alike.”

The trust disconnect at SXSW wasn’t limited to media—the survey results showed that only 31 percent of the SXSW community trusts businesses, which is 21 percentage points lower than the global audience (52 percent). And while they distrust business, they trust government even less with only 26 percent reporting trust in government, which is 17 points less than global respondents.

“The SXSW community is made of visionaries, creatives and change makers, so we have a history of challenging the status quo,” said Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, in the release. “We see this data as not only reflective of optimism about our role in improving society, but as a potential indicator of broader future trends.”

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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