Still in its “wild west” phase, it’s hard to say how profoundly AI will impact the future of PR. We’re getting an idea of what we want it to do, but that’s based on where the wunderkind tech is right now as we hit the homestretch for the blurry year of 2023. As a result, the newly released 8th edition of the USC Annenberg Relevance Report won’t be relevant for long, predicts Fred Cook, director of the USC Center for Public Relations. But today, it definitely is.
This edition of the Relevance Report is a collection of forward-looking essays authored by PR leaders, academics, and students about the use of AI as a tool in public relations, corporate communications, and marketing. Essay examples from the report appear below.
“Everyone in communications is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI),” writes Cook. “This was not the case in 2019 when the Center for PR surveyed professionals and found only 18 percent thought that AI would be an important part of their future business. In 2023, in a survey we developed with WE Communications, that number grew to 80 percent. Six months later, AI is a topic at every conference, a debate at every agency and the focus of this report.”
From companies that are experimenting with its use, to students who are actively using tools to enhance their creativity output, the report examines how communicators can incorporate AI into their everyday work, while addressing ethical and legal issues that accompany every new technology, like cultural bias, misinformation, and job loss.
“This year’s Relevance Report isn’t intended to be a map for our AI journey. Right now, no one can accurately predict which road our future will take,“ says Cook, in a news release. “Think of it as an invitation. Inviting you to enter an uncharted territory and explore its possibilities.”
The USC Center for Public Relations is based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.