Unlocking the value of AI requires honoring human connections

Earlier this month, my EMG-colleague Adriana Arezza and I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote presentation at our client OQ’s Leadership Workshop. The main topic of the event was customer centricity and our presentation focused on the role of the media in telling customer centric stories.

One of the trends we touched upon is the rise of Artificial Intelligence and the impact it has on customer centric initiatives. Without a doubt that impact will be huge. In fact, a recent McKinsey & Company report estimates that 75% of the value that generative AI can deliver falls into just four categories: customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering and R&D.

Besides analyzing vast volumes of data and providing insights, AI holds the potential for hyper personalization of the customer experience in real-time. One example is listening in on customer conversations with a customer service representative. AI will be able to provide real-time suggestions and talking points that the representative can bring up during the interaction. Another example is the use of AI to create an individual experience for someone visiting your website. Artificial Intelligence could be used to generate the website on the fly, uniquely and in real-time for each visitor.

In today’s fast-paced digital era, technological developments are extremely impressive and immersive. Even though Artificial Intelligence has been around for decades, ChatGPT created the opportunity for anyone to use it. There is no longer a need to invest huge budgets or have coding knowledge. At the moment we are witnessing the rapid democratisation and commoditisation of AI, which is incredibly exciting.

Unfortunately, that also means it can be easy to lose sight of the power that real person-to-person conversations have to create genuine connections. It is true that technology enables us to increase productivity and reach wider audiences in a more personal way and facilitate initial connections. But it is through human interaction that deep and lasting relationships are formed and sustained. That remains true for customer centricity, but it also holds true for the Public Relations profession.

At the core, PR is about relationship building, effectively communicating messages, and managing reputation. While AI certainly has its role to play in PR, the power of human connections remains unrivalled. AI lacks the empathy and emotional intelligence that humans have to build trust and cultivate relationships, understanding humor, cultural sensitivities, and specific contextual circumstances, all of which play a critical role in running impactful campaigns and engaging audiences with powerful storytelling.

As leaders in public relations, marketing, and communications we should embrace the opportunities AI has in store for our profession. But we also have a responsibility to strike the right balance between technology and human connection. Let’s focus on the value that AI brings and not just on the technology itself. The real question is how AI can empower us, while providing insights and freeing up the time to build and maintain meaningful relationships with our stakeholders. As technology evolves, the answer to that question will emerge over time. But just asking us that question, will always remain relevant.


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Posted by
Richard Verbeek 
on June 30, 2023

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