#PRStudChat Artificial Intelligence and digital mediaLast week, we welcomed Martin Waxman to the #PRStudChat hot seat to discuss #allthethings having to do with artificial intelligence and its relationship to digital media.

Unsurprisingly, our one-hour allotment was barely enough to scratch the surface.

But before we get into that, let’s provide some context…

#PRStudChat: Martin Waxman

First, a little about Martin Waxman.

In his words, he is “a digital/social media/communications guy with roots in PR and the creative arts.”

He is also a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com author, co-host of the Inside PR podcast (with our very own Gini Dietrich), and a former PR columnist for Marketing Magazine.

Plus, he developed a Digital Strategy and Communications Management Certificate at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and he teaches social media and PR at Seneca College.

In September this year, he presented a TEDx Talk entitled A My Big Jump into Understanding AI.

In it, he shares his journey into discovering what AI is and does and offers examples that not only help simplify AI but also shed some light on what some of the benefits and issues might be.

That discussion, his teaching experience, and his 25+ years in our industry made him an ideal PR Student Chat host (in case you were wondering).

#PRStudChat: Why Are We Talking About AI?

It’s not surprising that people have a lot of questions about AI in general.

But it’s becoming increasingly important to be asking (and answering) questions about how AI is affecting the communications industry.

What do advances in these areas mean for us as practitioners?

Out of the gate, we asked: “What do communicators need to know about AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning?”

The initial response was amazing. The #PRStudChat audience that week wasn’t just about asking questions, they had thoughts of their own.

#PRStudChat: Different Types of Artificial Intelligence?

Martin made a great point about differentiating and understanding the difference between the different types of AI:

#PRStudChat: AI is Taking Over!

There are long-running jokes about AI overlords and how they’ll take over the world and, perhaps more concerning, our jobs. It’s supposed to be funny, but like many jokes, there are slivers of truth embedded therein.

The reality? AI is designed to complement, not replace.

In the words of Chris Penn, our AI goals should focus on the three As:

  1. Acceleration (faster results)
  2. Accuracy (better results)
  3. Automation (or alleviation: Things we don’t have to do anymore because the machines can do them)

#PRStudChat co-founder, Deirdre Breakenridge, followed up with a great study focusing on AI and how people feel about it.

#PRStudChat: Artificial Intelligence and Areas We Can Focus On

One of the most interesting aspects of this conversation was something I’ve rarely seen come up when we have discussed AI and its implications.

Most conversations focus on data mining and interpretation. Followed closely by how we can use AI to automate and add value to our process.

But there’s typically very little discussion around what we, as communicators, can actually focus on to become better-equipped to understand and implement more AI into our strategies and tactics.

Learning to code, for instance. We often joke that a prevailing fear of math is what pushed many of us into the communications profession, but it’s a huge part of what do, so the more you know, the better, right?

The same thing applies to AI. It’s easy to sit back and say, “wow, AI is pretty incredible. Think of what we’ll be able to do with it!”

But if we don’t actually bolster our skills and understanding around AI and what it implies for our industry, it won’t be hard to fall behind.


#PRStudChat: A Summary

Overall, there were a number of AI-related resources shared during the chat to help us keep up to speed on what’s happening in the field. That, along with things we should watch out for.

Ultimately, like any technology and/or media, there are inherent dangers and risks. Which is why conversations like this are so important.

There were some AI case studies shared and discussed. Along with how the technology has directly affected Martin (and others in the chat). That said, as ever, we don’t want to give it all away!

If you didn’t have a chance to join the chat last week, you can follow along with the summary below, or check out the PRStudChat hashtag on Twitter.

Remember, if you ever have questions before or during the chat, please tweet @PRStudChat@SpinSucks@LKPetrolino@ValerieSimon, or @DBreakenridge.

Otherwise, please join us in the free Spin Sucks Community where we discuss #PRStudChat themes at length, along with many other like-minded issues (we may get off track now and then, but that’s part of the fun).

About #PRStudChat

As always, PR Student Chat—co-founded by Deirdre Breakenridge and Valerie Simon—partners with trusted industry leaders to help shed light on the ever-changing issues that affect our role as professionals.

It helps students, and practitioners alike, learn from the experience and perspective of other industry professionals.

In addition, it’s a community where everyone can learn and grow together.

Please stay tuned for our next session, topic, and guest host.

Mike Connell

Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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