For some of us of a certain age, it’s tempting to feel that way at times in this business, what with trying to figure out the latest TikTok trend or whatnot. Recently, the thought came to mind when I read this PR Week column by Alex Warren about the inroads artificial intelligence is making in previously sacrosanct areas of content creation.
Keep in mind, as global business editor of The Associated Press, I was there at the beginning of using AI to create stories. But the idea was to let AI take over short earnings stories so reporters and editors had more time to craft longer, in-depth stories. And besides, a robot could never write better than a human, right? Well, as some research indicates, they actually can.
So, what to do? How do communications professionals add value in an AI world?
This is hardly profound but the answers rest in those skills that aren’t always emphasized in a world dominated by social media and metrics reports. As Warren makes clear, it’s incumbent on us to provide value these days. Here are a few ways to do just that – especially if you’re one of those kids on the lawn.
- Embrace your craft: My early mentors in journalism were universal in one thing – READ! Read what your competitors are doing to learn how they covered something (and build on their ideas for down the road.) Read the trades to stay current on trends. Read about the history of journalism so you know where you come from. Just read. It’s the first step to becoming the expert your clients deserve.
- Be a reporter: Sure, you did a quick dive into your client when writing that initial proposal, but can you fully explain what your client does and where it fits into its industry? Do you understand its key products, competitors and the markets it serves now? Do you grasp where it wants to be in five years? Do you know the industry leaders, the key executives and their histories? This information is vital to being a trusted advisor, and it also shows you care.
- Learn to write like a champ: Yes, the studies mentioned in this story show that AI can do wonders with creative copy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hone your writing skills every day. Read great writers. Read great books about writing. And practice, practice, practice.
- Understand the power of relationships: Treat prospective clients as sources. Get to know them – not only professionally but personally. When you understand someone, you can serve them better.
- Be proactive: When I was in-house as a CCO, few things made me crazier than agencies that didn’t come to the table with new ideas until they were asked. If you fully know the company, the industry and all of the players, you need to use that knowledge to come to the table with ideas to help your client meet its objectives – or even help it develop new objectives.
- Learn to trust your gut – and go for it!: Yes, we have more data to help make decisions than ever before, and you need to master that. On the other hand, those who are solely beholden to data sometimes miss an opportunity. If that voice is telling you to try something new, listen carefully, even if it flies in the face of convention, or dare I say it, the data.