Call me late to the party, but I just discovered Zoom’s ability to neatly organize the contents of a call into “smart chapters” with tidy subheads and summaries of what was discussed. This is AI at work, right?

O’Dwyer’s / Researchscape Dec. 5 webinar on AI’s Place in PR lasted for about an hour and Zoom’s AI features were a great help in prepping this write-up. For example, a complete transcript was spit out and accurately segmented everything said by moderator Tony Cheevers from Researchscape and panelists Aaron Blank, CEO and President at Fearey, and Ray Rasmussen, Founder and Managing Principal at rGen Consulting.

The smart chapters are not worthy of direct import, but definitely a nice way to jog my memory of the discussion last week. And while I was actively taking notes, the official transcript created is perfect for getting quotes right.

My experience with this basic assistance is just the tip of the iceberg of how AI should be leveraged, according to Blank. He recently began working with Rasmussen and rGen Consulting to harness the power of AI to run his agency better.

Blank’s directive is to make available to everyone in his agency the experience and knowledge he has gained over 40 years in the business.

While generative AI programs such as ChatGPT go out to the Internet to put together content for a user, Blank and Rasmussen are employing Microsoft Copilot Studio, only released a few weeks ago, to create a form of internal ChatGPT that is directed toward accessing Fearey’s documents, past releases, white papers, etc.

The goal is to use your own intellectual property in an AI environment, Rasmussen explained.

Like the assistance Zoom’s AI provided me for this article, Copilot can be programmed to do the same for Fearey staffers writing a press release, offering them easy access to past material from which to draw ideas and direction.

“AI is changing every day, you have to stay on the front lines of it,” Blank stressed. “I just want to know how my PR firm can manage the nuances of it.”

Another practical application mentioned by both Blank and Rasmussen is putting an employee handbook into Copilot to help with something as basic as the procedure for requesting time off.

A webinar attendee asked if the efficiencies gained through the use of AI would make it necessary to adjust the hourly billing model. Rasmussen’s response was to encourage agency heads to look for opportunities to move toward more of a subscription or fixed price arrangement.

While it seems as though there’s a never-ending list of companies trumping their new AI offerings, Rasmussen is wary of relying on anyone other than big tech firms like Google, Meta and IBM who are making significant investments.

Blank likens the current boom in generative AI to what it felt like when Google’s search engine first came to market. “PR pros feared for their lives,” Blank said. But, as Blank explained, "We’re all still here 20 years later."

“AI is good at looking at existing materials, but if you ask it to do breakthrough work and that kind of thinking, it can’t do it,” Rasmussen said. “That’s where humans come in.”

View this full discussion and other webinars moderated by Researchscape’s Tony Cheevers on O’Dwyer’s YouTube page.

Next up on Dec. 12 at 2:00 p.m. EST is “Content Planning for 2024” with WriterGirl Marketing Director Heather Stanley and Client Partnership Coordinator Lauran McHaffie where we’ll review the results of a content planning survey.

Contact John O'Dwyer at [email protected] if you'd like to suggest a topic, be a panelist or are interested in sponsoring a webinar.

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