Technology and Tools

  • The Rise of AI  by Todd Van Hoosear 

    I prompted Google Bard to “write an introductory paragraph to a story about how public relations professionals should prepare for the rise of artificial intelligence, and specifically, generative AI.”

    This is what it gave me (you will note that it was more than a paragraph):

    The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is having a profound impact on many industries, including public relations. Generative AI, in particular, is being used to automate tasks such as writing press releases, creating social media content, and managing media relations.

    While AI can be a valuable tool for PR professionals, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. For example, AI-generated content may not be as accurate or creative as human-generated content. Additionally, AI-powered tools can be used to create fake news and propaganda.

    As a result, PR professionals need to be prepared for the rise of AI. They need to understand the potential benefits and risks of AI, and they need to develop strategies for using AI effectively.

    Here are some tips for PR professionals on how to prepare for the rise of AI:

    • Stay up-to-date on the latest AI trends. This will help you understand the potential impact of AI on your work and make informed decisions about how to use it.
    • Develop skills in data analysis and storytelling. These skills will be essential for working with AI-generated content.
    • Build relationships with AI experts. These experts can help you understand the capabilities of AI and develop strategies for using it effectively.
    • Be prepared to adapt your work practices. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it is likely to automate more tasks. PR professionals need to be prepared to adapt their work practices to accommodate these changes.

    By following these tips, PR professionals can prepare for the rise of AI and continue to play an important role in the communication industry.

    I was tempted to rest on my laurels and call it a day; despite not giving me exactly what I was looking for, it got pretty close. And that’s about the best summary of the capabilities of AI I could possibly give: “it gets pretty close.” And it’s only going to get better — and more dangerous, but not perhaps in the ways some of us fear.

    Should we fear AI?
    And that fear is one consistent theme you’ll find in conversations about AI — fear of the spread of misinformation, of its potential uses in creating compelling propaganda, the loss of jobs, or even the existential fear of the loss of life. Even today, with millions of dollars being allocated toward its study and its growing use in the field, the term evokes thoughts ranging from the deadly “Skynet” to the possibly harmless — if easily misled — chat bot.

    The case for AI
    According to research firm AIContentGen, AI can play a huge role in producing effective marketing content. The firm, led by John Cass and Scott Sweeney, analyzes generative AI tools and produced a report in 2021 (well before the buzz around GPT-4 began) that identified and reviewed 20 different AI tools marketers are using to step up their content production. In today’s world, Google is your home page, most transactions are electronic, and landing page conversions can make or break a new product. To quote the title of Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s book, “Content Rules,” and AI is a critical tool for creating and refining that content.

    The more data you have to work with, the better your AI-generated content will be. With hundreds of thousands of press releases to source from, AI tools can spit out a perfectly usable one in seconds.

    Today, generative AI has advanced well beyond mere copywriting, thanks in part to the new capabilities introduced with GPT-4. I have been able to use ChatGPT to write very compelling situation analyses (it only got a few details wrong), Bard to research reporters for a pitch (it needed a little prodding to differentiate media outlets from actual reporters, but the final list was spot on), Midjourney to create compelling visual images for a design project, and Lensa to create photo-realistic headshot alternatives and some fantastically creative social media avatars.

    Christopher Penn shared his own insights into AI trends at the 2022 Annual Meeting of PRSA Boston, highlighting what PR professionals need to know about the emerging space. He echoed many of the themes Bard identified in its introductory “paragraph.” And he pointed out that the skills needed to successfully interact with AI could lead to the creation of an entirely new profession: the AI “prompt engineer” capable of crafting effective queries that get the most out of AI’s capabilities.

    The case against AI
    Bard itself was seemingly aware of its own risks as it was assessing its impact on PR. Its ability to synthesize and analyze is directly tied to the amount and quality of data it has to work with. Like any computer algorithm, it is subject to the basic GIGO rule: “garbage in, garbage out.” Weak AIs won’t deliberately lie, but they can hallucinate — their reality is shaped directly by the data we feed them, and if that data is limited or skewed, they may fill in the blanks in surprising and even disturbing ways.

    This can make them dangerous effective tools in propaganda wars and disinformation campaigns. I asked Bard what the biggest dangers were from generative AI, and it gave me the following:

    Generative AI is a powerful tool that can be used for good or for bad. Here are some of the biggest dangers that generative AI poses:

    • Misinformation and disinformation: Generative AI can be used to create fake news and propaganda. This can be used to manipulate public opinion and sow discord.
    • Deepfakes: Generative AI can be used to create deepfakes, which are videos or audio recordings that have been manipulated to make it look or sound like someone is saying or doing something they never actually said or did. Deepfakes can be used to damage someone’s reputation or to spread misinformation.
    • Job displacement: Generative AI can be used to automate tasks that are currently done by humans. This could lead to widespread job displacement, as machines become capable of doing more and more of the work that humans currently do.
    • Loss of control: Generative AI is a complex technology that is not fully understood. This means that there is a risk that we could lose control of it. For example, generative AI could be used to create weapons that are more powerful and destructive than anything we have today.

    These are just a few examples of jobs that may be lost because of AI. As AI continues to develop, it is likely that even more jobs will be automated. However, it is important to note that AI is also creating new jobs. For example, AI engineers and data scientists are in high demand. As AI continues to develop, it is likely that new jobs will be created in areas such as AI research, development, and deployment.

    So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Do you have concerns specific to your role? Are you worried that AI might impact your day-to-day work, or ultimately cost you your job? Log on to ChatGPT or Bard and ask them your questions. For the moment, at least, they are giving pretty honest answers.

    Todd is a senior lecturer in public relations at Boston University’s College of Communication. Disclosure notice: Todd served as a reviewer for AIContentGen’s 2021 AI Content Generation Scorecard & Analysis report, providing feedback and a marketing “blurb” for the report, but did not receive financial compensation for the review or endorsement.

  • Doug Haslam Stone Temple Consulting

    FAST 5: Q&A with Doug Haslam, Senior Consultant, Stone Temple Consulting

    Public relations teams often are in the best position to help an organization with its digital media and content strategies. Many times, however, they are not as integrated with other parts of the company to help move these strategies forward.

    Doug Haslam aims to help companies overcome these obstacles. Doug (@DougH) is a senior consultant at Stone Temple Consulting, where he advises clients on content and social media strategy. He is a veteran communicator with decades of experience in journalism, PR, social media and content marketing, and previously managed social media for PRSA Boston.

    On April 28, Doug will join a group of experts for PRSA Boston’s Digital Marketing Tips for PR Professionals panel session. The panelists will host 20-minute roundtable discussions – speed dating style – that will allow attendees to choose which areas they would like to learn more about. Topics will include what is new in search engine optimization (SEO), current trends in social media, how to integrate inbound marketing into a communications program, and digital marketing.

    We caught up with Doug for a FAST 5 to ask him to reflect on what drew him to digital marketing, the value PR can bring to digital marketing and social media, and how the industry may evolve in the next few years.

    #1 – What led you to you focus on digital marketing and social media?

    I lived through the digital transformation of audio, and then made a career change to PR right as the Internet was catching on. Digital was never far from my mind, even in the ‘90s. When blogs, and then social media platforms, began to appear, I gravitated naturally to media that would allow me to help clients (and me) create content. With the means of production more easily accessible, it was easy to make that transition, where standing out meant not just access, but being able to tell a story well.

    #2 – What role should PR play in an organization’s digital marketing and social media strategies? Why?

    PR, if strictly meant to create awareness in the outside media, is more digital than anything else. PR is also, usually, in the best position to craft messaging and tell stories, which makes most PR departments and agencies a natural fit for social media in particular.

    Another thing PR needs to do better is to gain more knowledge about how what they do affects business and marketing goals, and what they can do to ensure that happens. That could include making sure they are acquiring links with articles for better SEO, or gaining access to and understanding of websites and other metrics to assess the effect their efforts have on the business.

    #3 – What aspects of digital marketing, social media and SEO do you typically see companies struggle with?

    The biggest struggle is not a new one: making sure all the parts operate toward a greater whole. Does PR talk to marketing? Do they talk to the web team? The sales team? How is progress linked to overall goals and reported to the executive suite?

    #4 – How do you see digital marketing and social media evolving in the next two to five years?

    I would like to see more cooperation among departments. We used to talk of convergence, and then of specialization, but I don’t think we need more of either. We just need to see the parts add up to something greater than their sum.

    #5 – Who are three people you follow daily on Twitter, both professionally and personally?


    @marktraphagen (colleague)

    @shellykramer (friend and mentor)

    @rhappe (Community Roundtable)


    @vanhoosear (former colleague)


    @cthilk (another former colleague I love to troll)

    About Doug Haslam

    Doug (@DougH) has more than 20 years of experience in communications, beginning with radio (NPR, Christian Science Monitor), and then moving into the public relations and social media marketing worlds. Doug was among the earliest PR agency professionals to integrate social media into PR and marketing programs and was involved with associated organizations from the start, including PodCamp and Social Media Club. Among dozens of clients over the past two decades, Doug has served companies in industries including technology, employment and recruiting, and publishing and design. Doug is active in the Boston marketing, PR and social media scenes, having served as a board member of the Social Media Club, a Fellow for the Society for New Communications Research, and as a Board Member and Vice President of Social Media for PRSA Boston. When Doug is not helping Stone Temple Consulting clients, he is honing his wit on social networks and hitting the roads on his bicycle and training for the annual cancer charity ride, the Pan-Mass Challenge.

    Register for PRSA Boston’s Digital Marketing Tips for PR Professionals panel session and meet Doug when he joins a group of experts to host 20-minute roundtable discussions – speed dating style – on what is new in search engine optimization (SEO), current trends in social media, how to integrate inbound marketing into a communications program and digital marketing.

    About FAST 5

    This is an interview feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Nathaniel Eberle Hubspot

    Corporate Sponsorship Best Practices with Nathaniel Eberle, Director, PR & Brand at HubSpot

    This month, PRSA Boston’s theme has been cause and marketing partnerships, and if anyone knows about the B2B sponsorship game in Boston it’s HubSpot. The company’s annual event, “INBOUND,” is one of the most anticipated motivational and educational experiences in the city, drawing over 14,000 attendees in 2015.

    We interviewed Nathaniel Eberle, (@ThanEberle) director of PR and brand at HubSpot, who for over his 18 year career, has built and executed publicity and digital media programs for emerging technology companies and global brands. Before arriving at his current position at HubSpot in early 2015, he worked for Weber Shandwick, Tufts University and Racepoint Group.

    1. How do you keep up-to-date with what’s new in the sponsorship industry?

    When we look at what’s going on in the industry, we pay close attention to the biggest events, and specifically how companies use those opportunities to really break the mold and provide a top-notch, memorable attendee experience. We love seeing brands that take chances with their sponsorships, because it provides great inspiration to us when we go to tailor experiences of our own, whether through sponsorships or through our own hosted events.

    2. Tell us about an important trend you think will impact the corporate sponsorship market this year.

    I think we will continue to see the rise of creativity. While opportunities like branded wifi, goodie bags, and logo’d banners will never disappear, attendees don’t really derive much value from these in relation to the sponsoring company. They’ve become ubiquitous among a sea of sponsors. Brands will start to see some real return on their dollars when they aim to “wow” attendees with unique experiences that add serious value to the event and add surround-sound experiences through social media. Even though it takes some extra brainpower (and maybe a little extra dough) to create a tailored sponsorship, the return will be much higher for meaningful and memorable experiences than for an otherwise standard sponsorship.

    3. What factors are most important to you when weighing decisions about who to sponsor?

    When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office). For example, we recently sponsored a Startup Pitch-off event by TechCrunch here in Boston, featuring the launch for our new program, HubSpot for Startups. Because many attendees were from startups themselves, they were able to get a ton of value from our presence, and on the flip side, HubSpot’s new program got some valuable face time in front of its target demographic.

    One exception to the above is in regions where trade shows are THE place to convene and do business. A great example is the upcoming DMEXCO event in Germany — while we tend not to invest in trade shows, for our industry, this particular event is the must-attend (and expected) event in Germany. When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office).

    4. How do you know when a sponsorship has been successful (or not) and has been worth the investment? Are there certain metrics you prefer to track?

    As we all know, sponsorships can be hard to track because it’s not always about lead generation (which would be easy to measure). Instead, it’s often about building brand awareness or supporting a cause. While we have tools to measure brand awareness overall, drilling down to the marginal return for a specific sponsorship can be difficult or impossible. That’s why we usually look for sponsorship opportunities that are tied to thought leadership (speaking), as it ensures we can get up on the stage, where the impact is one-to-many and much greater than from a booth or table (which is very much one-to-one). It’s much the same when we’re sponsoring an event that supports a cause — we always try to get up onstage and talk about why that cause is important to HubSpot, and really get that messaging across in a meaningful, one-to-many way.

    5. What is your “must-attend” conference, trade show, expo, event or meeting of the year?

    Naturally, our “must-attend” event is INBOUND, HubSpot’s annual event here in Boston where the inbound movement meets up to learn and grow every year. In 2015, we saw over 14,000 registered attendees, and hosted content ranging from heartfelt with The Malala Fund to hilarious with Amy Schumer. With over 250 sessions and hundreds of hours of content for attendees, it’s our chance to provide a really great opportunity for like-minded brands to showcase their messages – in innovative ways – as sponsors of the event.

    Join us on Tuesday, March 15th, as PRSA Boston hosts a webinar training session for corporate brand, marketing and PR managers on how to negotiate and design a corporate sponsorship. It’s free, so register today!

    About FAST 5

    This is a new feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

  • Measuring Offline World for Marketing

    “Devices turn the offline world into the online world.”

    Chris Penn said that at a recent PRSA Boston event I attended and it stuck with me. It happened after a conversation around measurement and website analytics, and how that may translate to foot traffic for brick and mortar stores.

    Is that measurable, too?

    Yes. Because our smartphones, tablets and other devices make it so. With GPS tracking and location-based services, our devices can be a stalker’s… err, I mean, marketer’s dream!

    Chris gave a good example to illustrate this:

    Let’s say you’re walking around the mall. Your phone would be constantly trying to find a WiFi signal to connect to. Even if it doesn’t connect, each time it pings out a WiFi request, it’s revealing your location. And, by tracking that, it’s possible to monitor your movements as you walk around the first floor of the mall, and then the second floor, and then past the food court, and then into an athletic goods store, and so on and so forth.

    For better results, marketers use branded promotional products that the recipients can use for many months like business logo umbrellas. Such quality products help keep consumers engaged with a brand.

    This is what marketers can use to trigger specific ads – for that delicious food-court pizza perhaps, or what could be your next great pair of running shoes. And, with all that trackable data (generated by the WiFi ping attempts), the offline world can be measured just like the online world. Now, foot traffic to physical stores can finally be measurable in much the same way as website visits – and, more importantly, as they relate to marketing ads triggered by such geolocation data and seo services with to promote the product or brand.

    This can help marketers demonstrate ROI or find ways to adjust campaigns to make them more effective. Marketers can consider using this adwords marketing in Thailand to guarantee the success of their google advertising campaigns. There are several Web20Ranker reviews about good marketing strategies that help their search engine.

    Of course, there are other forms of traffic counters in physical stores, but this example really highlighted the ability to merge the offline world with the online world with usable, measurable data for effective marketing measurement.

    Meredith Keaton

    Meredith L. Eaton is an Account Director at March Communications where she specializes in campaign strategy, execution and measurement for clients in a variety of technology industries, including enterprise software, cloud computing with grep command supports, security, mobile and data center services. In addition to a strong focus on new business initiatives, Meredith works to drive corporate strategy, thought leadership, content development, influencer relations, social and digital media and customer reference programs – both for large, public companies and innovative startups. Meredith holds a Bachelor’s degree in both communications and political science from Boston College.

    This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, M+PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here: