In this guest post, Icon’s director of technology, David Radestock (lead image), argues AI is set to fundamentally change how we recruit, train and develop junior staff…
Almost everyone in PR over 30 (ish) has a story of how they started, which is unrecognisable today. For me, it is laminating coverage reports before client meetings. I hated that laminating machine. For others slightly older, the most common seems to be cutting out print coverage and faxing it to clients.
For today’s generation of juniors, those stories may include building media lists, typing out pitches and press releases, or spending hours on end pulling together research for new business pitches. All of these tasks are being disrupted by AI, and may soon be a case of a quick proof before moving on to the next thing.
The issue, of course, is that these tasks take up a lot of time for junior staff at PR agencies. They’re often billable, which helps pay an employee’s salary, and they provide a good grounding of the basics, which then inform the higher value work consultants do later in their careers.
If they’re largely automated, what replaces them for the next generation of talent? The typical answer is that AI opens up more opportunities for high-value work – undoubtedly true, but less relevant for those fresh into the industry, without the experience or knowledge to immediately do that higher-value work.
So how to ensure a strong pipeline of talent into the communications and PR industry without leaving them with little to do and even less hope of learning the skills to serve them in the coming years and decades?
The answer is a complete realignment in how we recruit, train, and develop junior staff. Simply tweaking the existing model only throws up more challenges. Reimagining it, focusing initially on three aspects, is much more likely to secure the future of the industry.