We chatted with Dr. Ana Adi (@ana_adi) about future-proofing public relations, AI, and trends in PR. Dr. Adi is a PR and corporate communications professor at Quadriga Berlin and is a researcher, consultant, Chairwoman of Digital Communication Awards, and host of the Women in PR Podcast. Ana joined us to talk about future-proofing PR and bridging the gap between the future generations of practitioners (and those already in the profession and certainly not planning to retire soon.) She recently spoke about corporate communications and AI and contributed to AMEC’s Measurement Month on measuring VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) for PR.

 

Dr. Adi wrote about the measurement and evaluation of virtual reality and augmented reality applications for communications and how is this changing (or not changing) for the PR practitioner.

Regarding the future of PR, while I value the work of Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (the framework and the capabilities) and that of #AIinPR I think they are for now or very far away. With #PR2025, I also focused on the needs practitioners point out. Research indicated that PR practitioners feel that tech and business skills is what they’d need sharpening yet training offered, if at all, was in communications. So #PR2025 asked the questions focusing on those areas of development in particular. Our main findings were that a focus on digital literacy and ethics as central to tech and mastering of strategy for business (not only communications). But there is more. Speaking of measurement the insight from #PR2025 (which is in line with many other pieces of research) is that measurement and evaluation are still not the norms. To change that one needs to think more in terms of research and research methods. It feels to me that PR (practitioners, departments, agencies) speak(s) more often about others rather than about how they use PR for work. PR does PR for AI but seems to fear AI for its own work. In my view, if we focus (as practitioners) on the effects of tech (that includes AI) and thus ask the hard questions, we’ll be in a good place.

Digital stories of corporate activism (the trend and its implications), corporate volunteering and their role for internal communication and employer branding are on trend right now and Dr. Adi shared her thoughts on what PR professionals need to know about these trends and how they will impact their organizations and their stakeholders/customers/constituents.

A successful (desirable) employer brand appeals and reflects employees’ values and those values are best seen in stories of real people and real issues. But choosing the values path (also strongly related to purpose) has its risks – can be cultural, political or economic. Choosing values also means risk and loosing friends, supporters or customers. The question for PR remains (when it comes to activism and corporate activism) is in striving for balance in a world where everyone chooses values (this can also divide society and/or sow division). To add to your reading list, I also edited a reader on corporate activism this year. There are some awesome contributions there from case studies too: https://www.quadriga-university.com/sites/default/files/document/2019-09/Quadriga-Reader_Corporate%20Activism_Ana%20Adi.pdf

Can you give us a quick, high-level overview of the #PR2025 Trends report and the results of a Delphi method study?

The main findings are that a focus on digital literacy and ethics is central to tech and mastering strategy for business (not only communications).