While much of the PR industry is still trying to figure out what to do with AI, Aaron Kwittken is all in. The founder and chairman of KWT Global, Kwittken has stepped away from day-to-day agency life to grow his latest venture, PRophet, billed as “the first-ever generative and predictive AI SaaS platform designed by and for the PR community.” Kwittken also is CEO of the comms tech business unit for the Stagwell Marketing Cloud. Kwittken spoke with PRovoke about why he is such a big proponent of the PR industry embracing AI, and the far-reaching impacts the technology could have on the industry.

Where do clients stand on some of these potential changes in the industry precipitated by AI, in areas like business models? There may be advantages for agencies but will the people paying them get on board? 

Brands and clients may in fact be moving faster than the agencies in this instance, driving them to experiment and adopt tools that enable them to work faster and smarter. The big question remains around fees. Will agencies be able to charge more, the same or less using technology? I think a new model will erupt driven by comms tech where agencies will migrate to value-based billing, not time and materials. For this to happen it will need to be driven by procurement.

In terms of generative AI, there is still a lot of skepticism.  I have heard that astute reporters can spot a press release written with AI and will dismiss it. Thoughts?

A shitty pitch is a shitty pitch regardless of if it was written by a human or by a machine plus a human. Reporters don’t care how a pitch was written or who wrote it. They just want a relevant and compelling story idea and don’t want to be spammed with generic pitches that have no news value.

Is the industry moving too fast with adopting AI? Too slow? If it’s the latter, what’s holding it back? If it is the former, is there a risk of the industry going in without all the information or infrastructure needed to get it right?

We need to move faster and pivot away from just talking about AI and understand that AI is just one component of a larger, more transformative movement towards comms tech and the era of the communications engineer — where PR pros use data to backstop gut instinct and become performance marketers who use tech to be more predictive and productive.  Also, if we don’t move faster, ad agencies and consultancies will use this as means to take our budget and further commoditize our skills and value.

Is there a risk of AI going the way of the metaverse – big hype and not much to show for it?

Nope. This is consequential. The metaverse has and will always be bullshit and a fad unless you are a gamer, maybe.

You are a big proponent of AI, so much so that you’re selling it. What do you see as the downside if there is one?

The downside is cultural not functional. The industry needs to be less precious about how we work and not mistake workflow tools for performance tools. Workflow tools may speed up what we do but at the expense of quality. I don’t believe in automation tools. I believe in tools that help us perform better, and then faster. Most comms tech tools focus on removing friction which in turn has led to professional complacency and therefore less trust in tech.