WARSAW — The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) has ratified its principles for the ethical use of AI in public relations during the 2023 ICCO Global Summit.

Christina Forsgaard, founder of Netprofile Finland and ICCO’s ethics chair, spearheaded the authoring of the principles, launched at the two-day event in Warsaw last week, with the theme ‘Identity, Influence and Innovation – Reimagining PR in the age of AI and geopolitical shifts’.

Forsgaard said: “As we delve deeper into the age of AI, the urgency to uphold trust in our profession intensifies, particularly considering deep fakes, conspiracy theories and hybrid threats against democracies. Our unwavering commitment to the ethical foundation of public relations is paramount.

“The Warsaw Principles are more than just guidelines; they serve as a beacon for communications professionals everywhere. Equipped with AI, we have the responsibility to prioritize science-based facts in our communications, ensuring that every message is transparent and trustworthy.”

ICCO president Grzegorz Szczepanski – who hosted the summit in his home country with speakers from organisations and brands including NATO, the UN and Mastercard, and from agencies and networks including Omnicom, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Lynn, Piabo, The Skills Group, WE Communications, McCann Poland and Milk & Honey PR – added: “The rapid advancements of AI in public relations present both challenges and opportunities.

“With the Warsaw Principles, ICCO is taking a proactive stance, ensuring our industry remains at the forefront, recognising the profound impact of AI while safeguarding the ethical foundations upon which our profession stands.”

The ratified principles underscore the importance of:

  • Transparency, disclosure and authenticity: mandating clear disclosure when generative AI is employed, especially when crafting reality-like content.
  • Accuracy, fact-checking and combatting disinformation: highlighting the need for rigorous fact-checking, given AI’s potential for disseminating misinformation and producing disinformation.
  • Privacy, data protection and responsible sharing: prioritizing data protection, compliance, and responsible content dissemination.
  • Bias detection, mitigation and inclusivity: advocating for the detection and correction of biases in AI-driven content and the promotion of inclusivity.
  • Intellectual property, copyright compliance and media literacy: stressing the respect for intellectual property and copyright laws.
  • Human oversight, intervention and collaboration: eeinforcing the necessity of human oversight in AI-powered processes.
  • Contextual understanding, adaptation and personalisation: Encouraging tailored content approaches for different audiences and channels.
  • Responsible automation and efficiency: championing AI for efficiency without compromising on ethical standards.
  • Continuous monitoring, evaluation and eeedback: advancing continuous assessment and stakeholder engagement for optimal AI use.
  • Ethical professional development, education and AI Advocacy: promoting continuous learning, ethical AI advocacy, and best practice sharing.

The declaration concludes: “AI should complement, not replace, the invaluable expertise, judgment and creativity that PR professionals bring. AI's implications will keep evolving; thus, adaptability and vigilance are paramount.”

The principles can be downloaded here.