All of us are challenged in some way by world events, rampant misinformation and how to work with AI; and, for communicators, that means focusing internally and externally with intention and integrity. With wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, and conflicts here at home, “It’s important to name it, to say things are not ok, and to communicate with our team early and clearly,” said Maura Corbett, right in photo, CEO and founder of the Glen Echo Group, speaking to Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Executive Level leaders on October 18. She and Maria Rodriguez, President and CEO of Vanguard Communications, left in photo, agreed that it is critical to be consistent with your core values when it comes to your team and your clients.
The tragedies are compounded by misinformation and disinformation, which is relentless and now accelerated by AI. “The 2016 election was a social media election,” Corbett said, “I fear 2024 is going to be the AI election.”
She noted the “Sisyphean” challenge of disinformation. On just one platform, YouTube, hundreds of videos are uploaded every minute of the day, so “you cannot catch it all.” Combatting disinformation is complex, with legal and ethical challenges. She urged everyone to familiarize themselves with how to combat it. She recommended an online resource for those who are not “tech nerds” to learn more by playing a game: https://trustandsafety.fun
“We can’t solve it alone, so we have to be sure we are not contributing to it,” said Rodriguez. “And we cannot wait for misinformation to affect us. We have to build up credibility in advance of any attacks, and have partnerships, third-party endorsers, and ambassadors in place who can help you put out the truth.”
Still, AI is an integral part of communications and valuable when used intentionally and carefully. Rodriguez said she is using it as a brainstorming and research tool but cautioned it can be fraught with errors so human review is necessary. Corbett created an internal task force at her firm to help practitioners learn how to use AI appropriately, be consistent with the firm’s privacy policies, and develop rules for disclosures to clients.
Corbett, WWPR’s 2019 Woman of the Year, said her mother’s integrity and hard work inspired her to set out on her own, so having the recognition of other women was profound. Rodriguez, a WWPR Women of the Year finalist and member of the PRSA-NCC Hall of Fame, said she doesn’t enjoy the spotlight, but it is valuable because it provides role models for younger women and girls. WWPR’s honorees are recognized for their professional accomplishments and their contributions to the community.