By Abdul Ozumi
Communication scholars and public relations practitioners in Nigeria have declared that Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot replace human intelligence in whatever guise. At the Annual General Meeting and Public Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Kano Chapter, the experts opined AI is designed to replace manual work effectively and quickly, and cannot override the need for human input in the workspace.
In his presentation on “Artificial Intelligence and Spin Doctoring in Public Relations Practice in Nigeria”, the guest speaker, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, questioned the hype around AI. He noted that even though the technology will aid human efforts in all endeavours, including PR practice and data collection, it is impossible for it to replace human instinct, interactivity and creativity.
The guest speaker stated that AI cannot have superiority over human abilities, since computers could have remain exactly the same way in a hundred years without human inputs. The human element, he stressed, is not easily replaceable by technology because effective PR strategies require the expertise and experience of skilled professionals.
Admitting AI has become an essential part of the business landscape as the technology presents new opportunities for growth and development, Adamu, who holds professorships in Science Education, and Media and Cultural Communication, contended: “AI is a tool, not a human, and lacks the emotions needed when it comes to certain parts of the business.”
Managing Director of Image Merchants Promotion (IMPR), Yushau Shuaib agreed that it is impossible for AI to replace human intelligence, saying the technology can only enhance the work of professionals in the areas of audience targeting, content generation, media engagement, online reputation management and crisis management.
“AI is nothing new; search engines, location search tools, spell checkers, reverse image apps, computer games, among other tools, share the same feature. We can’t deny the fact that AI saves time, increases efficiency, improves accuracy and enhances competitive advantages. It merely augments human intelligence but can never replace creativity, human interactions and natural instinct; one cannot fall in love with a robot in the real sense,” Shuaib averred.
President of NIPR, Dr. Ike Neliaku, who said humans are immensely valuable in public relations because the need for creativity in interactions cannot be replaced by AI, commended the NIPR Chapter in Kano and a Governing Council member Dr. Sule Yau Sule for facilitating the lecture on contemporary issues.
In his remarks, Kano Commissioner of information, Alhaji Baba Dantiye advised practitioners to be up to date with modern tools for communication. The senior government official called on NIPR to organise more capacity building programmes on artificial intelligence for spokespersons and PR experts.
After inaugurating the newly elected leadership of NIPR in Kano, Dr. Neliaku embarked on a facility tour of IMPR’s PRNigeria Centre which owns PRNigeria, Economic Confidential, Spokespersons’ Digest and other titles. The delegation inspected the Digital Communication Room, Conference Office, Research and Fact-Checking desks.
Mr. Shuaib said most of the staff are certified public relations practitioners with diverse skills in journalism, social media, strategic communication and fact-checking using artificial intelligence. IMPR provides mentorship programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate students through internship placements in its Abuja and Kano offices.
The publisher said having realised the importance of AI in PR, the firm deployed the technology for audience targeting, content generation, media engagement, perception index, online reputation management and sentiment analysis in crisis communication. Some of the tech tools are deployed for predictive analytics, media monitoring, budgeting, social media management, video production and speech-to-text contents.
Dr. Neliaku offered to partner with IMPR, recalling he was recently briefed by NIPR Vice President, Professor Emma Dandaura on the areas of collaboration. He said: “As we are planning the hosting of the national spokespersons’ workshop, we have assigned Dr. Sule Yau Sule, a veteran spokesperson to governors, ministers and senators, to chair the Planning Committee.
“On the request of IMPR for partnership on its annual Spokespersons’ Communication Awards, we hope the forthcoming National Spokespersons Summit that has been approved by the Minister of Information and National Orientation will also be a better platform to showcase and celebrate outstanding public relations campaigns by organisations and individuals.
“With what I have seen at the NIPR Conference in Kano, our proposed workshop will also focused on various ways in which artificial intelligence can be used in PR practice, the technological tools, the potential risks and benefits, the ethical considerations and likely case studies so that participants can stay up to date with the latest development.
“Let me congratulate Mallam Shuaib, a multi-talented PR practitioner whom I have known for more than two decades, for mentoring young journalists and communicators. The IMPR has been one of our ambassadors, using its centres in Abuja and Kano to teach young communicators on stakeholder engagement, entrepreneurship and digital economy. When I came into office, I insisted we must relate well with our chapters and ensure that PR practitioners succeed.”
The highlight of the events were the awards of honour by NIPR in Kano to Prof. Adamu and Mr. Shuaib, as well as the presentation of books published by PRNigeria staff to Dr. Neliaku, his immediate predecessor Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, and a member of the institute’s Governing Council, Mr. Bashir Adamu Chedi.
_Abdul Ozumi, a PR enthusiast and communicator, writes from Kano_