Notes from the near future of PR work
It’s Friday 8:45 am. A WFH day in the near future
Sally grabs her tea, goes to her desk and makes herself comfortable. Your laptop will light up. “Hello Sally. To sleep well? I have your morning briefing ready.”
Sally’s digital work double (an AI virtual assistant nicknamed “DeeDee”) has been busy while she sleeps – accepting messages from multiple work and personal channels and auto-replies where possible. On the left side of her screen is a brief synopsis of what DeeDee did overnight and what needs help interpreting.
A media scanner caught six new customer mentions. Five positive and one negative. DeeDee has already prepared a summary, including sentiment and risk analysis, and added it to Sally’s weekly report, which is due this afternoon.
DeeDee has also prepared a list of potential News Jack stories based on trending news analysis and prepared initial media briefings for Sally to review. She scans, rejects the ones she knows the client isn’t looking for, and approves the more engaging stories — tweaking some of the text to make it a little more personal.
“Okay, these pitches are ready to go,” says Sally. DeeDee sends the journalists’ virtual assistants a message, asking if there’s a way for her humans to make a quick phone call. accept two. Their assistants set up holo calls for later in the morning and populate their calendars with details.
Holographic calls, or “holos,” have killed Zoom and Team meetings, shifting instead to holographic faces stacked neatly over work monitors. They float in the air in translucent 3D, with a person’s virtual assistant sitting on the far left. Assistants take meeting notes, transcribe text, and assemble to complete items raised in the meeting. Once trained, they are also capable of assigning tasks to their humans and, in some cases, completing them entirely.
Timesheets, WIPs, basic media releases and reporting are now largely handled by an AI – giving Sally more headroom to work on strategy and creative problem-solving on nuanced projects.
One of Holo’s killer features is “Direct Gaze,” a toggle that automatically corrects a caller’s eyes to look directly at the camera through real-time manipulation of eye position. While it may sound insignificant, it has actually helped address some of the fatigue issues unleashed during the recent pandemic and the general weirdness that has come with talking to people who never look you in the eye. 3D holograms also feel more present and relatable than a grid of 2D faces.
Sally glances at DeeDee, who raises her eyebrows and cocks her head slightly with a questioning look. “Need something?” it asks.
Sally’s assistant looks like the antagonist from the latest South Korean cult film. The young actor has made more from selling his face rights than the film deal paid for – with thousands of assistants using their lookalike.
“I would like to create a 60-second video post for publication on the company’s TikTok account, please,” Sally asks.
A text entry interface appears on her laptop with fields for title, text and style. Sally begins writing a brief for the videos. It describes two front-facing actors seated on a couch in a modern office setting. Natural lighting. A glass table with coffee and two work pads. And an orange office cat sitting next to some green office plants.
Sally types the conversation narration and selects the voice tone via the preferences. She ticks “casual,” “light upbeat,” plus “persuade.” The tool presents word and grammar suggestions to meet Sally’s sound requests, which she accepts.
She clicks Produce. 30 seconds later, a preview of their directorial clip appears. Everything rendered in the scene, including lifelike animated characters and their voices (called “synthesizers”), was generated by the AI. Sally uses the edit function to make subtle changes to the speaking rate and the pause time between lines. It feels more natural on the second take, which she approves for export and release by DeeDee.
With a three-week vacation starting Monday, Sally takes over briefing DeeDee with her project status reports and handover notes. It will take most of the day as she is guided through a series of prompts, branched answers and suggestions. When Sally is on leave of absence, DeeDee will be ready to answer questions from her teammates, continue to provide basic project input, and negotiate future meeting requests.
If it’s urgent, DeeDee will text her, but Sally is ready for a break, so some extra training should prepare her virtual assistant to support the team while she’s offline.
Sally spends the afternoon dealing with the aftermath of a synthesizer that tricked a company’s CFO into transferring funds to a Bitcoin wallet. Scammers generated a synthesizer – a photorealistic holo of the CEO – and used it to trick the CFO into sending money. They even synthesized voice and facial mannerisms by skimming public videos of the CEO presenting at a conference. It’s impossible to tell the real CEO from the fake, so the board is upset but understanding.
This type of crisis work is tricky. Internal communications and change management, legal implications, fraud reporting, and reputation management are all part of the playbook. They also need a creative twist to control the public narrative and regain trust.
Sally and her team take this challenge personally and only use their virtual assistants for meeting notes. There are some seriously creative problem-solvers that only humans can pull off right now.
It’s the end of the day Sally reviews DeeDee’s finished weekly media report, makes some minor adjustments and approves it for client release.
After DeeDee is switched to “Fully Autonomous Mode”, Sally closes her laptop and heads off into the night for farewell drinks with her teammates.
Here is a list of similar technologies mentioned above. Some are advanced; others are still in their infancy.
AI-Writer uses state-of-the-art AI writing models to generate articles from just a headline
Create AI-generated training videos – no humans needed
Conversational AI makes customer service smarter
DALL-E assembles complex images from written text instructions
Video conferencing holograms
How deepfakes are used to change the course of war
Chris Dodds, co-founder and CEO of Icon Agency – digital