Eleven Hundred Agency

The media has gone all-in for AI

By Claire Ayles

With more than a couple of decades experience of working in tech PR, I’ve seen a lot of technologies explode onto the scene, capturing our imagination and – along with it – the news headlines.

When I was kicking off my career in 2000, it was all about voice- and video-over-IP. Imagine being able to see and speak to people over the internet? Mind blowing! 

Fast forward a few years, and we were all talking about this new-fangled thing called the cloud. To be honest, we haven’t stopped since.

Stories about these emerging technologies felt big at the time but looking back now, they now seem small fry, at least in comparison to the tech story of 2023 so far – generative AI. The media just can’t get enough of ChatGPT and the like.

Let’s look at the numbers.

A quick glance at our specialist search tool tells us, in the last week of May 2023, there were more than 19,000 UK media stories covering about AI. To give that some context, in the same period, there were 8,800 stories mentioning ‘Brexit’ and just under 3,000 containing the words ‘Johnson’ and ‘WhatsApp.’

‘Schofield’ came close, but not even his fall from grace could match AI’s newsworthiness, generating slightly over 18,000 UK stories.

It's not just the number of AI stories that’s noteworthy, it’s the range too. Over the last few days, we’ve learnt how AI is helping us eradicate superbugs, predicting the spread of breast cancer and playing a central role in the fight against climate change.

In addition to helping us avoid catastrophe, AI also presents a serious threat to humanity, and that’s according to some of the very people who created it. Add to these stories the constant chatter about the need for regulation, privacy and transparency – as well as AI’s threat to jobs – it’s not hard to see how the column inches have racked up.

This hype will of course pass. As we all learn more about AI’s capabilities (both good and bad), the stories will become more factual and, with it, less sensational. But just like we’re still talking about the cloud after all these years, AI will certainly be here for the long haul too, so us PRs will be reading and writing* about it for decades to come.

 *Unless we get AI to do the writing for us 😉