An official website of the United States government

Remarks By PD Counselor Robert Gabor at the NIPR’s Directors’ Conference – Uyo, Akwa Ibom
November 14, 2023

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,  

It is an honor to address you all today at the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations’ directors’ conference.  This gathering represents a unique opportunity to DELVE into the PIVOTAL role of technology in PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS.  The topic, “Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations,” is certainly timely and important.

Let me first thank my friends at NIPR for the invitation to join you today.  It is truly my honor.  And the timing is quite fitting, as just over a year ago, when I arrived in Nigeria, the NIPR Annual General Meeting was the first major event I attended.  I was very impressed that day, and in all our interactions since then, as I have found NIPR and its members to be highly professional, highly dedicated to their craft, and highly patriotic.

Indeed, that is why I think NIPR is uniquely qualified to consider the role of AI, not only in public relations as a profession, but in Nigerian society at large. 

As President Biden has said, artificial intelligence holds extraordinary potential both for promise and peril.  In this era of rapid technological advancement and disruption, AI and other emerging technologies have the potential to help solve urgent challenges, and make our world more prosperous, productive, and sustainable.  At the same time, irresponsible use could imperil stability by amplifying disinformation, stifling competition, and eroding trust.  

In terms of potential, I think we are all discovering that AI is increasingly not a novelty but a mainstay.  By automating routine tasks, AI allows PR professionals to focus on higher-level strategic thinking, ultimately leading to more effective campaigns and initiatives.  AI empowers PR teams to identify emerging trends and to make data-driven assessments of audience sentiment, both of which are essential for crafting targeted and impactful messages.  

My own team in the embassy, and my colleagues around the world, are carefully embracing AI.  We diplomats are not exactly early adopters, but as the world gets more complex, we do need tools that can make us more efficient.

For example, we use AI to monitor media reporting.  No more press clips.  Our team has much sharper tools at its disposal.  AI now helps us find content we care about more quickly and from a wider range of sources.  For some of our embassies, it helps translate from local languages into English, further saving time and effort.  

So, AI clearly holds significant promise.  But it also has risks – political, economic, and social.  That is why the U.S. government is working to promote responsible innovation in AI.  As President Biden outlined in a recent Executive Order, that effort will require investment in AI-related education, training, and research.  

In times of technological disruption, whether it was putting a man on the moon or a smartphone in your pocket, the United States has been a leader, and this is true with AI development as well.  However, the United States cannot address AI’s challenges alone.  That’s why we are consulting with international allies and partners to develop a framework to manage AI’s risks, advance its potential for good, and promote common approaches to shared challenges.  

Indeed, some of our recent high-level visitors from Washington have met with AI innovators here in Nigeria, making this one more area where the United States sees the potential for mutual benefit in our partnership.

So, throughout this conference, I encourage you to explore the various facets of AI in public relations, exchange ideas, and consider new approaches that can further your professional goals.  Let us seize this opportunity to learn, collaborate, and leverage technology to advance not simply public relations, but the larger goals of social and economic development in Nigeria.

I wish you all a productive discussion and an insightful conference.

Thank you.