What IBM Watson Means for PR

I'll admit, I've given IBM a hard time about superfund sites in the past. Maybe you wouldn't call me the company's biggest fan. But, my geeky nature was captivated by everything Watson in the weeks and months leading up to the Jeopardy "machines taking over the universe" saga. Deep Blue 2.0. And I loved every minute of it.

I watched in nerdy awe the Nova special all about AI ("The Smartest Machine on Earth"). I played against Watson with the IBM infographic on the New York Times website. Watson, you had me at mechanized hello.

The PR person in me has been dissecting this total media coup all weekend. Every channel I watched, read, or listened to covered Watson... for months. Granted, IBM invested tons of time (read: brain power) and resources (read: money) into the supercomputer, but still. Talk about a PR lovefest.

This is it, I decided. The perfectly executed example of the "Do something cool!" anthem I've trumpeted in times of frustration, where I've seen companies with so much potential be cautious. IBM's Watson = "Show, don't tell."

Sure, IBM could say, "we have a highly intelligent supercomputing solution that has the capability to mimic human decision-making." ZZZ, what? I fell asleep twice during that sentence but that's scarily where most companies go. And embarass their PR people by slapping their names on the press releases after they take out everything interesting.

So, you say you're super smart? How about you do something cool about it. Listen to your PR person's whacky idea. You don't have to actually do it—you're the expert. Let it evolve on a whiteboard or idea paint and turn into something outrageously cool. It might take a lot of time and money but guess what. Companies that do something cool make waves with the media, attract the best talent, and get spotted.

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  • Elizabeth Walther

    Thank you for your article Erica. As a fellow PR person, I share your sentiment. While not nearly as cerebral as the IBM Watson project, this video made my execs nearly pass out. This is what $2000 a green screen and a wacky idea gets you: http://www.youtube.com/brocade...