Razor launches first AI Governance Framework for both agencies and clients


As part of a deep commitment to improving the quality of work and impact from the PR profession in South Africa and the world, Razor has developed an AI policy and risk management framework that elevates the conversation in strategic communications from “we can do this” to “how do we do this responsibly if we do”. The new AI policy will ultimately be made open-source.

31 August 2023, Johannesburg — Razor PR, M&C Saatchi Group South Africa’s public relations, strategic communications and reputation management agency, has announced the launch of South Africa’s first AI Governance Framework and Risk Assessment Model.

“The new tools have been developed to address the very real gap in ethical management and implementation of AI in the creative industries. The use of AI has accelerated quickly over the last year, but what has not kept pace is the management of ethics, governance and risk that support the implementation of this in the work we undertake for our clients,” said Chris Lazley, Partner & Executive Creative Director at Razor.

“Razor is committed to lift the quality of work coming out of our PR as a profession, not just the work it supports clients on. It’s vital that we as an industry stand up around key issues and themes that in effect have an existential impact on our future. Setting a new standard for responsible AI utilisation in the communications industry is not just a consideration – it’s the right thing to do. Our clients charge us with managing reputation and we as an industry need to meet them with the same level of trust and candour in an ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence,” said Dustin Chick, Partner & Managing Director at Razor.

Razor’s new policy will serve as a compass, guiding the agency and its clients towards ethical and effective AI implementation. It has already been included into the contracts of all Razor’s people and into the master agreements that govern the relationship Razor has with its clients.

“While Ai offers a wide range of opportunities across industries, it also presents complex risks. These risks include the spreading of mis- and dis-information —a growing concern within the PR industry — as well as data privacy issues. Razor’s AI Governance Framework anticipates and mitigates these potential challenges in order to protect its clients’ reputations and build trust within the industry and the public,” said Lazley.

“At the heart of the policy is a principles-based approach, which empowers professionals to make informed and ethical decisions. This is guided by eight interconnected principles that ensure the ethical use of AI, including prioritising human needs, maintaining accountability, and fostering transparency,” he said.

In addition, a risk modelled rubric has been developed as a practical tool for translating these values into actionable guidelines and benchmarks. This rubric takes the form of a series of yes/no questions related to the use of a specific AI tool, in turn generating a risk rating from low to high depending on the answers.

“Our AI Governance Framework is rooted in a commitment to harnessing the power of AI to help in our mission of fostering powerful conversations, while safeguarding human-centric values,” said Jacques Burger, Founding Partner & Group CEO for the M&C Saatchi Group in South Africa. “In making it open-source, we want to proactively addresses the multifaceted risks associated with AI by emphasising transparency, accountability, comprehension, responsibility, sustainability, and privacy in our industry. By putting these principles into practice, we aim to lead by example and ensure that AI technologies are used responsibly and ethically.”

Looking Ahead

The AI Governance Framework is a testament to Razor’s dedication to advancing communications while being a responsible steward of AI technology. Razor has also dedicated itself to reviewing and updating its policy to remain relevant and responsive to the ever-changing AI landscape, as its applications continue to grow and evolve.

The framework has been developed in conjunction with Emile Ormond, a PhD Candidate at the University of South Africa, completing his research on the risk governance of Ai ethics. The framework has also been moderated by global comms advisory and veteran, Stephen Waddington, who is currently completing his PhD at Leeds Business School.

“This policy presents a guiding light, ensuring both our own people, as well as our clients, are able to navigate the AI landscape with integrity and prudence. For us, this is underscored by our commitment to trust, honesty, and excellence,” said Lazley.

About Razor:

Razor is the strategic communications, reputation, and public relations agency of the M&C Saatchi Group South Africa. Razor PR was named the World’s Best New Agency by global industry magazine Provoke, beating out agencies in established global hubs such as New York and London. This is the first time ever that a South African PR agency has been recognised on such a global footing. In its 2022 annual global rankings Provoke named Razor one of the five fastest growing agencies globally, and the overall best performing agency across Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Financial Mail named is PR agency of the year in 2021 and again in 2022. It was also named African Agency of the Year at the EMEA SABRE Awards 2022 and was awarded with grands prix for best overall campaign in Africa as well as the best overall reputation management work across EMEA for the last three years running. Globally, Razor is the most awarded agency in Africa and from Africa, having been listed as the fifth most creative PR agency in the world. Provoke has ranked Razor one of the top 5 fastest growing agencies in Africa, Mid-East and Asia Pacific (including India) for the last two years.

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