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AI in PR - Opportunity or threat?

With technology rapidly changing the media landscape, AI is likely to have a significant effect on the PR industry. Repetitive tasks like developing coverage reports, creating media lists and scheduling social media posts have already been fully automated by many PR agencies. From this standpoint, AI is helping us work more efficiently, which frees up time for strategic and creative work. Great!

But, with the emergence of ChatGPT – a system that has been trained to generate text, similar to how a person does – are our skills as PR professionals under threat?

At first glance, AI seems like the dream content-writing employee. It doesn’t procrastinate. It doesn’t get distracted by cute pets when working from home. It doesn’t even need to take a tea break.

We have to admit, watching ChatGPT write is pretty mesmerising. There’s no stopping to restructure a sentence or look up a fancier synonym on WordHippo. It just ploughs on through with unwavering confidence in its writing ability. Very unrelatable.

With technology advancing so quickly, we’ve comforted ourselves, perhaps naïvely, with the assumption that machines will never possess the creativity required to displace humans. This is, in part, due to our tendency to deify our favourite creatives – artists, writers, musicians. There’s just no way AI could write Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’, right? In fact, creativity is a notion that feels so uniquely human, it’s difficult – and maybe a bit scary – to imagine it being emulated by a computer.

But we’re already seeing examples of computer programs replicating aspects of creative artistic behaviour – there’s even an AI tool dedicated to generating poems in the style of your favourite poet. Is the poetry it generates kind of bad? Yeah. Will it give your computer a virus after using it? Maybe. But what is poetry? What is art? If creativity is just saying the same thing differently, AI language models like ChatGPT are certainly capable of that.

So, should PR professionals be worried about being replaced by robots? Not just yet.

In truth, ChatGPT’s writing is pretty lacklustre. You can ask it to generate social media content, or even get it to draft a blog to very mild and underwhelming success. It’ll do the job, but it won’t feel satisfactory. Like eating a microwave meal. Quick and easy, but kind of tasteless. There’s also the question of accuracy – currently, ChatGPT only has access to information up to September 2021. Not ideal. So far, AI lacks the knowledge and human qualities that are needed to help our writing connect and resonate with specific audiences – which of course, is crucial in the PR world.

What we’ve found ChatGPT is good for, however, is acting as an idea generator, or giving inspiration for a starting point regarding a creative idea. Regarding this, there is space for AI in the creative parts of PR, and companies would do well to embrace it. Ultimately, AI is just another tool, like Microsoft Office. It’ll make your job easier, but it won't be able to do it for you. At least not yet anyway.

But don’t take our word for it. We asked ChatGPT if it can replace PR content writers, and this is what it said:

Skilled content writers are an essential component of successful PR efforts, as they possess the creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence necessary to create engaging and impactful content.

So that's ok then.

If you'd like to work with a team of skilled content writers (all of which are human), please get in touch.

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