Until a few short months ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking that artificial intelligence (AI) was the preserve of science fiction – a technology that was no closer to us than the ability to travel at the speed of light. Experts spoke about the transformative impact that AI could have on all of our lives, but its practical implications for the everyday person were still, mostly, hypothetical.
AI and machine learning (ML) tools have been very successful in supporting a wide variety of industries for a number of years, especially in manufacturing, healthcare and finance. The applications for the PR industry remained largely elusive, until OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022. Suddenly, a whole slew of generative AI tools with the ability to mimic human behaviour in producing text and image content flooded the market. Whilst the adoption of these tools has been swift (ChatGPT reached 100 million users in two months), the rush from industries to identify practical implications for their own uses has been just as rapid. Several benefits for the PR profession have already been identified.
At its most basic level, the obvious use case for generative AI from the perspective of the PR professional is copywriting. It can generate drafts, refine messaging, and provide valuable suggestions, freeing up valuable time for PR professionals to focus on strategic thinking, relationship-building, and other high-value tasks. Moreover, AI tools can adapt to different tones, styles, and target audiences, ensuring consistent brand messaging across various channels. While AI can offer remarkable efficiency in terms of generating copy, it’s crucial to strike a balance between automation and the human touch. PR professionals bring nuanced insights, creativity and brand knowledge to the table, which are vital elements in crafting compelling narratives. Human expertise is indispensable in providing context, understanding the target audience’s emotions and motivations, and infusing authenticity into the brand’s voice.
AI-powered tools have also revolutionised idea generation in the PR industry. Previously, brainstorming sessions and creative meetings were the primary methods of generating new concepts and strategies. While these traditional approaches are still valuable, AI can now complement them by offering a fresh perspective and innovative ideas. AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data, including social media trends, consumer sentiment, market research, and competitor analysis, to identify patterns and generate insights. By processing this information, AI tools can propose creative angles, content themes, and even anticipate potential challenges or opportunities for a PR campaign. This data-driven approach helps PR professionals make more informed decisions, refine their strategies, and improve the overall effectiveness of their campaigns.
Traditionally, proofreading involved meticulous human review to catch errors, ensure consistency, and maintain the integrity of a brand’s messaging. However, AI tools can now offer a faster and more efficient alternative. AI can utilise instantaneous processing and machine learning algorithms to identify grammar and spelling errors, suggest improvements in sentence structure, and highlight inconsistencies in tone or style. These tools can quickly scan and analyse large volumes of text, helping PR professionals save time and ensuring that their content is polished and error-free.
Should we be concerned about what AI tools such as ChatGPT, Jasper or Google Bard might mean for our industry? Relying solely on AI tools for functions like copywriting, idea generation and proofreading may overlook the nuances and context-specific considerations that the PR professional brings to the table. AI may not always grasp the intricacies of language, cultural sensitivities, or the subtle nuances required in specific industries.
Think back on how social media transformed the way we approached strategy development. It ultimately served as a complementary tool in the arsenal of the PR professional. Whilst it is undeniable that AI will transform our industry, it is important to view it as a new string in our bows rather than as our replacement. AI can enhance the profession, but human expertise, creativity and ethical considerations will continue to play a central role as we move into a new era of communications. By combining the speed and efficiency of AI with human oversight, PR professionals can achieve a harmonious balance between accuracy and creativity.