While artificial intelligence (AI) is not new, AI tools like ChatGPT have captured our attention this year and the media buzz has been tremendous. In less than two months since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT surpassed 100 million monthly active users. There is little doubt that this technology has the potential to reshape the industry. With all the hype, what actually has been or will be the impact on PR? Will these tools eliminate the need for PR professionals or corporate communication teams? Or will these AI tools make us better at our jobs — more efficient and effective?

AI tools like ChatGPT quickly aggregate information and use simple rules to generate narratives that are substantive but generic. The technology scrapes information from the internet to create a written response based on probability, not reason. Since ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence lets it learn from interacting with humans, the technology is only as good as the questions we ask it and, therefore, we can’t assume that the feedback the technology gives us is accurate.

AI tools in addition to ChatGPT include GPT-4 (essentially a ChatGPT upgrade), Google Bard, Synthesia, ElevenLabs’ Prime Voice AI and BeFunky.

I was surprised to learn that currently, ChatGPT-3 only “knows“ information from September 2021 and farther back. And to the extent it “knows” things, AI is also notoriously inaccurate and often just makes things up — which can be risky when using it for professional writing. For example, earlier this summer, two attorneys were fined for using fake cases and opinions in court pleadings that were generated by ChatGPT. The judge noted in the sanctions decision that while there is nothing wrong with using AI as a tool, professionals are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the content it develops. Therefore, if we are going to rely on AI, we must become experts at fact-checking the text that it generates.

Is AI here to help?

There is no question that AI can be a powerful tool for public relations and content creation. For better or worse, generative AI tools can provide you with ready-to-publish content. With just a few prompts, these tools have the ability to produce content such as drafts of press releases and blog posts in mere seconds. 

What I find amazing is that with its language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can analyze and understand the nuances of different target audiences and generate content that is specifically designed to appeal to those audiences. This is definitely a benefit for PR professionals who are always vigilant in making sure their efforts reach the target audience.

Will robots take over our jobs? That’s a question not just for PR professionals but people in many industries, since artificial intelligence continues to advance at a rapid speed. However, it seems the best thing PR professionals can do right now is get ahead of it and find ways to incorporate AI to enhance and improve the customer/client experience without replacing our human efforts.

What are the risks of using AI for PR?

I reached out to Dr. Michael Klipstein, a senior public policy advisory for Baker Donelson in Washington, D.C., and former director of International Cybersecurity Policy for the National Security Council, for his thoughts about generative AI tools.

He indicated that although AI brings ease and a low barrier of entry for use at work, a couple issues must be considered.

“Data privacy and the data veracity must be considered,” said Klipstein. “Since popular AI tools such as ChatGTP scour the internet for ‘answers,‘ this data may not be what a PR firm wishes to push to the forefront. Harmful information, correct or not, may be retrieved by the algorithm and used. This comes into play when false accusations or misleading information is posted online and not corrected or verified. An example of this would be a political statement with a heavy slant on an issue that potentially is inflammatory, if not blatantly false.”

Klipstein cautioned that “no ’ethical’ standards exist for regulating the bias of AI” yet. He noted that “this has been proven multiple times by companies [that] used AI to conduct a talent search for executives and unknowingly eliminated every candidate [who] wasn’t Caucasian and over 50 years old.”

Implementing, training and tuning proprietary AI algorithms is costly and time intensive, requiring a long return on the investment. There are also cybersecurity concerns. Nefarious actors breaking into a PR firm’s network can alter an algorithm or poison the data used by the algorithm, leading to false or misleading answers, according to Klipstein.

As noted in a previous Jaffe blog, “AI lacks the influence of strategic thinking that adds an element of humanity.” This important to remember (and relay to clients).

AI has the potential to reshape the corporate communications landscape. Corporate communications teams have become responsible for safeguarding their brands from potential misfires caused by AI technology. However, it can be challenging to know where to begin in assessing the risks and benefits.

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more AI-powered tools and applications that will help improve decision-making, optimize processes and enhance the overall customer experience.

This article was 100% written, edited and proofread by human beings. If you would like an experienced PR professional to help with your organization’s PR, or assess how AI can help, reach out to me, Carlos Arcos, at carcos@jaffepr.com.