AI's rapid integration into seemingly everything makes it hard to avoid. Regardless of how you feel about AI (excited, apprehensive or doing doomsday planning), it’s likely here to stay for PR professionals.
Generative AI has been a hot topic among marketing and communications professionals. Some professionals have been concerned that AI could take their jobs due to its perceived ability for content creation.
Good news: AI isn’t a threat. It's a tool to be embraced. PR and communications professionals are uniquely positioned to educate on the opportunities and challenges with AI, and introduce processes and protocols around companies’ use of AI.
PR Professionals, Take the Lead
Similar to the introduction of social media in the early 2000s, which changed the face of communications, AI has already turned the conversation about communications upside down.
Adoption of AI technology is a topic that's top-of-mind for business leaders. More than half (55%) of companies have invested in generative AI since early 2023, according to a recent Gartner Research poll.
There's an opportunity for PR pros to dive into AI adoption and take the lead in the conversation about using AI in the workplace. The pace of change that AI has set means PR pros will be left behind if they don’t start learning, integrating and deciding how you to use it. Public relations professionals can set the high standards and quality assurance processes that are needed to usher in this new technology.
Powerful Key Benefits
Like many other tools in a PR professional's arsenal, AI tools are only as powerful as the input and direction they get. When used properly, however, they offer key benefits. They can take your work to new levels, and potentially shrink the time that's needed to create great content.
Generative AI models collect information from numerous internet sources to create new content, making them powerful research tools. Be very specific in your research prompts to get the information that you're looking to research. Give precise directions, and verify the sources.
AI can be a powerful brainstorming tool. As a creative ideation buddy, it can pull topics, data and references into one location. Supply the parameters, and AI tools can deliver creative ideas and thought starters.
Content demands can feel endless. AI tools can take existing content and optimize it for various platforms and channels. Turn a blog into an email newsletter and social media posts quickly, or identify image captions for specific channels.
AI has added new power to tools that track multi-media. AI can track brand sentiment and spot "deep fake" videos, and this technology carries the demands that monitoring vast amounts of content and conversation can create.
Collecting and analyzing data was one of the first adoptions for AI technology. This use is now integrated into PR reporting, social media management and market analysis tools. The result is a deeper examination of data and trends at a faster rate. PR teams can use these results to build PR strategies and inform real-time adjustments for PR efforts, especially useful in crisis management.
Include your whole team on your AI strategy and keep training top of mind.
Choosing the Right AI Tools for Communications
Technology tools have been rapidly integrating AI models into their platforms to make them “smarter.” What's the catch? Artificial intelligence alone isn't a smart and impactful solution. When paired with a professional's expertise, it's a powerful support tool. Here are some key considerations to determine what you need most in tech that uses or integrates with AI.
Consider what capabilities you need. Are you looking for full content creation, keyword research, automated alerts to brand mentions, or competitor analysis? Different tools will offer different solutions depending on what data they can extract from AI models. Understand the types of insights and reporting features available in each tool before making a final decision.
Appoint a team of testers. This team will learn the technology and test various use cases to identify strengths and weaknesses within how you and your teamwork. Getting more than one person involved will ensure you'll know how different roles will work with the new technology. You could even consider whether sharing the tool with other departments outside of the PR team could be worthwhile.
Dedicate time to it. Particularly for generative AI tools, you may need to invest time in "teaching" it to your brand. Be ready to train the tool, and dedicate time and energy to training your team. A product like Jasper.ai can increase your generated content volume, but you'll need to onboard it and teach it your brand voice and style -- much like a new team member.
Key Considerations for Using AI
Industry professionals who fear their jobs are in jeopardy of being taken by AI likely have not yet used it. While technology is changing how we work, it does not replace context, relationships and brand knowledge. The expertise and thought leadership a good professional can provide is only amplified by AI.
To set yourself up for success, keep these tips in mind.
- The output is only as good as the input. Generative AI tools require clear and concise direction.
- You will need to, and should, edit results. In addition to correcting mistakes, you'll likely need to layer in brand messaging and a human touch.
- Be prepared for the learning curve. There is a time investment in learning the tools, implementing the process and refining the output.
- Be transparent about AI usage. Clients and stakeholders should be aware of what content is being generated, how, by whom and why.
- There is risk with AI. It's important to understand the potential for errors and be aware of the legal considerations when using AI-generated content.
- Stay up to date on AI advancements. AI is an evolving technology and new tools, methods, and applications are being developed continually.
How to Use Generative AI Responsibly
As we enter an era where AI is increasingly integrated into the way businesses work, it’s important to establish trust and understanding between you, your teams and clients.
It’s up to communications professionals to ensure that all stakeholders understand how this technology works — both its potential applications and limitations — as well as any associated compliance.
Be aware of AI misinformation & bias
An issue with Generative AI is the potential for an increase in misinformation. For example, ChatGPT (a natural language processing tool that allows human-like conversations) may be pull information that is outdated, and if the accurate answer isn’t available, it will make up or “hallucinate” an answer, resulting in misinformation.
In addition, AI doesn't have a value system and is pulling from sources that may be biased, which results in the replication of those biases or stereotypes in what it creates.
Understand copyright and plagiarism
Though some tools exist to spot blatant plagiarism for text, there is still liability in generative AI creations infringing on copyright. As AI algorithms pull information from so many sources, they do not cite them as readily. Expect new aspects of visual copyright law to impact AI-generated photos and videos as well. As protectors of our company's and clients' brands, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of where it is safe and unsafe to use AI-created assets.
Developing an effective risk management strategy can help reduce or eliminate the potential for any misinformation issues down the line. This should include monitoring how AI algorithms are being used and making sure that any generated content meets legal and brand guidelines.
Promote transparency and disclosure
Stay open and honest about your company's use of AI to build trust with your key stakeholders, reinforce ethical practices and protect reputations. Develop clear department and company-wide policies that outline how internal and external teams use AI in communications.
Similar to policies on the use of social media channels, your AI policies should clearly spell out who can use what AI technology, when and for what purpose. Ultimately, each company is responsible for where information is coming from, whether it's from the brand, a chatbot or from its thought leaders.
Educate and train
Anytime you have a rapidly evolving new technology, training is a crucial strategy to ensure you can educate your employees on the capabilities, risks and ethical considerations involved. Be sure that all employees comprehend the responsible application of AI and are familiar with the company policies.
Artificial intelligence is here to stay. We’ll continue to find more applications for AI in communications, media, marketing and PR. To avoid falling behind, it will be necessary to identify opportunities for your team to experiment with and test AI technology.
Seek professional guidance
You don't have to have all the answers. Whether you're looking for ways to integrate into your PR strategy or digital marketing campaign, setup internal policies, or simply train your in-house communications team on a particular tool, get help from professionals. A PR agency or communications consultant can bring experience and recommendations across brands and industries to support your plans.
Still feeling overwhelmed? Set up a call with our PR agency to discuss how AI might fit with your team, strategic communications or PR plans.