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Missing a human touch? Delving into AI's influence in PR




In an age where technology dominates the landscape of communication, it's easy to assume that artificial intelligence (AI) holds the key to revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, including public relations (PR). However, AI struggles to grasp the intricacies of human emotions, cultural nuances, and the ever-shifting dynamics of public opinion. In this blog, we’ll delve into why AI, while impressive in many respects, still lags behind in effectively navigating the complex realm of public relations.


If you hadn’t guessed already, the above introduction was written by ChatGPT. I asked the AI to write me an opening paragraph for a blog explaining why it isn’t effective in PR. To be fair to the machine, it hasn’t done a terrible job. The American spelling is annoying but easily fixable if I prompt it to write in UK English. And the sentiment is worryingly self-aware as it acknowledges the main point I plan on making in this piece. 


However, the AI has fallen into the trap of using one of its major tells:

‘... we’ll delve into why AI, while impressive in many respects, still lags behind in effectively navigating the complex realm of public relations.’ 


If you’re not a journalist, you may not immediately clock the red flag. It isn’t immediately obvious unless you know what to look for. But PR pitches have been delving into a lot recently.  


A piece in the Evening Standard noted the strange phenomenon. In one City reporter’s inbox, the word was used in more than 150 emails received over the past three months. 


This is a problem.


As PR professionals, our role is to use language that journalists do (human English). In an ideal world, a journalist should be able to lift our copy and use it directly in their article. If we’re constantly using AI to write our pitches, it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of both our clients and the media we are pitching to. 


That isn’t to say we should turn our backs on AI. To ignore it would be like refusing to acknowledge the internet. The future of the industry will no doubt come to rely on it in some form.


In the short term, it will drastically improve certain aspects of our roles, like automating previously time-intensive tasks and freeing time for more creativity. It can help research and develop new ideas (when using the up-to-date version). I’ve lost count of the times a journalist has asked for an image to accompany a story and the client doesn’t have one. This is where AI can come in handy, generating a royalty-free shot that ties the piece together. 


We also conduct a lot of data analysis. Whether surveys or a client’s proprietary data, AI can help pull out interesting anomalies quickly and make manually combing through the results a lot easier. 


But overall, AI lacks and needs a human touch. Or as the machine put it: AI struggles to grasp the intricacies of human emotions, cultural nuances, and the ever-shifting dynamics of public opinion. Talk about over-compensating. 


As the line above demonstrates, AI loves to make itself sound clever. Using a ten-dollar word when a one-dollar word works perfectly fine is a particular bugbear of mine.


I’m sure there will be a world in the not-too-distant future where we can’t imagine AI not in our lives. Right now, AI needs us more than we need it.  


As I’ve been a bit mean to AI, I’m going to let ChatGPT have the final word: 


As PR professionals, it's our responsibility to ensure that our pitches resonate with journalists in a language they understand and appreciate, bridging the gap between our clients and the media landscape. So while AI may impress with its capabilities, let's not forget the irreplaceable value of the human touch in the complex realm of public relations. 


I couldn’t have put it better myself. Actually, I definitely could. 

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