How AI will change PR (and what that means for you)
Katelynn MarfousiKM
Katelynn Marfousi
April 18, 2023
16 minutes read

How AI will change PR (and what that means for you)

Artificial Intelligence is here – and it's coming for PR

We didn't expect this day would come so soon.

We thought we still had time.

But the AI overlords are knocking at our door and demanding all of our jobs.

Not really, but it can feel like that if you tune into the cacophony of hype surrounding ChatGPT, GPT-4, and all of the other dystopian-sounding acronyms that people have been throwing around like confetti since ChatGPT's release in November 2022.

So we have to ask: how is AI going to change communications? What does this mean for your friendly neighborhood PR professional? And will comms simply devolve into a bunch of robots talking to one another?

In short: yes.

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The future of communications

There are many differing opinions on the topic of how AI will change many industries, including comms. If you ask AI itself, it reassures you with dulcet tones that it is not, in fact, gunning for your job:

Of course, a robot would say that.
Of course, a robot would say that.

But really, there have been a lot of conversations about how automation and technology will impact the livelihood of people who are starting to feel… a little concerned.

Nobody is safe!
Nobody is safe!

To say people are panicked is an understatement.

AI chatbots went from clunky, borderline useless toys to an incredibly popular craze, seemingly overnight. And people seem to be falling into one of two camps:

  1. Those who have embraced AI with no reservations and are completely leaning into the idea of ChatGPT and other AI programs completely taking over and revolutionizing the world
  2. Those who fear change, think AI is a fad, and are super resistant to embracing it

Realistically, the future is likely somewhere in the middle. It will change a lot of things, but 99% of people won't lose their usefulness completely overnight (and as a professional writer, I kind of need to believe that). Particularly in the PR industry, things are inevitably going to change. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should all give up hope and throw away our computers (yet).

The dystopian future of interpersonal communication.
The dystopian future of interpersonal communication.

AI can be a powerful tool to bolster PR if it's used correctly. In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of AI, talk about some of the drawbacks, and analyze the nuance of this new tech in the PR industry.

The pros of AI in PR

Before we panic too much, what good can we expect to come from AI in the communications field, and what new technology should we get excited about?

Boring tasks are now the robots' problem

Your new AI friends are now capable of handling the mundane aspects of the average PR and marketing job. And trust us, we love to automate where we can.

You can ask chatbots to create a variety of first-draft technical documents, do some preliminary research, and help you get over a case of writer's block.

ChatGPT and other AI tools can create (admittedly quite generic) first-draft copy for things like emails, job descriptions, and other dry-but-necessary text.

ChatGPT, raising the bar in passive-aggressive emails since 2023.
ChatGPT, raising the bar in passive-aggressive emails since 2023.

Some examples of cool, boring crap the robots can now do:

  • Analyze your writing for improvements and tone
  • Suggest schedules and prioritize tasks
  • Provide synopses of large texts
  • Create first-draft social posts, press releases, and other standard copy
  • Suggest variations in length and tone, giving you a great wall to bounce off

Help you do your work faster

AI, and I cannot stress this enough, will not replace high-quality creatives. In fact, one might argue that with the proliferation of AI and chatbots, the need for quality, engaging content has never been greater.

But, when used correctly, AI can streamline the process and leave you more time to do the important stuff that a soulless robot could never do.

Get you to the v1 draft of translating your press release

Can robots nail all the nuances inherent in human translation? Absolutely not. But if you're already going to redraft your press release in another language, an AI translation tool like the one built into Prezly can give you a running start. If you already use something like Google Translate for this, then the job AI does will be infinitely better.

What AI will not do for PR

AI is not limited to ChatGPT and other similar chatbots, of course, and many tools have already been making the lives of PR professionals and agencies easier for years. But here are a few things AI cannot and will not do for PR.

Build relationships

We here at Prezly talk a lot about building relationships in PR because generic spam is not a new thing that was born the day ChatGPT was released. Countless marketing and comms "gurus" have been cluttering inboxes with generic pitches long before it was cool to do so.

Relationships take work, effort, personality, and collaboration. The good news? AI will be great because it can automate some of the "boring stuff", which will free you up to actually have those engaging conversations and collaborations with media contacts and journalists.

But there's a fine line to be walked when we talk about how AI can facilitate relationships. Over-relying on AI to generate pitches will be quite obvious to any seasoned journalist, particularly as your competitors (aka your enemies) are probably using those same exact tools and prompts. Stand out from the crowd by actually being human and building relationships like a human might (Margarita Fridays).

👉 How to do PR outreach (and 10 garbage fire mistakes to avoid)

Think strategically

Strategic thinking is another popular topic here at Prezly because strategy is, and will forever continue to be, at the forefront of exceptional public relations.

AI is not prepared to help you think strategically. It can certainly augment your strategy efforts, but it cannot (and should not) be in charge of high-level creative decision-making or make strategic decisions based on data analysis.

Ultimately, these decisions need to be made by the brand based on its unique vision and ethos.

Create unique copy

Take a deep breath, copywriters.

There's been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence disrupting a number of industries, from law to medicine. But few industries have had their death sentence predicted as much nor as confidently as copywriting. And art. And music. Really, any creative industry, but particularly writing.

Why is that? Well, for one, a lot of people think that because almost everyone can write, it means that it's easy. CEOs, small business owners, and accounting teams see ChatGPT pump out 2,000 words in a few seconds and think, "Ah, guess who no longer needs copywriters!"

Communications professionals will be more important than ever as companies fight to become discernible from one another. They will need that human touch to make sure their company also appears human. 

Especially in the case of online content marketing, it’s no longer good to exist—Ai can help with the output for that. Now, we have to be creative.

Kaitlyn Kokoska, Content Marketing ManagerPolicy Advisor

Don't get me wrong, ChatGPT is an impressively adequate Language Learning Model, but at the end of the day, it is just that: a Language Learning Model. A glorified text prediction tool. It is not a creative thinker, an innovator, or an artist (as much as Midjourney would like you to believe otherwise).

"Midjourney, imagine my worst nightmare."
"Midjourney, imagine my worst nightmare."

While many companies and brands will move towards a more integrated AI/human approach due to its aforementioned benefits, AI will not replace good, human copy.

Make you stand out in your field

As impressive as ChatGPT is, it will not do better at your job than you will. Unless you're really, really bad at your job.

But realistically, ChatGPT is not making endless amounts of creative, unique content for every user. It's creating slight variations of the same content for everyone.

And also, keep in mind that anything you can produce with AI can be created by literally anyone else. If AI is the be-all, end-all of your creative process, you're essentially setting yourself up to be replaced.

The future of PR isn't letting AI do your job; it's using AI to do the boring parts so you can be amazing at your job.

Not to sound facetious, but so far the only way the various AI chatbots have changed my workday is that when I’m reading various newsletters or scrolling through LinkedIn, many of the articles and posts are about generative AI now.

As someone who deals largely with content strategy, which involves a lot of analysis and strategic thinking, I haven't found a way yet to incorporate AI chatbots into my workflow.  There will be a much greater emphasis put on the things AI can’t replicate, like lived experiences, knowledge based on years of real-world experience, and strategic thinking. Expertise backed by actual experience is going to come to the forefront of content marketing and corporate communications. AI will ultimately be good for corporate communications and digital marketing, but not because of its productivity enhancement, which is often what gets touted. It will lead to companies concentrating on more valuable content based on their expertise and actual experience to set themselves apart from companies using generic computer generated content.

Rob Swystun, Content Marketing Strategist, Consultant & WriterRob Swystun

Fact check anything

The technology is still developing, but as it stands in the year 2024, AI is often very, very wrong. About a lot of things. About enough things that should not be relied upon to be the entire research process.

This is due in large part to the fact that AI does not, by default, provide sources, nor does it know what is fact and what is just some random thing it made up.

I once asked GPT-3 to write an essay about a fictitious "Belgian chemist and political philosopher Antoine De Machelet"; without hesitating, the software replied with a cogent, well-organized bio populated entirely with imaginary facts: ​ ​ "Antoine De Machelet was born on October 2, 1798, in the city of Ghent, Belgium. Machelet was a chemist and philosopher, and is best known for his work on the theory of the conservation of energy. . . . " ​ – Steven Johnson, "A.I. Is Mastering Language. Should We Trust What It Says?", The NY Times Magazine

At this time, it's super important to double-check any information you get from any AI software.

The ethics of AI

The robots are here to stay, and we need to talk about the ethical implications. People are understandably stoked about the quick, effortless ease of navigating chatbots like ChatGPT for things like meal planning, trip itineraries, or even writing entire college essays. And, for personal use, AI chatbots are great. They still need to be fact-checked, but they are pretty great.

But what about using chatbots and other generative AI for work?

Many, many people are quick to call AI an industry killer. Who needs teachers when your child can learn everything they need to know from an iPad? But there are serious ethical issues around the use of AI (and chatbots in particular) in the workplace. Let's take a look at just a few.

1. Misinformation

While AI can be a big help for mundane or repetitive tasks, at the end of the day, it's just a text prediction tool. A brilliant text prediction tool. It cannot parse right from wrong, good from evil, N'Sync from Backstreet Boys. It just recognizes patterns within large sets of data.

This, combined with the fact that AI chatbots typically don't provide sourcing for their answers without prompting, can mean that many users receive and pass along completely made-up information as fact. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in computer science to understand why this could be a pretty terrible thing, especially if done on a massive scale with millions of users and particularly in the context of professional settings.

In the world of eroded trust, Fake News™️, and an internet where an estimated 62% of data is already unreliable information, ChatGPT misuse may inadvertently exacerbate this problem. For those in public relations, there's an increased need for due diligence to provide clients and customers with accurate, reliable, sourced, and fact-checked information, which can make the over-reliance on AI a liability.

2. Transparency

Do you know how artificial intelligence works? You may have a functional knowledge of the concept behind it, but the big AI players are not out here doing things transparently. This issue of opacity in the growing AI industry is not necessarily new and has been an ongoing conversation for years. Also, because of their incredibly complex nature, AI programs are extremely complicated to understand, even if a company chooses to be transparent about it (which most of them do not).

Where are they getting the data that informs their answers? What sources are being used, and how might those sources influence the process? It's always important to be critical on the internet, but doubly so with AI, which continues to be mired in ethical issues.

3. Bias

Many articles and think-pieces have been published regarding the controversial biases of AI software. While companies like OpenAI claim to be working on correcting this (stating biases are "bugs, not features"), the issue remains that AI companies can pretty much program their software to do or say whatever they want.

Google's Bard is another AI chatbot recently under fire for supposedly providing overtly politically biased answers. While many AI companies purport to be doing their best to avoid bias in their software, what if they… don't? What can be done to stop them from programming their software however they want, claiming it lacks bias, and distributing propaganda for one political ideology or another?

4. Privacy

So, what happens to the data you ask the chatbots to process? How is your company's IP (intellectual property) being managed? We discussed previously the issues around transparency and how data is being used by the various AI software, but what about your data (and, subsequently, your employers' and clients' data)?

Generally, one would hope that private company and trade secrets aren't being mishandled. But how much information do we realistically have about how data is being used, stored, or distributed after being handed over to these various AI services?

5. Plagiarism

As previously mentioned, by and large, AI is not creating new and original content. AI is simply regurgitating information scraped from data sources. This is true for chatbots but also applies to things like text-to-image and text-to-video generators as well.

There are huge and still unresolved ethical, moral, and legal implications of using artificial intelligence to create content, tweaking it slightly, and passing it off as novel intellectual property. The future of copyright and AI is still largely unknown.

What are the ethical implications for the future of AI in PR?

Ethics, morals, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What does this mean for the future of public relations?

There are still a lot of unknowns about the future of AI when it comes to the public relations industry. In fact, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the future of many industries and how AI will impact, disrupt, and shape those industries moving forward.

Many industry professionals are practicing cautious optimism, and many businesses and agencies are drafting SOP around how their IP can be used with AI tools. But it's hard to give a definitive answer about the future of PR or, really, anything right now since the software is only now becoming ubiquitous and is changing seemingly every day.

But it is important to be having these conversations as an industry. Some professionals see these tools and jump in feet first, not considering the murky ethical waters that can cause serious problems down the line if these tools aren't used critically and carefully. And particularly as all companies are seemingly jamming AI into all of their software, these issues will only increase.

Using AI ethically in PR

Here are our best tips for how to navigate AI in PR moving forward for the foreseeable future:

1. Practice caution

Talk to your direct report about the SOP of your agency, and talk to your clients about how they feel about the use of AI. Some businesses are welcoming AI with open arms, even replacing staff and freelancers with AI. And others are putting strict company guidelines in place around the usage of such software.

It's best not to assume that everyone is fine and dandy with their IP being fed into Mystery Machines just to save a few minutes on a task.

Nor is it wise to assume all employers or clients are okay with generative AI producing a sizable chunk of their brand copy. Having open conversations around these topics will be incredibly important moving forward.

2. Get creative

The best way to avoid legal or ethical issues regarding any AI tool or technological advancement is to simply not over-rely on it for the creative process. Sure, get that first draft out of the way with a chatbot or start a logo on Canva using AI, but don't let that be the end product. Your employer or clients could do that themselves for much cheaper.

Even if AI starts the process, make sure you put your own unique and human spin on anything it produces. Let your uniquely mortal creativity shine through, and use machines for the boring bits.

3. Research, research, research

Because of the aforementioned ethical and moral issues surrounding the constantly changing artificial intelligence landscape, it's on us to be constantly researching and fact-checking every single thing we use from AI software. "I got it from ChatGPT" will not hold up as a reasonable excuse if you accidentally publish or produce something erroneous.

There are also myriad tools out there to make sure you're not regurgitating copyrighted or protected information (but really, this shouldn't be an issue if you're following Step 2).

4. Keep a watchful eye for bias

We can't necessarily stop various AI tools from having bias, but we can use our human judgment to prevent bias and discrimination from leaking into our work. Like with all websites and news sources, watching for bias and requesting references from chatbots can help us observe and filter for "facts" that aren't actually facts.

5. Stay up-to-date about the legalities of AI in your region

The conversation around the ethics and legalities of artificial intelligence has only just begun. Some countries, like Italy, are pre-emptively banning AI tools due to privacy concerns. Even technological cowboy and prolific shitposter Elon Musk is side-eyeing the technology (claiming it could cause "civilization destruction").

While ChatGPT is only explicitly banned in seven countries, the legalities of all AI services and chatbots are constantly evolving. The best thing you can do to stay compliant is to be vigilant and follow the latest news around artificial intelligence.

6. Don't be lazy

There are fears that we're heading into a new age of pure, unbridled laziness. Who needs to try anymore when we can outsource a good chunk of our jobs to the machines? We've already seen this particular brand of laziness proliferate the PR world through cluttered inboxes full of generic spam pitches, HARO pitches written entirely by AI, and press releases pulled straight from budget copywriting software.

WALL-E being uncomfortably on the nose.

What will set you apart as a PR professional in this new age is simply not being lazy. Think strategically, get creative, and be human-centered in your approach to any and all communications. In a world where everything is written by robots, be a personn


PR, like many industries, is rapidly changing. Embracing the power of AI in PR while recognizing its limitations and ethical considerations is crucial to staying competitive despite any current and future industry upheavals.

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