Technology’s continuous advance is affecting every profession, including public relations. In recent years, especially in 2023, all the talk has been about generative artificial intelligence (AI). In public relations, generative AI has the potential to automate routine tasks such as writing press releases, social media posts and email pitches, thus allowing practitioners to focus on strategic, big-picture work.
Generative artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT or Google’s Bard chatbot, can generate text, images and other content derived from the data on which the AI software is trained. Artificial intelligence can create content that — in most cases — is virtually indistinguishable from content created by people.
Generative AI is being used in industries such as entertainment and advertising to create personalized content for audiences.
Some fear that generative AI will render PR practitioners obsolete, but I don’t believe that it will. Instead, I predict that PR practitioners who are slow to add AI to their skillsets may be replaced by communicators who learn to leverage the evolving technology. Many PR agencies and departments are already using generative-AI tools to improve their efficiency and productivity.
AI for social media
Social media is another area where communicators can use generative AI to their advantage. As we know, social media is a crucial way for PR practitioners to connect with audiences and promote brands. However, managing social media accounts can be time-consuming, even overwhelming, especially for larger organizations. Generative AI tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social can automatically manage social media tasks such as scheduling posts and analyzing engagement metrics.
But the AI technology is not just about automation. By analyzing data from social media and other sources, AI can generate content tailored to the interests and preferences of specific audiences. This capability not only helps to improve engagement but also helps to build stronger relationships between brands and their audiences.
Not a substitute for PR skills
Still, generative AI is not a substitute for human creativity and intuition. PR practitioners have valuable skills that cannot be replicated or replaced by AI, such as strategic thinking, crisis management and the ability to build relationships.
We should continue to hone our writing and other communications skills and regard AI as a tool to help us become more efficient and effective in our work. This, in turn, can lead to better outcomes for clients and organizations.
So, what does this mean for PR practitioners? It means that in order to stay relevant and competitive, practitioners need to be willing to learn and adapt to new technologies like generative AI. Those who refuse to do so risk being left behind as the profession continues to evolve.
To stay ahead of the curve, we should take the time to learn about generative AI and how to integrate it into our workflows. We must be willing to experiment with new technologies and find what works best for ourselves, our clients and our internal audiences.
But even as we learn to incorporate AI technology into our work, we need to stay mindful of the ethical considerations involved. While AI tools can boost efficiency and productivity, they should not be used to deceive or mislead audiences. Content generated by AI should be clearly labeled as such.
By embracing generative AI and other new technologies, while also continuing to develop traditional communications skills, PR practitioners can provide even more value to their clients and organizations.
Kaden Jacobs, APR, is a vice president at Poston Communications. He has held PR leadership positions in K–12 education, health care and the business sector for more than 10 years and is passionate about growing the profession. Connect with him on LinkedIn.[Illustration credit: mast3r]