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AI & PR – Is there a place for Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations?

Tech and mainstream media have had nonstop coverage of AI or Artificial Intelligence. They have shared the good, the bad and the downright scary, and today, it’s quickly shaping into one of the most polarizing tech topics of our time. If you are one of those people getting Cyberdyne Systems-vibes, you are not alone. Governments and tech leaders around the world are getting involved in regulating how AI can and should be used, researching use cases as well as potential harms. The reality is that regulation is years away, but the technology is here now and rapidly evolving. It has already been adopted in the workplace and added to many productivity tools, search engines, software platforms – and in place across a variety of industries, including PR.

Women writing in a notebook with an overlay image of a digital brain

Which AI Tool is Best for PR?

So far, the 2020s look like the decade of mainstream AI, with new tools and capabilities launching every few months and the hype train running at full speed. For PR pros, the best AI tools use “generative AI” or the use of algorithms and language models to “generate” text using source information collected from all over the Internet. One of the most common and popular is ChatGPT which is powered by OpenAI.

In simple terms, generative AI models take text prompts and generate new content in the form of text, images, audio, video or code. In a large language model, like ChatGPT, an algorithm predicts the next word in a sequence of words. If you enter a question like “Describe public relations in one sentence,” it spits out one sentence in about 1.5 seconds: 

Public relations is the strategic communication process that aims to build and maintain positive relationships between an organization and its various publics to foster understanding, trust, and favorable perceptions.”

And the fun part is that you can see it generate the answer one character at a time like a little ghost is typing it out. But while these tools are easy to use and can really streamline your workflow there are many potential risks around these tools such as accuracy and privacy concerns.

How is artificial intelligence used in PR?

As in most jobs, you want to use the right tool for the right job. Just like you don’t hammer nails with a wrench, AI is not always the right tool for the job. It can, however, be very helpful when doing certain time-consuming tasks like research and reporting. AI can help you learn a complex topic very quickly, gather disparate sources from the Internet and analyze coverage data – nearly as fast as Neo learning Jujitsu.


As an example, if you need to research autonomous mobility and the six different levels of autonomous driving, you can spend hours combing through websites and news articles or you can ask an AI model to help collect the information for you.

Where it gets tricky is verifying the accuracy of the information. We’ve all heard about AI hallucinations, or models presenting made up or incorrect information. In the example of autonomous driving, as it is a widely discussed topic it could be safe to assume the information is correct, but you should always try and determine where the information came from, and fact check what you can. One trick is to perform a reverse search by copying and pasting part of the response into a search engine and seeing what pops up. You can then determine if that source is credible or not.


Another example is using generative AI tools to help spark ideas or tweak a headline.  While in the PR trenches and on deadline, it’s not uncommon to have all the information you need for a headline but struggle to put together something that is easy to understand, powerful and communicates the correct message. AI tools can lend a little creativity with a few keystrokes.

Analytics and Monitoring

AI can also be used to determine tonality for an article. Instead of reading an article and manually determining the tone, tools like can analyze an article (using just a link to the article) and determine its tone in seconds. Luckily, this is a feature also built into many media monitoring services, but checking one or two articles is super easy using these tools.

There are several other meaningful AI capabilities for PR pros as well, which include data analytics, monitoring online discussions for crisis management, analyzing audience behavior to help develop and fine tune messaging, and many more.  

Stranger Danger!  When AI Should be Avoided in PR 

Despite AI’s advantages, discernment is crucial in identifying scenarios where its use might be counterproductive or even harmful.

Content originality

The most obvious place it should not be used is to “create” original content that needs to be developed by PR professional. Sure, you can ask AI to crank out a 500-word press release in 5 seconds, and it will. However, there is no way to determine where the information is coming from, and you can bet much of it came from another press release somewhere in the universe. Additionally, AI will often “write” or copy, entire sentences and paragraphs from other sources to formulate its results, meaning the content you ask it to create is plagiarized from other sources. Ouch.  


Another pitfall is that the content could be entirely wrong. In cases where AI can’t find source material, it will often “create” or fabricate information to help bridge that gap, without telling you it did so. This scenario is not only embarrassing, but there could be legal consequences if a company publishes fictious information. Not quite a PR example, but close – in 2023 a lawyer used AI to help prepare an argument for his client, but the technology ended up creating fake cases with fake judgments and when it was discovered by the Judge, the lawyer was quite busted and claimed he didn’t know it the cases were false. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for the lawyer or his client.

Confidential information

Generative AI models are trained on your inputs. The AI scrapes nearly every corner of the Internet including the data you submit in a prompt. It is crucial to avoid sharing confidential information with generative AI tools.

Sensitive messaging, bias and copyright

The risk of unintentional bias and misinformation from using AI tools is high. Consider avoiding AI when creating sensitive messaging, communications involving ethical matters, and developing creative products via AI image generators that could infringe on copyrighted material.

How Do We Feel About AI in PR? Rob's Take

Technology and generative AI are wonderful things when used correctly. Like hammers and screwdrivers, AI is a tool that makes a job easier, but it must be used correctly to get accurate results. There is also a learning curve when using AI. Just like what we’ve learned over the years using common search engines, AI is no different. Think, garbage in, garbage out. Luckily, AI is very similar to today’s search engines, so learning how to use it is relatively easy but takes practice to master. On top of that, search engines like Google now provide AI-generated content as part of search results which is something I’ve really grown to like. Just look for the “Generative AI is experimental. Learn more” at the top of your next Google search.

Most PR Pros will agree there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done, and if AI can help shave a few minutes off your research or data analysis, that’s a great thing. But knowing how to use the technology, and more specifically when not to use it, is just as important as any time you get back using it. It is up to the individual to understand when and how to use AI and if you really don’t know, put on a pot of coffee and put in the work.


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