Is AI Going to Take Over PR? Here's Where It Belongs and Where It Doesn't in Content Creation


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The debate over AI-generated content shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, when the Writers Guild of America sought to establish guardrails around the role of artificial intelligence in scriptwriting as part of their 148-day strike last year, it seemed to further cement the worry, especially in the marketing and PR spaces. To me, however, the idea that AI will take over promotional writing is akin to when people thought Kindle would replace books in the early 2000s. It had (and still has) a place in the choir, but it in no way replaced books; similarly, I believe AI-generated content will only become one more tool at our disposal in PR, but in no way the only, or even the central, one.

Yet the worry is there nonetheless, and not just among my colleagues. As the owner of a PR firm, I can’t tell you how often AI-generated content has come up in conversations with potential and existing clients recently. Some are against it. Some are for it. I can honestly say that while I’ve tested it, I have never fulfilled any writing or pitching requirements using AI-generated content exclusively and don’t intend to go forward.

Yep, I said what I said. Though I can’t argue that AI-generated content doesn’t have some benefits, I believe it can never truly replace original content in PR and marketing.

1. Time and cost savings vs. quality

Supporters of AI-generated content will espouse the time and cost savings it offers. In theory, it makes sense, right? Instead of the expense of having writers on staff or contract and time spent waiting for them to churn out pitches, press releases, articles, blogs, and so on, you can simply rely on technology to pull preexisting information from search engines to create it based on specific keywords, phrases, or topics in a snap. But what will you pay for lost quality? Much more than you’ll save, in my opinion.

There are numerous quality issues with AI-generated content, but let’s just touch on the big ones here. First, if you’ve written and worked with content created by people for as long as I have (ahem, decades), then you can spot the difference in AI-generated content a mile away. It’s robotic and lacks the warmth and personality many organizations spend fortunes infusing in their branding. What’s more, did you notice the mention of “preexisting information” above? That’s right, AI-generated content pulls from multiple already-published sources and may inadvertently plagiarize or come close enough to raise flags. With today’s sue-happy culture, brands don’t need the legal issues or the bad publicity that may accompany those issues.

My advice: If you’re using AI-generated content, at least have a real person who’s an experienced writer (and knows your brand) editing and adjusting it as needed to stay on message and avoid plagiarism concerns.

Related: How Does AI Writing Impact Your SEO? Here’s What You Need to Know.

2. A starting point vs. finished content

To some, the prospect of writing anything other than a to-do list causes anxiety, and even veteran writers sometimes have writer’s block. AI-generated content can be really helpful here. I have used it myself as a tool to explore ideas and spark creativity. But there’s a big difference between using AI as a starting point and considering what it generates as finished content. This is even more true in PR, where a key goal is to create connections and build relationships with your audience.

In my personal and professional life, I’ve always believed you get back what you give. If you’re an entrepreneur giving everything to get your business off the ground but relying on a machine to communicate your story, value, and what makes you different, the message will likely fall flat. The effort must be present in your content, too, to resonate; it’s just as simple as that.

My advice: Let AI help you brainstorm and outline what you want to communicate. Then, take that to an expert who can craft engaging, compelling content for your PR and marketing efforts to convince your audience why they need your products or services.

Related: 3 Non-Financial Factors That Could Impact Your Business’ Value

3. Getting the point across vs. communicating effectively

Have we devalued the power of words so much that we’re fine with sacrificing context and nuance in our communication? Okay, I may shorthand my texts and emails to my internal team, but they know me and what I’m trying to say.

Can you confidently say that regarding the media, your investors, your clients and your potential clients? Perhaps the better question is: How many brands have had to go into panic mode because a message was miscommunicated or misconstrued? I’m not saying AI is to blame for that; the only goal should be to emphasize the words you use, how you communicate them, and the intent behind them. And AI-generated content can only take you so far in this regard.

AI simply can’t come up with a client quote that’s never been uttered before. It can’t tell a story that’s never been told before. And it certainly can’t articulate passion and depth. You need original, human-generated content from someone who gets your brand.

My advice: Consider what you’re trying to say, what you hope to achieve, who you’re talking to, and where your message is going. Then, decide the most effective way to communicate that message. Here’s a secret about the best content: It seems effortless to create (which could be why many are so quick to think AI can do it just as well) but trust me, there’s more experience and expertise necessary to get it to that point than you can imagine. That’s why good PR and marketing writers are so hard to find and why I hold on to the ones on my team for dear life. And I believe having someone on your team or outsourcing to a PR firm with that ability is well worth the cost, given the results you’ll achieve.

PR had existed since the beginning of time when the gossip started, and cavepeople wrote their stories on stone walls. Yes, it’s evolved, and while we can all welcome AI as a tool, people will always be needed to bring those stories to life.



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