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Navigating the Digital Landscape: PR in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Two digital AI hands reach out from skyscrapers towards each other

Artificial Intelligence (AI) already impacts our lives daily, whether it’s a customer service chatbot or voice assistants like Alexa. Industries across the country are grappling with what this growing popularity means for their business and PR is no different.

As an industry, we are still trying to fully understand both the risks and opportunities associated with the rise of AI technology in recent years.

However, the use of AI in PR is not new. In 2018 the public relations body, CIPR, founded a panel on artificial intelligence in PR to explore the impact and opportunities of this. Yet, it’s only in the last year that technological maturity has jumped sufficiently to enable easy access and use. Indeed, research conducted by CIPR found that in 2023 around 40% of PR tasks are now assisted by AI tools.

At DCA, we’ve had several clients ask whether they should be using AI tools like Chat GPT to help with their marketing and communications. So how can AI tools can benefit your business through PR? And what are the opportunities as well as the risks?

How can Artificial Intelligence be used in PR?

There are a host of tools that can be used. The CIPR’s AI in PR panel identified some 6,000 of them from text transcription and translation to media analysis. Here are just a few:

  1. Content creation: AI writing software can be used in each step of the creative process, from generating ideas to final edits. It can help you craft personalised and targeted content for different audiences. Whilst most PR campaigns already use audience segmentation, only a small number of segmentations is manageable. AI can go further to create more specific audience segments to help you deliver better-targeted content.

  2. Media monitoring: Keeping track of media coverage is time-consuming, but AI algorithms can automate media monitoring by scanning and categorizing news articles, blogs, and social media mentions. This not only saves time but also ensures that you don't miss any relevant information.

  3. Social media management: AI can play a crucial role in optimising social media management. AI algorithms can schedule posts, analyse engagement metrics, and even recommend the best times to reach target audiences. This level of automation allows you to focus on creating engaging content while AI handles the logistics.

What are the benefits and opportunities?

The use of AI as part of your PR activity can help improve your efficiency, productivity, and quality of content. AI tools can:

  • Help to streamline some of your day-to-day tasks, reducing the time spent on activities such as media monitoring and social media scheduling.

  • Help create more personalised and targeted content, which is likely to have a better engagement rate.

  • Help you deliver on areas which may be underserved such as audience analysis.

By making you more efficient it can free up your time which can be redeployed on tasks that add more value. That could be developing client relationships or setting a strategic direction for your communications activity.

What are the risks and threats?

Whilst AI tools have come a long way, they are still relatively new. That means it’s important to be aware of the associated risks and threats.

  • Bias in algorithms: AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on. If the training data contains biases, the AI algorithms may perpetuate or even amplify those biases. This could lead to unintentional bias in media monitoring, sentiment analysis, or content generation. Overall, it could potentially impact the fairness and objectivity of communication strategies.

  • Privacy concerns: AI often involves the processing of large amounts of data, including personal information. There have been ethical concerns raised about this and how this complies with privacy regulations and data protection laws which are still unresolved.

  • Limited contextual understanding: AI algorithms may struggle to grasp the nuances of human language and context. Misinterpretation of sarcasm, cultural references, or rapidly evolving events can lead to inaccurate analyses or inappropriate responses. The software can also lack context. For example, it wouldn’t understand how a changing political situation could impact a new campaign. Similarly, it might not know what will reflect poorly on your organisation’s values and goals.

Mitigating these risks and issues proactively will be important if you want to benefit from this technology. As a PR professional, whatever content you put out, even if you have used AI, is still your responsibility. Therefore, it’s crucial to review any content before publishing to ensure its accuracy. You’ll want to check it’s in line with your values and goals as an organisation. Also, checking it is ethical is crucial.

What does Artificial Intelligence mean for the future of PR?

One of the most common concerns raised by those looking at whether to embrace AI in PR is the potential for job losses. But ultimately at DCA PR, we believe that AI cannot replace a good PR professional because, at the end of the day, PR is about people and relationships.

There are plenty of tasks which cannot be automated and that require PR experts’ knowledge and skill to guide, advise and craft. Whilst AI writing software can help kickstart the creative process, quality content still relies on talented PR professionals who understand the audience, the brand, and the organisation’s ambitions. AI is just one tool in the arsenal, allowing us to spend more time on the things that matter – our clients.

That is why you must get to grips with how AI can benefit you and your PR activities now. Start by identifying the task you want to streamline, then investigate how AI can help and what works best for you. Whether you head up your organisation’s PR activities, or provide consultancy advice to a range of businesses, being literate in AI is becoming integral to giving expert advice.

If you would like to read more, check out the CIPR blog published in September 2023 which provides well thought out analysis on what AI means for PR in the future.

The DCA team thrive on a creative challenge, but we like to keep it real. Our ethos is all about creating authentic content that delivers tangible results. If you’re looking for assistance with your public relations, get in touch.


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