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Pros and cons of ChatGPT for PRs

There has been plenty of coverage of ChatGPT recently, with many scare stories about how it is doing kids’ homework and generally being far too clever for its own good. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot system released by OpenAI last November that answers any questions and can even compose poems. The good news is that Chat GPT, in theory, can do a lot of your writing work. The bad news is that ChatGPT can do any of your writing work, because isn’t writing one of the most fun parts of PR? Here we discuss the benefits of using this tool, but also its failings.

It is unoriginal and outdated

Sophie Mizrachi, content manager at digital marketing agency Semetrical: “One of the main things to bear in mind is that ChatGPT is trained using 2021 data, so it can often serve outdated information - which is no good for newsworthy PR or fresh content for search performance. Similarly, since it generates text based on existing content, it does not offer original thought, unique data or commentary. Not to mention, ChatGPT also falls short when it comes to aligning with your tone of voice.”

It is useful for first drafts

Sophie Mizrachi: “The chatbot is useful for generating creative ideas, providing summaries and writing first drafts. It can also produce large amounts of text with a quick response time, making it ideal for efficient content scaling - so long as it goes through rigorous quality assurance (by humans) afterwards! The key is to use ChatGPT in tandem with human expertise, not as a substitute.”

It can add punch to copy

Alex Warren, senior account director at agency Widfire PR and author of Spin Machines: “Whilst I wouldn’t recommend that PR people over rely on ChatGPT - particularly as a way to generate ideas or content from scratch - it is a great way to take your existing ideas and build on them. Often, if I need to ‘punch up’ copy a little, I run it through ChatGPT. Likewise, if I’ve got some good ideas from a brainstorm that need fleshing out, ChatGPT can help to add more colour and detail. It’s not about replacing people, it’s about adding value and building on their work.”

It does pose a threat to agencies…

Alex Warren: “We do need to be wary of what this sort of technology means for the industry - and the agency model. Over the next few years, we will see more and more work being possible without the need for an army of agency-side staff. To fight against that, agencies need to focus on upping the quality of their work. Those that combine AI with their own creativity and expertise will see the biggest benefits.”

… so agencies need to add value

Tamara Sword, MD and founder of thought leadership agency ThoughtLDR: “Right now, ChatGPT is like a 2:1 graduate intern, but it can run a lot faster. My advice to all AEs is get up to speed on tools like this pronto.

“Most businesses have AI in their stack but ChatGPT has been the ‘great AI awakening’. The world is about to be flooded by a tsunami of AI-generated copy, billions of pedestrian takes with no POV. But let's be real: nobody wants to be the schmuck reading content generated by a machine.

“And this is where agencies can continue to add client value: generating ideas, building relationships and driving activations that cut through the AI noise and actually connect with audiences.”

It lacks emotion and originality

Anna Craven, senior account director at agency Stir PR: “Recently, Nick Cave slammed ChatGPT song writing as ‘a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human’.

“Seeing this, I spent some time asking it to respond to some writing briefs and in many ways, it was incredibly effective. But for all it offered in speed and accuracy, it lacked in emotion, which is often that key element that engages consumers and triggers an emotional response.

“Tech like ChatGPT isn’t capable of original thought - it can only draw on something written previously - so PRs will continue to be relied upon to inject the perspective of unique human experiences, ensure emotional intelligence across all our communications, and importantly, generate completely original concepts, because these skills are what it is to be human.”

It is genuinely helpful

Louise Watson-Dowell, PR and digital strategy director at PR agency Definition Agency:: “I admit it: I’ve been playing with ChatGPT for the last three weeks and I love it. I mean, beyond the novelty of asking it to write about the importance of brand comms as a haiku (LOL) it’s genuinely helpful.

AI can review and create content. But it cannot offer wise counsel or a unique idea. That’s where the real value in our roles is, and that won’t be snatched away for a while yet I’d say.”

It is only a tool, not a replacement

Paula Elliott, MD and Founder of C8 Consulting, a disruptive tech PR agency. “ChatGPT poses a big question to our industry: is generative AI an asset or a threat?

“Although ChatGPT has brilliant potential as a PR tool, it is not yet an all-encompassing, stand-alone capability and should not be considered as one. In our industry, knowing what the story is, how to frame it, and why it matters is half the job. As generative AI content becomes more mainstream, the best pieces will be determined by the most considered prompts and good oversight. ‘Prioritise uncommon ideas’, for example, prompts ChatGPT to offer out-of-the-box advice. It’s a handy phrase, but only a subject expert can know if these ‘uncommon’ ideas are accurate and helpful.”

It can be factually inaccurate

Victoria Usher, CEO and founder of PR and digital marketing agency GingerMay: “Whilst ChatGPT has its uses, it’s been shown to make up factually inaccurate answers. In an era where we’re tackling disinformation, that’s a major concern. Right now, this tool and generative AI more broadly are in the early stage of hype and experimentation, but there is a way to go before we establish AI’s best function within PR, marketing, and other industries. I expect that day will come, but these tools won’t overshadow human-powered creativity and ingenuity.”

It could help create new jobs

Anne de Forsan, CEO and founder of Stories Out: “Tech solutionists would revel in that fact we’re even discussing this! I’d have to mitigate their enthusiasm - as with every major tech evolution, the natural reaction is that people fear their jobs will be replaced by machines. The ChatGPT fad brings fear closer to home, in the backyard of PR.

“Bear in mind, with ChatGPT, the data input is human-based - mostly ☺️ - so, we might witness the rise of new PR jobs - AI feeders or some kind of reversed-data scientists. They will only be freeing up our best assets giving us more bandwidth to come up with creative, innovative and strategic recommendations for our customers.”

I am afraid to say this feature has been completely written by a human, so please forgive any mistakes that ChatGPT wouldn’t have made!

This article offers further discussion about AI in PR

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