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Ten tips for using Chat GPT in PR

Credit: Credit: iStock, Laurence Dutton

Generative AI has quickly become a must-use tool in the PR industry, as we saw in last week’s feature on using AI to write press releases. In the third in this series on AI, we’re honing in on how industry professionals use one of the most ubiquitous AI services: ChatGPT.

Here are ten tips from PR professionals on how they use ChatGPT to their advantage.

Get bad ideas out of the way early

Will Cooke, head of strategy and creative at communications agency M&C Saatchi TALK: “One tip is to use ChatGPT for creative due diligence, which is critical for distinctive and effective campaigns. Generative AI are trained on what already exists, so are great for generating average/expected tactics, but less so for genuinely attention worthy campaigns.

“By using the ‘naff PR ideas for X’ prompt, we’re able to get a hit list of the generic ideas we need to avoid and speeds up the process of creating ideas which are seen, shared and talked about.”

… and use it as a foundation to build good ideas

Catherine Warrilow, brand director at PR agency The Plot Thickens: “ChatGPT is a brilliant thought starter. I use it on a daily basis to get my right brain firing. The key is to tell it about you and your business, your personality, style, customer demographic, USPs and even company name.

“For example, this morning, I asked for unorthodox and even uncomfortable ways to attract new business. It gave me the 10 suggestions I requested ranging from a digital escape room designed as a brand strategy to unconventional networking ideas. I wouldn't expect anything in a finished state from ChatGPT, but when you're researching ideas or creating the foundations for something, then it's pretty epic in my mind.”

Take caution as the legal terrain is still the Wild West

Kelsey Farish, media lawyer and specialist in generative AI at content and media law firm Reviewed & Cleared: “Generative AI technologies such as ChatGPT offer exciting use cases for productivity and content creation. But they also present a labyrinth of legal challenges and ethical considerations that businesses, especially those in the public relations and marketing sectors, should navigate with caution.

“Three key legal issues to be aware of are copyright, data privacy, and defamation. To begin, ChatGPT has led many to question who holds the copyright to content generated by AI. Is it the user, or the AI developer? Some even argue that AI algorithms should be capable of holding copyright! And what about the creators of the content upon which the AI was trained? Is their copyright infringed if the work is used to generate new content?

“In addition to copyright, data privacy concerns are paramount, as generative AI relies on vast datasets which may include potentially sensitive information. Ensuring compliance with the UK Data Protection Act, GDPR, and other privacy regulations is crucial. Moreover, the potential for AI-generated content to inadvertently spread misinformation poses reputational risks, making it essential for PR professionals to establish robust verification processes.”

The free version might not cut it

Alex Warren, associate director at PR agency Wildfire: “Generally speaking, I avoid the free version of ChatGPT, but I would recommend PRs adopt and experiment with a ChatGPT Team subscription.

“Knowing the data isn’t used for training purposes makes it far more secure, and the quality of responses is much higher. The ability to train your own GPTs, using existing content, tone of voice documents and strict agency guidelines, is also incredibly useful for building tools that meet your specific needs.”

Use ChatGPT to help make specialist information exciting

Lucy Horsman, associate director at PR agency Tyto PR: “Throughout my career in B2B tech PR, I’ve found myself explaining everything from modular banking to biometric systems to journalists. Without fail, it’s analogies and storytelling that are most effective in not just simplifying intricate topics but bringing them to life and making them relevant for a far broader audience.

“Now, I use ChatGPT as a powerful creative sparring partner to inspire these analogies and stories, helping me turn abstract ideas and sophisticated technology into something media and their readers can understand and get excited about.

“ChatGPT can quickly spot and replace industry jargon with everyday language. And if, like me, you love a pun or a slightly provocative headline, a five minute back and forth can usually come up with something fun and bold that makes your writing stand out from the crowd and pop in journalists’ over-flowing inboxes. AI isn’t ruining creativity in comms. It’s empowering it.”

ChatGPT can replace your spelling and grammar checker

Becca Tee, digital PR lead at PR agency Repeat Digital: “I use ChatGPT pretty much every day. It’s great for research, ideation, headline generation and media list building, but what I use it for most is as a replacement for Grammarly.

“Of course, as with Grammarly, you should take its suggestions with a pinch of salt. But what’s super useful about it is that it’ll go through your work line by line if you ask it to, telling you of any spelling or grammatical mistakes.

“The best thing is that it tells you why something isn’t right, which means that I get to learn as I go. Even though I’ve been writing my whole career, it’s still essential I have that accountability and am open to new perspectives, which is something ChatGPT can offer.”

… and makes localising text from UK to US English a breeze

Georgia O’Brien-Perry, digital PR manager at PR Agency Bulldog Digital Media : “When you have clients across the world, I find it’s really helpful to use ChatGPT to help ensure that my emails and press releases use the correct spelling as per each location.

“For example, there are lots of small spelling differences between UK and US English, and while I can pick up on the majority, ChatGPT can help me mop any small ones myself or my spellcheck may have missed. Think ‘enrollment’ and ‘enrolment’, or ‘fulfil’ and ‘fulfill’.

“This saves me from having to constantly change my spellcheck settings and adds another layer of proofreading that ensures minimal mistakes, something I as a person with ADHD will always be grateful for!”

Treat ChatGPT as an extra team member

Alison Shadrack, founder of PR Agency Adia PR “AI can be particularly valuable for freelance PR professionals or those that aren’t in a team setting, providing a resource to bounce ideas off of and spark creativity.

“Integrating AI into the PR process can enhance productivity and innovation, but it's imperative to maintain a balanced approach, combining the efficiency of AI with the irreplaceable human touch and thought process.”

Don’t use ChatGPT’s responses verbatim

Sarah Stella Edwards, account manager at PR agency Be Yellow "ChatGPT can be such a brilliant tool for ideation and I've certainly used it for creative pitch ideas and angles I may not have thought about or considered before. But that's exactly where I draw the line.

“Once I've retrieved some interesting angles/ideas from a well written prompt or two, I then go ahead and write my pitch using my skills I've crafted over years of practice; AI is simply not sophisticated enough to produce engaging and well written copy... yet!

“My absolute pet peeve when it comes to ChatGPT is seeing it being used verbatim for blogs, articles or whatever; you can spot a ‘copy and paste’ job from a mile away.”

Simulate and plan for crisis situations before they occur

Philippe Borremans, vice president at International Association of Risk & Crisis Communication (IARCC) “The use of ChatGPT has significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of crisis communication planning in my area of work. It provides new ways to plan for and handle emergencies by simulating conversations and giving immediate feedback for scenario planning.

“ChatGPT's processing capabilities make it possible to develop clear and empathetic messages that resonate with those involved, which is critical in times of uncertainty. I've used ChatGPT for crisis media training and crisis simulation planning, always making sure no confidential information is used, of course.”

ChatGPT has quickly become one of the most renowned Generative AI tools, and not without good reason. Whilst it’s still a relatively fledgling service, which certainly needs some human backup to ensure accurate results, it has quickly proved itself as a useful and flexible tool in aiding PR professionals in a whole range of tasks.

What appears to be most prominent in the PR professional’s view, is that ChatGPT’s adaptability can make it immensely helpful in even the most niche tasks, so long as it is used carefully and correctly.

Alex Beach, writer at PRmoment

Next week we examine ethics in PR and how AI is affecting them.

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