The good, the bad and the reality of AI in PR and Marketing

The good, the bad and the reality of AI in PR and Marketing

By Cara Sloman, Force4 Technology Communications  

AI holds a lot of promise for PR and marketing professionals but navigating the complexities to derive real value presents a number or challenges. While AI powers some of our best research tools, it also has produced some comically bad press releases. Chief marketing officers must examine the role of AI in good PR and marketing today and how to derive the most value today. 

AI in today’s PR and marketing programs  

The integration of AI technology into contemporary PR and marketing programs has ushered in a new era of enhanced productivity and operational efficiency. Through strategic implementation, AI has proven to be a powerful tool that not only automates mundane tasks but also elevates the overall workflow, allowing teams to channel their energies into intricate problem-solving and creative endeavors. 

In the realm of data analysis, AI has emerged as a game-changer, furnishing organizations with actionable insights that expedite decision-making and unveil unexplored business prospects. This translates to quicker identification of trends, smarter market positioning and swift adaptation to dynamic market shifts. For instance, AI-driven solutions now facilitate reporter research, efficiently generate media coverage alerts, and fuel innovative brainstorming sessions, enabling PR and marketing teams to remain agile and responsive. 

AI’s ability to streamline business processes cannot be overstated. The automation capabilities it offers lead to a reduction in errors, ensuring improved consistency and an overall boost in productivity. Notably, AI services tailor-made for the PR sector are on the rise, catering to the unique demands of PR agencies and practitioners.  

To illustrate, well-established AI-powered tools like Google Analytics have long served as reliable instruments for gauging campaign performance and audience engagement. This shows how AI has become ingrained in the very fabric of data-driven decision-making in PR. Taking this a step further, platforms like MuckRack’s new offering are harnessing the prowess of AI to assist in drafting pitches, scanning for pertinent keywords and suggesting potential media outlets for targeted outreach. By doing so, they drastically cut down the time required for these tasks. 

The bad: Hallucinations, bias and more 

However, as may headlines have warned, AI is not a neutral and always-right comms partner. There are several potential risks and challenges associated with integrating AI into marketing and PR programs. The first is a concern that AI will replace PR and marketing jobs. For content marketers, journalists and PR writers, the concern is understandable. And while there has been an enormous hype around ChatGPT as a content production engine, it has proven unreliable without discerning human judgement. We’ve all either read the stories about hallucinations or experienced false information firsthand.  

For instance, in a cringe-inducing court hearing, a lawyer who relied on AI to craft a motion full of made-up case law was completely duped by ChatGPT and said he “did not comprehend” that the chatbot could lead him astray. And earlier this year, an Australian mayor filed the first-ever defamation lawsuit over ChatGPT content after the platform distributed information that falsely implicated him in a foreign bribery scandal. As such, I don’t think AI is going to replace human writing jobs any time soon. 

Another negative is the mistake of overreliance on AI without considering human expertise and judgment, particularly in decision-making processes that require ethical considerations and nuanced reasoning. Humans still need to be in the loop, ensuring accurate and unbiased data for AI algorithms by addressing data quality issues, data biases and representation.  

This also means having guard rails in place to protect against marketing team members inadvertently uploading sensitive IP or corporate information into large language models (LLMs) or open source AI tools that mine content for training the AI service itself.  

The Reality: Maintain the right balance   

It’s critical to strike a balance between human judgment and AI-driven decision-making. Recognize the strengths of human expertise, intuition and ethical judgment alongside the speed and accuracy of AI algorithms. Balance automation with human creativity and intuition to maintain the brand voice, emotional connection and originality in marketing strategies. Using a personal touch that uses real experience in addressing customer pain points that you as a trusted thought leader bring to the equation will quickly become a competitive differentiator in a flood of mass-produced, generic AI content. 

Ultimately, these are tools to be used in conjunction with human traits. Think of AI systems as decision-support tools that augment human capabilities, enabling collaborative decision-making rather than relying solely on AI recommendations.  

The human-AI partnership 

As with the steam engine and the fax machine in days past, the use of AI in most professions is inevitable. Yet truly great PR and marketing program require skills that are uniquely human. LLMs and other AI tools can do amazing things, but they will never be humans interacting with the physical world and other humans. This will always be your advantage as you and your organization evolve. Use AI as a tool to improve efficiencies and as a useful starting point for that human factor to step in.   

Ready to take your marketing program
to the next level? We can help.