07 May 2024
by Dr Martina Byrne,

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Public Relations Work

Last year, the International Communications Consultants Organisation published a piece of research which said that 25% of public relations leaders say they will never use AI tools such as ChatGPT. The report also said that just 4% were already using ChatGPT or similar. As we enter 2024 a lot has changed. To help members I’ve compiled a list of resources from a wide range of sources. I encourage you to dip in and out and begin or continue to inform yourself about these new technology tools.

Ethics Guide to Artificial Intelligence in PR

Guide published by CIPR UK and the Canadian Public Relations Society in 2020. Authors: Jean Valin APR, FCPRS, Hon CIPR Fellow; Anne Gregory PhD, FRSA, Hon CIPR Fellow. Read PDF here.

As Steve Jobs said: “Computers don’t make mistakes, humans do.” 

Things to Watch/Listen To:

A Game-Changer: the Impact of AI on corporate and brand communications

AI and Public Relations - PRII Expert Briefing

On Wednesday, 21 June with the support of ESB Head Office, PRII held an expert briefing for members on AI: the opportunity and impact for PR practice with keynote speaker Andrew Bruce Smith, specialist digital PR trainer and consultant. Watch the video and to read more here…

Listen to BBC Radio 4 ‘Word of Mouth’.  Programme host, Michael Rosen, is joined by Emily M Bender, Professor of computational linguistics at the University of Washington. Cutting through the recent hype, she explains how chatbots do what they do, how they have become so fluent and why she thinks we should be careful with the terminology we employ when talking about them. A very informative half-hour from a source you might not expect. 25 April 2023

Watch a one-hour-long edition of Waddscon (23 Feb 2023) hosted by PR thought leader Stephen Waddington which focused on strategic issues related to the application of artificial intelligence in public relations practice and the public sphere. The speakers and topics included:  Andrew Smith, PR technologist, Mark Rofe, digital creative, Maya Koleva, measurement expert, and Bruno Amaral, Internet philosopher. In turn, exciting, delightful and frightening with some applied examples from practitioners.

Things to Do 

Guides to Writing Better Prompts

From OpenAI itself — https://help.openai.com/en/articles/6654000-best-practices-for-prompt-engineering-with-openai-api

and from PRNewsOnline — https://www.prnewsonline.com/three-tips-to-master-the-art-of-ai-prompt-writing/

This one practical, daily goal for AI and PR by Michael Smart (21 June 2023)

Play with ChatGPT, not using any personal or business data. Here’s ‘How to get started using ChatGPT’ by ZD Net (27 January 2023).

Here’s a list of more AI writing tools –  there’s more than ChatGPT and no doubt there will be even more in a few months. 

If you want to use AI you need to learn about how best to ‘prompt it’. Here is a free online course that will get you from very basic to advanced. Here’s the promotional video. 

Things to Read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and the impact on public relations (PR) practice” - whitepaper by Andrew Bruce Smith and Stephen Waddington (22 February 2023) 

Media release by CIPR: https://newsroom.cipr.co.uk/cipr-report-finds-ai-tools-in-public-relations-set-to-explode/) (22 February 2023). 

Hacking AI in PR: using AI tools to write a press release” – a run-down of steps to take in this instructional blog by Stephen Waddington  (8 March 2023). 

Why do PR professionals need to gain a better understanding of AI tools?” - explainer by Andrew Bruce Smith, published in The AI Journal (10 March 2023). 

The realities of using ChatGPT to write for you – what to consider when it comes to legalities, reputation, search and originality (11 March 2023) by Michelle Garrett, PR Consultant, writer and speaker. Michelle was named among the top ten most influential professionals in 2021 & 2021. Read her article here http://bitly.ws/DXFQ .

The Impact of AI on PR. In this blog post PR Superstar, a professional public relations service with a special interest in technology try out some of the current crop of AI tools such as video creation to do public relations work. Includes lists of the pro and cons. (24 April 2023) 

‘The Rapid Application of AI in Public Relations’ by Stephen Waddington, PR Consultant & PhD candidate, and founder of Wadds Inc., explores the implications of the rapid development and increasingly pervasive use of AI systems in the PR sector for Communicate magazine. (3 April 2023) 

‘AI in the Communications Industry 2023: opportunities and risks’ is a paper by PRovoke Media (formerly the Holmes Report) (5 April 2023) 

The promise and pitfalls of AI in today’s PR agency workflow. It’s a balancing act writes Tiffany Guarnaccia, 12 April 2023 

Pros and cons of ChatGPT for PRs” - PR professionals weigh in with their personal experience of the pros and cons of integrating AI in their work. By PRMoment, (8 February 2023). https://www.prmoment.com/pros-and-cons-of-chatgpt-for-prs  

AI will disrupt PR, but will it help or hinder? On one hand, AI is an efficient tool that will make products better, faster and cheaper. On the other, it’s terrifying to contemplate how many jobs might be lost by Dan Perry in PRWeek (4 May 2023) 

Post for the research organisation The Institute for Public Relations by Martin Waxman on how ‘human’ generative AI can appear to be and he offers four strategies to help you approach AI in an intelligent and humane manner.    (14 March 2023) 

How will AI change the types of jobs in PR? Daney Parker, PRmoment.com (12 April 2023) 

PR Management platform Propel launches new AI tool, Amiga” - a news story by PRWeek about how Propel is introducing a new generative AI-powered capability designed to draft and customize pitches to journalists (8 March 2023). 

Of interest to those working with Irish public sector bodies: Government staff warned over uploading corporate data to ChatGPT. Sunday Business Post (25 April 2023) 

11 Ways PR Agencies can leverage AI for their clients in 2023 The Measurement Standard (25 April 2023)

AI disclaimers – should PRs publicly disclose how they use AI in their work? Yes, says Sam Patchett in Influence Magazine (26 April 2023) 

Read Patrick Freyne’s account his dealings with ChatGPT from The Irish Times, 29 April 2023. Informed, informative and with a hint of Patrick’s humour.  

AI chatbots have been used to create dozens of new content farms Bloomberg (1 May 2023) 

Fascinated and Frightened: How are communications professionals viewing the ai opportunity ahead? (May 2023) A report from the WE Communications Agency in association with the USC Annenberg Centre for Public Relations. Research among 400 communications leaders in the USA carried out in April 2023. Top finding: 80% say AI will be ‘extremely or very important’ to the future of PR work yet only 23% say they are making changes to the way they work. Report includes an AI readiness Playbook.

The State of AI in PR: A study by Muck Rack (May 2023) A strong majority of PR professionals (61%) said they either already use AI or plan to explore them. Only about quarter of respondents were on the fence about the new tools, and only 15% were emphatically against exploring them. Within companies, there are some differences between employees’ level at the company and their propensity to use AI. Those who work in the C-suite were more than 10% more likely to report already using the tools compared to those in coordinator positions.

The Impact of AI on Public Relations The latest Wadds Inc paper on AI in PR and what you should be doing about it. (June 2023) A management paper for corporate communicators and public relations practitioners . Covers the following topics: AI and management; The impact on public relations practice; new opportunities for public relations practitioners created by AI; examples of AI tools that can be applied in practice; and five practical steps to exploring the impact of AI in your work.

Top law firms tell staff to stop using ChatGPT in work for clients (11 June 2023) Lawyers and solicitors at Mason Hayes & Curran and at William Fry are warned to be aware of the risks of using AI when preparing or advising on cases by Cónal Thomas and Catherine Sanz

Focus: Google, one of AI’s biggest backers, warns own staff about chatbots By Jeffrey Dastin and Anna Tong, Reuters (15 June 2023) The Google parent has advised employees not to enter its confidential materials into AI chatbots

German tabloid Bild cuts 200 jobs and says some roles will be replaced by AI (20 June 2023) Publisher Axel Springer announces re-organisation of regional business and outlines plans for digital future.

An update to Google's privacy policy suggests that the entire public internet is fair game for its AI projects. (2 July 2023)

Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations and Communications: cases, reflections and predictions by Dr Ana Adi (6 November 2023)

USC Annenberg Relevance Report 2024 by the USC Center for Public Relations focused entirely on how technology will impact the future of the communications industry and encourage a journey of experimentation with AI. (14 November 2023)

Cision has published a detailed guide called ‘From AI TO Z: A Starter Guide to Using Generative AI in PR & Comms.’ (11 December 2023)

More technical reads 

Professor Bender (mentioned above in the BBC radio interview) is one of four authors of an academic paper written in March 2021 that is being referenced in mainstream media On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? – a stern warning on the dangers of the human tendency to attribute meaning to text, in combination with large language models (like ChatGPT) abilities to learn patterns of forms that humans associate with various biases and other harmful attitudes, leads to risks of real-world harm should LM-generated text be disseminated unchecked and/or uncritically i.e. parroting. 

Where generative AI such as ChatGPT came from….from the MIT Technology Review Feb 2023 https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/02/08/1068068/chatgpt-is-everywhere-heres-where-it-came-from/ .

Humans still needed: An analysis of skills and tools in public relations Discussion paper by Jean Valin APR, FCPRS, Hon FCIPR (May 2018)

Artificial Intelligence in Business Communication: Published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly 2022, Vol. 85(1) 7–33 (2022) The rapid, widespread implementation of artificial intelligence technologies in workplaces has implications for business communication. In this article, the authors describe current capabilities, challenges, and concepts related to the adoption and use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in business communication. Understanding the abilities and inabilities of AI technologies is critical to using these technologies ethically.  AI is changing the business landscape, including business communication: newly developed AI technologies offer to support, mediate, and facilitate business communication. Some tools profess to help teams be more effective. Other tools purport to make difficult communication processes easier for a variety of stakeholders. What do we need to understand?


This is a ‘living’ resource and will be added to as more/better information becomes available.

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