Does artificial Intelligence have a place in PR?
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Public Relations is a field that has been built on a sense of humanity and interpersonal communication. Artificial intelligence, despite making strides in many other fields, has only recently begun to make its way into the PR world. However, in a career dependent on personal connections and human understanding, could artificial intelligence play a role?
I don’t think it could. In an article published by Forbes, responsibilities such as contact searching and predictive data analysis were named as a few of the tasks AI has begun taking over in the PR world. While this could help cut down on project timelines and minimize error, there is some concern as to the efficiency of these programs. Many brands and public figures utilize PR specialists to attract a specific audience, and AI might not be advanced enough yet to successfully target these publics.
In 2020, MasterBot published the first press release written by AI. In the program’s acknowledgements to the public, the “AI stated that it had the ability to see what humans can't.” This statement insinuates that the AI is capable of overcoming biases and public influence in its work. Yet, AI’s usage in other fields has revealed that even computer programming can be prejudiced.
In 2016, Microsoft released a Chatbot that began sending highly offensive messages within only a few hours of its release. The issue: the AI pulled data from anonymous public sources that were able to be influenced by anyone. Even AI that would not typically interact with gender, ethnicity, or sexually related content can be infiltrated and trained to act upon prejudices.
In a field that depends entirely upon human interactions and the ability to recognize and empathize with emotions and sentiments, the introduction of AI into PR needs to be essentially flawless. Any room for error can result in inaccurate data retrieval, controversial brand imaging, and further issues for the companies.
There is concern for a decrease in human management of AI in more common areas of PR such as customer service and branding that could allow for things to slip through the cracks. We’ve all experienced the frustration of sitting on the phone waiting to be connected to a real person, or the “online chat” features being entirely unhelpful. These are just a few examples of how AI has made everyday life harder, not easier.
Artificial intelligence, as of now, has no place in public relations operations. The technology is too new and unpredictable to be efficient in a field that is about building mutually beneficial relationships to ensure the success of an organization. Until we can be certain that AI poses no risk to public relations specialists and their responsibilities, it is best to avoid its introduction to the workforce entirely. The PR world is not one that has room for error, and using a computer programming system that has been proven to be vulnerable to cyber attacks and malfunctions would only add to a list of concerns within the field.
By Bethany Andros
Bethany is a fourth-year student at San Diego State University. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2023 and begin a career in fashion public relations in San Diego.