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The use of AI in PR: A practitioner’s copy-and-paste conundrum




by Maddie Murch




Picture this: You are managing social media for an organization, and you are feeling swamped. You have a lot of copy to write, and it feels like you do not have enough time to complete it. To solve your problem, you turn to AI. You input a prompt along the lines of “generate a caption for my LinkedIn post with the intention of marketing my brand”. The AI software spits out a generic caption, so you try to make it more specific by inputting more information about your company. You hit ‘enter’. Something marginally better comes out. Sensing at least an iota of improvement, and considering you are in a rush, you hit ‘copy’ and ‘post’. Suddenly, you have entered into a downward spiral of generic, common, and artificial-sounding words.

 

You may have experienced this as a reader. For example, if you are an avid LinkedIn user, you may have noticed that your feed is exploding with emojis, and it is filled with language that simply sounds “off brand” for the organization that posted it. You may also notice a lot of copy from different organizations that looks and sounds similar. What you are likely reading are classic examples of AI-generated writing and captions.



If you have touched the edges of this spiral, or are already in it, you are jeopardizing the integrity of your brand’s reputation. Yes, AI is a tool that can be helpful when it is used ethically. Yes, it can help generate ideas. Yes, it may even help you save time. However, it is not an accurate, effective, or ethical representation of your brand if you are caught in a ‘copy-and-paste’ conundrum.

 

What many fail to consider is that a brand has a unique voice that is conveyed in its communications and over social media. This 'voice' is what brand owners entrust to copywriters and communicators. This voice is what ‘humanizes’ the brand, makes it relevant and often sets the brand apart. If copywriters abdicate their creative roles over to AI, the connection that an audience feels toward a brand, through its voice, can become lost.

 

PR practitioners accept that the practice of communications and PR is built on trust. Trust is built through delivering accurate, relevant information to targeted publics, and it can be easily tarnished through a lack of transparency, including passing AI off as your organization’s authentic voice.



 

Undeniably, AI can be a fantastic addition to a writer’s toolbox, if it is used properly. Similar to how plagiarism is noticeable in school work, it is noticeable on social media, in newsletters, in media releases and on websites. The reality is that copying and pasting is plagiarism, and it is obvious to any who wish to see.


Alternatively, picture this: It’s Monday morning and you feel overwhelmed looking at your content calendar. You feel tempted to use AI to generate your copy, but you know that your organization’s own voice is much more interesting, and detectable, to many of the organization’s followers. You have your AI software open; however, instead of having it write for you, you prompt it to generate a list of questions that your publics may have about the brand. The AI software spits out ideas that you never even considered! Suddenly you become inspired. You put finger to keyboard and are able to write creative, compelling, and most importantly, original content. You’ve got your ‘mo-jo’ back! The brand's authentic voice comes through. As a result, you notice an increase in engagement and your brand feels ‘human’ again. You have broken the cycle and are no longer living on the precipice of the obscure, the empty, and the artificial.


AI is the future, and AI should be appropriately used as one tool in your PR toolbox. However, there must be a balance between the human element of your brand, and the ideas that AI can provide. To maintain an ethical and effective external brand presence, it is important to take a step back and evaluate if your brand’s voice and messages are truly being reflected in your communications. Let AI amplify your brand by using it as a supporting tool to your own writing -- not as a replacement.


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