Generative AI is killing reputations

As the public relations industry embraces AI technology, fears are growing that generative platforms are replacing human-generated media releases and story pitches. But these are “embarrassing” and threaten agency retainers and the reputation of the industry itself. Which is rather ironic, when you think about the role of PR.

14 March 2024 | 3 min read | Digital
Portrait photo of Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

Unpopular, I know, but please can industry experts and journos stop banging the drum for AI-generated content platforms. They’re killing reputations, killing creativity, and are a real threat to agency bottom lines.

Yes, they are good for generating basic ideas and even for giving the writer a steer in the right direction for a piece of content they’re looking to create. But then using that content in the public domain with little or no human editing can have dire consequences.

Generative AI is in its infancy and the quality and tone of content it creates shows there is clearly some way to go before it can ever be considered on a par with human-generated content.

33% of business leaders say that AI-generated content will NEVER replace human-generated content.

Source: Clearly PR survey of 266 business leaders (March 2024).

Take a look at the example below that the BBC’s Tech Editor, Zoe Kleinman shared a few weeks ago on X/Twitter. This is seemingly typical and not too dissimilar to the results generated on a bio done of me by one of the PR-agency specific platforms I recently trialled.

The language and tone used by these platforms is frankly embarrassing.

So, why are some PRs and agency owners thinking it’s OK to communicate with the media on behalf of their clients in a way that is both farcical and runs the risk of damaging their reputation and the clients they represent?

And, why, especially if it means they fail to generate the media coverage that their clients are paying them to secure, do they continue pushing ahead with using press releases and pitches that are generated by AI when it’s clearly going to cost them in the form of cancelled retainers?

Guy Clapperton, a long-time connection of mine on LinkedIn, media trainer, former journalist and newspaper reviewer for the BBC, responded to my post on LinkedIn about this subject. He said:

It’s great if you’re faced with a blank screen, know you really ought to be blogging or something so you ask ChatGPT or whatever for some subjects to get your readers engaged. Then you take it from there.

But it’s no more creative than your word processor’s spell check. By all means it can help sharpen you up a bit but that’s about it.

I have no doubt that the quality of the content produced by generative AI platforms will improve. That’s just how tech works.

But until then, please ensure that the people creating media comms or thought leadership content can actually write, and educate them on how to use AI platforms to support, not lead, their communications activity.

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