PR and Artificial Intelligence: What Next?

Effective PR statements must consider the contextual aspect in the wider story and relevance to current news cycles. Spokespeople need to maintain skills in managing media rhetoric and conveying empathy through words, even in a world increasingly reliant on AI solutions.

Effective communication often relies on empathy, intuition, and emotional intelligence—qualities that are challenging for AI to replicate. Skills upgrading for professionals in fields like public relations should focus on developing these attributes. In this quest, understanding the collective intelligence within an organisation is crucial. Collaboration is one of those principles, i.e. the continuous journey of sharing ideas, participatory research, and understanding foundational values of a company. All this is a must for PR professionals in order to grasp the rational aspects of intuitivity.

In creating stories, understanding how top executives view situations and their strategies is essential. Other areas to comprehend are leadership styles, strategic decision-making, communication, change management, and organisational culture, all of which influence an organisation's image and reputation in the media.

AI is a valuable tool, but it cannot replace the essence of human interaction and problem-solving. Human creativity and emotional intelligence are irreplaceable in discovering solutions, creating connections, and living in an interactive society.

by Tyron Devotta

Today, with ChatGPT and other similar applications playing a prominent role in creativity, AI support is probably an important place to start a discussion when it comes to communications or public relations. Where are we heading with all of this and do we really believe these AI programmes can actually replace human ingenuity? Will it replace the need for strategic writing and professionalism? 

When we compare the human mind with artificial intelligence, it's crucial to understand that the human mind has evolved over millennia, and AI is simply a reflection of that development. Therefore, when confronting AI, we must acknowledge that the creative capacity of the human mind not only surpasses AI but also possesses a wealth of experience in human-to-human communication.

This leads us to the next important aspect, that is, an AI entities do not communicate with each other; they communicate with humans. Consequently, AI needs to capture various facets of the human mind and behaviours in order to interact with us effectively.

Emotions and AI

For example, consider this question I put to ChatGPT recently and the answer I received:

Question: ChatGPT can you tell me do you have empathy?

Answer: No, I do not have empathy or feelings. I am a machine learning model designed to process and generate text based on patterns and information present in the data I was trained on. I do not possess emotions, consciousness, or the ability to empathize with others. My responses are generated based on text input and the knowledge I have been trained on up to my last update in September 2021.

So, by its own admission, AI is emotionless, and emotion is a basic human trait that govern our communications.

Human Processes

Indeed, one of the advantages of AI applications like ChatGPT, is its ability to rapidly process and search through vast amounts of information. AI can sift through millions of pieces of data in a matter of seconds and generate coherent documents or responses based on that information. This capability can be highly valuable for tasks like data analysis, information retrieval, and content generation, where human limitations in processing speed and memory capacity can be overcome by AI. However, it's important to note that AI lacks the creativity, intuition, and the contextual understanding humans possess, and there are many tasks where the human mind remains superior.  

In human-to-human communication, the focus often lies in conveying a message effectively and eliciting specific responses or actions from individuals. While AI excels at processing vast amounts of information quickly, it may not always capture the nuanced, context-specific aspects of human communication, which can be influenced by social, emotional, and situational factors. Effective human communication often relies on empathy, understanding, and the ability to adapt to the needs and perceptions of others, which can be quite challenging for AI to replicate. The close confines of human understanding and situational awareness play a critical role in successful communication between people.

Upgrading PR Skills

Therefore, it is important to ensure a certain level of skills training for Corporate commercial and public relations professionals in the light of AI entering this sphere. Skills training often goes beyond mere information retrieval or academic knowledge. It involves understanding a specific environment, being able to adapt to it, and effectively engage in human-to-human contact. This involves elements such as empathy, intuition, and emotional intelligence, all of which play significant roles in perceiving and responding to the nuances of social and interpersonal situations.

Intuition, in particular, is a complex aspect of human cognition that stems from our ability to process and synthesise various types of information, often at a subconscious level. It's based on both experience and emotions, and it allows us to make quick, contextually appropriate decisions. That said, one must know that intuition is not pure ‘gut’ but has a rational element to it!

The PR Journey

The question now is, how does one develop this discipline in PR writing? It comes through having a thorough understanding of one’s clients and their businesses.  It is about figuring out the nuances and subtleties of communicating on a day-to-day basis, which means one has to be updated, not merely on the mechanics of the company but also its dynamics. 

Indeed, comprehending the collective intelligence within a company is a crucial aspect of understanding group behaviour and achieving successful outcomes. Mass collaboration within an organisation often relies on four distinct principles:

Journey: This principle acknowledges that collaboration is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. It involves the continuous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and efforts among members of the organisation throughout their collective journey.

Participatory Research: Participatory research emphasises that all members of the organisation should actively take part in the collaborative process.

Intuitiveness: Intuitiveness implies that collaboration should be natural and instinctive, fostering an environment where individuals can readily exchange ideas and information without unnecessary barriers or bureaucracy.

Foundations: Foundations in this context refer to understanding the underlying values, norms, and structures that support and sustain collaboration within the organisation.

Corporate Dynamics

Indeed, the concept of organisational dynamics encompasses not only the interactions among employees but also how managers and leaders guide and influence the company. Managers, especially those in top leadership positions like CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) or COOs (Chief Operating Officers), play a critical role in shaping the organisation's culture, strategy, and decision-making processes.

Understanding how these leaders view situations and their strategies for managing the company are crucial and important in creating PR stories. Public Relations professionals need to understand:

Leadership Styles: Examining the leadership styles of top executives and how they impact the organisation. Different leaders may adopt different approaches, such as transformational, transactional, or servant leadership, which can influence employee behaviour and organisational culture.

Strategic Decision-Making: Analysing how CEOs and COOs make strategic decisions, set goals, and allocate resources is vital. Understanding their strategic vision is essential for aligning the organisation's activities with its long and short term objectives.

Communication and Messaging: Pre-empting and creating statements for top executives in scenarios like press releases is of high importance. Effective communication from the leadership helps manage public perception, maintain transparency, and addresses critical issues promptly.

Change Management: Leaders often drive organisational change initiatives. Understanding how they approach change, address resistance, and foster a culture of adaptability can greatly influence the success of change efforts.

Organisational Culture: Leaders have a significant impact on shaping the company's culture. Their values, behaviours, and decisions set the tone for how employees interact, collaborate, and innovate within the organisation.

The Meeting Point

An important factor to be understood here is that PR statements made to the media have to be factual and work within belief-systems. The media works within a perception paradigm. The point where PR and media meet is in the contextual aspect of any story. How much of it is relevant to the news of the day? How much is it in the context of current news cycles?

Spokespeople for the corporate sector need to understand this vital aspect when dealing with the media. Unfortunately, spokespeople are gradually losing their skills in managing media rhetoric. And in today’s context, where AI purports to have all the solutions, human lethargy is setting in. Social media actually started this apathy with emojis, where we thought that they could express our feelings more accurately than words. The rot continues to set in where human emotions like empathy are no longer being attempted in words but in expressions siloed into emojis.

PR these days, faces a great challenge, particularly because of the lack of human skills and the overwhelming growth of AI.  Most tend to think that all solutions to human interactions and issues can be generated through Artificial Intelligence in cyberspace. We are living in a physical world and humans have a great part to play in discovering new things, creating solutions for our day-to-day problems and living an interactive life with other humans. If we lose this, we can lose the very essence of our being. 

Let’s get Real with AI

It is true that the rise of AI, including models like ChatGPT, has created a definite impact on various aspects of communication, content generation, and creativity. But it is essential to understand the role of AI in the broader context of human endeavours:

Augmentation, Not Replacement: AI, including ChatGPT, is more of a tool for augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them. While AI can assist in content generation and creative tasks, it lacks true creativity, emotions, and contextual understanding that humans possess. It can be a valuable resource to enhance productivity and provide data-driven insights.

Enhanced Efficiency: AI can streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and analyze vast datasets, making it a valuable resource for professionals, including writers and content creators. This can free up human professionals to focus on higher-level creative and strategic thinking.

Collaboration: The ideal scenario often involves collaboration between humans and AI. AI can assist with data gathering, analysis, and generating initial drafts, while humans can provide the creativity, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking needed to refine and adapt content to specific contexts and audiences.

Human Ingenuity: AI is a tool created by humans, and it relies on the data and algorithms developed by humans. It doesn't replace human ingenuity but can enhance it. Human creativity, strategic writing, and professionalism will remain essential for tasks that require nuance, originality, and a deep understanding of human culture and emotions.

Ethical Considerations: The use of AI in content creation and communication also raises ethical considerations, such as the potential for biases in AI-generated content and issues related to transparency and accountability. Humans play a critical role in ensuring that AI is used ethically and responsibly.

In conclusion, while AI has transformed various aspects of communication and content creation, it's unlikely to replace human ingenuity, especially in areas that require creativity, strategic thinking, and a deep understanding of human emotions and context. The future likely involves a collaborative approach, where AI complements human skills and expertise.