How to Use AI in PR for Your Clients (Is It Even Ethical?)

Mar 27, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can sound pretty scary on the surface (I mean…is it not straight out of an apocalyptic sci-fi movie?), but it’s already cementing itself into the media landscape. AI has a whole world of uses, but PR pros need to keep an eye on writing-based AI programs like ChatGPT. These tools have the power to generate entire paragraphs of copy based on a simple query, which poses major ethical questions when it comes to pitching the media. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about AI in PR before you start using it in your agency. 

What Is AI in PR? 

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence — as a PR pro, you don’t need to know the in’s and out’s of AI technology, but you should know that AI uses computers and machine learning to generate content humans would create. AI isn’t new, exactly, but it’s more accessible than ever right now. People are using AI software for fun internet trends as often as they use it to streamline their workflow. 

Disruptive technology like this can seem scary, but don’t catastrophize! I promise the media isn’t dying and PR pros won’t be replaced by computers anytime soon. This is just a new shift in the media landscape; if you dive in and treat AI as a tool instead of running from it, you’ll learn how to use its powers for good. When you use AI in PR, you can save tons of time and money by automating processes and taking content creation shortcuts!

Related: 5 Tips for Building Stronger and Deeper Media Connections

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Panic About AI in PR 

I get it — sometimes knowing that you can use AI in PR for good isn’t enough to ward off the panic! But avoiding AI in your agency will just make it a bigger problem down the line. Keep these three reasons in mind the next time you find yourself getting nervous about the state of AI in PR.

#1: AI Can’t Generate Pitches on Its Own

You can’t just put a product and a pitch angle into a writing program like ChatGPT and send the generated pitch right to an editor. There is zero guarantee that the pitch is full of good, accurate, and relevant information! 

AI pulls information from all around the internet, so besides it potentially being incorrect, plagiarism is a serious issue here. You could unintentionally steal content from writers you’ve never even heard of. Anything and everything generated by AI in PR needs to be read and edited by an actual human before it’s remotely ready to be shared. 

Plus, AI-generated pitches are like spray-and-pray emails: generic and impersonal! Winning pitches need to be personalized to the journalist, publication, and beat, along with having tidbits of your voice and personality throughout. Editors can spot an AI pitch from a mile away, which can seriously sour your media relationships and credibility. Remember, you can’t build a deep, mutually respectful connection with a robot!  

#2: An AI Pitch Won’t Align with an Editor’s Needs 

ChatGPT may be able to write a grammatically-sound pitch, but will it align with exactly what an editor is looking for? Unless your media contact is looking for a pretty simple story, the answer is no! 

AI in PR doesn’t have the power (yet) to be accurate about minuscule trend shifts and super-specific niche topics like an actual PR pro. The research it does is often surface-level and you’re likely to get some inaccurate responses to a more advanced query. It pulls from what’s already online, so if you’re trying to stay ahead of the curve, AI really isn’t going to help you. 

As a PR pro, you go into the pitch-writing process with valuable experience, tried-and-true strategies, and past successes that AI could never replicate. Even if you copy an editor’s request directly into an AI query box and feed it all of your client’s info, the resulting pitch won’t necessarily fulfill the editor’s needs. Your pitches need to hit every aspect of a journalist’s request…but things will be missed in an AI-generated pitch. 

#3: Storytelling Nuances are Lost with AI Content 

AI-generated pitches don’t tell a story — they spit out information based on a query. Sure, they’re generic and impersonal, but they also don’t weave brand messaging and product or expert information together to paint a picture for a journalist. A talented PR pro is the one who puts the pieces together to create an enticing story that will excite and resonate with a journalist. 

Your pitches should show editors that you have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your niche and what’s relevant to their publication’s audience. What works for one outlet might not work for another, and AI just cannot grasp those nuances yet. And it doesn’t have the emotional intelligence necessary to navigate tough situations and balance your client’s end goal with your media contact’s needs. 

The better input you give AI in PR, the better output it’ll give you…but someone still needs to add that final human touch to perfect your story and get it up to your standards.  

How to Use AI Ethically as a PR Pro 

Okay, the AI in PR panic has passed, right? But there’s still the question of ethics, especially with all those plagiarism concerns. Here’s how you can use AI in PR strategically and ethically to improve your pitches. 

Put in a Query to Brainstorm Pitch Angles 

If you’re spinning your wheels over what to pitch next or can’t figure out how to turn a simple tidbit of info into a buzzworthy story, AI can help out! You can ask ChatGPT why it thinks that bit of news is important, or put in your client’s brand and product information and ask what’s cool or interesting about it. The answer it gives could be the spark you need to create a new and exciting pitch angle!

Make sure you’re just using this as a jumping-off point, though. None of the AI-generated text should be included in your final pitch. Copying AI-generated content into your pitch email gets into some murky ethical waters — they could be directly replicated from another writer’s work and you’d have no idea! You’re in the clear as long as you use AI in PR to help you do your job, not make it do your job for you. 

Related: 8 Easy PR Pitch Tips That Will Improve Your Results Today

Use AI to Break Down Tough Concepts

If you’re struggling to explain a tough concept or rephrase some technical jargon in layman’s terms, AI can seriously help you out! This is one way that I’ve been using AI in PR and my personal life

My son was having a hard time explaining the process of distillation for an essay, so I popped a short query into ChatGPT to get a basic explanation of the process. None of the AI text was used in his essay, of course, but it still helped him get a better understanding of the concept. Then, he rewrote it in his own words and in simpler terms for his essay. 

You don’t have to run from AI! PR pros won’t be replaced by computers, and you can use AI ethically to improve your pitches and make your writing process a little smoother. Remember, if the way you’re using AI in PR feels wrong, then it probably is wrong — go with your gut and let AI spark your creativity!