The Pitfalls of Relying on AI for PR: A Cautionary Tale

This past year, I sat on a national roundtable discussing using artificial intelligence in communications practice with fellow public relations professionals through the Public Relations Society of America. The discussion focused on the pros and cons of PR professionals embracing this exciting new technology. While I personally believe that the communications professionals who master the use of AI will be more successful in the long run, I do fully recognize that there are dire and potentially catastrophic consequences for organizations relying solely on AI for their communication needs.  

As a public relations professional, I believe that the emergence of AI is a lot like the early days of social media. Companies and individuals who mastered social media early on came out much further ahead in the long run. The truth is, like social media, AI is not going anywhere.

With that being said, AI is not the silver bullet for effective public relations, and its pitfalls are far too dangerous to be ignored. If your PR plan for 2024 is to rely solely on AI, I strongly suggest you think again. Here are the following ways that AI falls disastrously short when it comes to PR.

The Lack of Emotional Intelligence

One of the fundamental flaws in relying on AI for PR is its inherent inability to understand human emotions. PR is not just about disseminating information; it’s about connecting with audiences emotionally. The best PR pros know how to read a room, and AI lacks the capacity to comprehend the nuances of human emotion, making it ill-equipped to navigate delicate situations that require empathy, understanding, and a human touch. Press releases, crisis management, and brand reputation are all areas where emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role, something AI sorely lacks. The real danger here is that once a blog post, press release, or social media statement is published, it lives online forever.

The Absence of Reason and Context:

AI operates on algorithms and patterns devoid of genuine reasoning abilities. It cannot grasp the subtleties of context and interpret the intricacies of human interactions. Effective PR involves:

  • Making judgment calls.
  • Adapting strategies based on real-time feedback.
  • Understanding the broader context of industry trends and public sentiment.

Relying solely on AI strips away the critical thinking necessary for strategic decision-making in the PR realm.

The Risk of Misinterpretation and Miscommunication:

AI, despite its advancements, remains susceptible to misinterpreting data and context. It may not discern sarcasm, humor, or the underlying tone in communications. This inherent limitation can lead to disastrous consequences in PR, where a misinterpreted message can quickly escalate into a full-blown crisis. Human intuition and discernment are essential in navigating the complex landscape of public perception – aspects that AI simply cannot replicate.

The Danger of Bias and Unintended Consequences:

AI systems are trained on historical data, which may contain biases that inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions. In the PR world, where reputation is everything, the unintended consequences of biased AI could tarnish a brand’s image irreparably. Human oversight and ethical considerations are vital in ensuring PR strategies do not inadvertently contribute to a negative narrative or exacerbate existing biases.

The Importance of Human Touch:

While AI can undoubtedly assist in data analysis and automation of routine tasks, it cannot replace human PR professionals’ creativity, intuition, and personal touch. Building relationships, understanding cultural nuances, and responding to dynamic situations require a level of adaptability and finesse that AI simply cannot replicate.

In conclusion, while AI has its merits and can be valuable in the PR toolkit, relying solely on it poses significant and irrevocable risks. The lack of emotional intelligence and reasoning abilities and the potential for biased outcomes make it a precarious choice for the delicate nature of public relations. When used responsibly and with significant human intervention, AI can be a powerful, time-saving, thought-provoking tool and one that everyone should take the time to learn how to master.

At South Shore PR, we firmly believe that the human touch, with its capacity for empathy, nuanced understanding, and strategic thinking, remains irreplaceable in navigating the intricacies of the ever-evolving PR landscape.

Full Disclosure: 

This article was written using AI software for creation and editing. That said, I went back through the article AI created and edited it heavily, using the initial article more as a framework. I share this fact to show how AI should be used. Had any statistical data been shared, I would’ve sought out alternate sources to verify and cite them in this article. The point is AI should never be fully trusted when speaking publicly for your brand.