Artificial Intelligence Featured Technology

Facing the Digital Age of AI in PR and Avoiding its Potential Evils

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In public relations (PR), the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the digital age presents both opportunities and challenges. As we approach the 2024 presidential election, it becomes imperative for PR professionals to navigate the complexities of AI and effectively control their messages.

For PR experts, credibility becomes the lifeblood of their profession. With AI-powered technologies poised to reshape the media landscape, maintaining a spotless reputation and an image of trustworthiness has never been more critical. It’s essential to anticipate the risks that accompany AI and proactively plan for contingencies. While some institutions have attempted to ban specific AI tools, it’s crucial to understand and leverage them responsibly. 

Staying well-versed in the latest technological advancements is vital, as clients may inquire about AI implementation and its potential benefits. By evaluating the risks, balancing the use of AI with human judgment, and preparing robust strategies, PR professionals can navigate the complexities of the digital age while preserving their brands’ credibility and effectiveness.

The Blurring Line of Reality

The gap between reality and fiction has become increasingly blurred with the rise of influencers, people documenting only the best part of their lives, and catfishing. The culprit is a widespread reliance on social media as a primary source of information. We tend to form our opinions based on what we see on these platforms, often disregarding content that does not align with our preconceived notions of reality.

However, the emergence of AI-generated images and videos adds a new layer of complexity. These visual representations have reached a level of sophistication, virtually indistinguishable from genuine content. As a result, the notion of “seeing is believing” is being put to the test. 

Our framework for determining what is real and what is not is no longer a reliable guide, as AI blurs the boundaries between fact and fabrication. Tidio recently published an article that puts you to the test if you can determine if something is human or AI, and according to their survey, “87 percent of respondents mistook an AI-generated image for a real photo of a person.”

This requires a heightened sense of vigilance and commitment to thorough fact-checking for publicists. The responsibility to separate genuine content from AI-generated deepfakes lies squarely on their shoulders. Identifying and addressing false or misleading information becomes a core competency in maintaining trust and credibility in the digital realm.

Ensuring Credibility and Building Trust

One of the key strategies for ensuring credibility is the rigorous vetting of sources. PR professionals must go beyond surface-level scrutiny and deep into the origins and reliability of information by utilizing multiple sources and cross-referencing information to verify the accuracy and integrity of the content they disseminate. This diligent approach strengthens their credibility and guards against inadvertently spreading misinformation.

Publicists must also maintain a clean, professional image. In an era where credibility can be easily tarnished by a background of falsehoods or promoting false information, it’s essential to project an image of trustworthiness and integrity, which requires a proactive stance in aligning one’s actions and communications with ethical standards. By upholding transparency, accountability, and a commitment to truth, PR professionals can cultivate and preserve trust with their audiences.

Preparing for potential crises is another vital aspect of credibility management, as developing a comprehensive crisis management plan allows PR professionals to stay ahead of the news cycle and respond promptly and effectively to any challenges that may arise. By anticipating potential risks and devising strategies to address them, they can mitigate damage to their reputation and maintain trust even in adversity.

AI Is an Empowering Tool

AI offers immense potential for streamlining and automating various PR tasks, increasing efficiency and productivity. From data analysis and trend monitoring to content creation and distribution, AI-powered tools can handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing PR professionals to focus on strategic thinking, creativity, and relationship-building. By harnessing AI to analyze vast amounts of data, publicists can gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions, resulting in more effective and targeted PR campaigns.

Furthermore, AI can significantly enhance research capabilities by rapidly sifting through large volumes of information. PR professionals can use AI-powered tools to gather and analyze data, identify patterns, and monitor public sentiment to aid in their understanding of target audiences, tailoring messages, and identifying emerging trends or potential crises. By leveraging AI as a research tool, publicists can make informed decisions and stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

However, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of AI and understand its role as a tool rather than a replacement for human expertise. While AI can process data and perform specific tasks efficiently, it lacks the human element of creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence that are integral to PR. Human professionals can interpret nuanced information, understand cultural contexts, and make judgment calls in complex situations. AI should be seen as a complement to human capabilities, augmenting PR strategies, rather than replacing them.

Ethical considerations are also essential when utilizing AI in PR. As AI technology advances, it becomes increasingly challenging to discern between authentic and AI-generated content. PR professionals must ensure that their work is original and ethically represents their brand. Transparency and authenticity should be prioritized, and any use of AI-generated content should be disclosed to maintain trust with stakeholders. Additionally, publicists must be aware of the potential biases and limitations of AI algorithms and actively work to mitigate them.

Understanding the Risks and Planning for Contingencies

One of the primary risks of AI lies in its ability to generate deepfake content — artificially manipulated images, videos, or audio that convincingly depict people saying or doing things they never did. Deepfakes have the potential to spread misinformation, damage reputations, and manipulate public opinion, so PR professionals must be aware of the increasing sophistication of deepfake technology and its potential impact on their clients or organizations. By staying informed about emerging AI techniques and tools used to detect deepfakes, publicists can effectively identify and counteract this risk.

A comprehensive contingency plan is essential for effectively addressing AI-related risks. This plan should encompass protocols for identifying and responding to deep fake content, crisis management strategies to address any negative repercussions, and guidelines for maintaining transparency and trust. 

Publicists should also establish clear lines of accountability to determine the responsible parties in case of AI-related mishaps. Assessing the potential consequences of AI implementation and having predetermined courses of action can help mitigate the impact of any unforeseen challenges or failures.

Preparing Clients for AI Implementation

One crucial aspect of preparing clients for AI implementation is developing a comprehensive plan that outlines the potential risks and rewards of integrating AI into PR strategies. This plan should include an assessment of the client’s specific needs and goals, and an evaluation of how AI can align with those objectives. By establishing clear objectives and expectations from the outset, clients can understand the potential outcomes and make informed choices about incorporating AI into their PR initiatives.

Communication is vital during the preparation phase. PR professionals must effectively convey the capabilities and limitations of AI to their clients. It’s vital to educate clients about the role of AI as a tool, highlighting its potential to enhance productivity, streamline processes, and provide valuable insights. 

Simultaneously, it’s essential to underscore the need for human expertise in critical areas such as strategic thinking, creativity, and decision-making. By fostering a clear understanding of AI’s role and promoting a collaborative approach, clients can better understand how to leverage AI effectively within their PR campaigns.

Moreover, it’s extremely important to discuss the accountability and responsibility of AI technology. Clients must understand the importance of establishing clear lines of accountability for AI-driven initiatives. Determining who is responsible for overseeing and monitoring AI systems and addressing any issues that may arise is essential for maintaining transparency and ensuring ethical practices.

The risks associated with AI, such as deepfakes and unintended biases require PR professionals to proactively address potential challenges. AI has the potential to revolutionize PR practices, but it must be approached with care, responsibility, and a commitment to ethical and transparent communication. By embracing AI as a tool, understanding the risks and benefits, and staying true to the values of PR, professionals can thrive in the digital age and drive impactful outcomes for their clients and organizations.

About the author


Thomas Mustac

Thomas is Otter PR's medical and health industry PR specialist. He previously held positions at the Dr. Oz Show and New York Medical College. He has his Master's Degree from Iona College and received an Advanced Certification in Nonprofit Public Relations. He has a diverse background in healthcare, pharmaceutical, telehealth, tech, cosmetics, sports, and interior design public relations.