By Powerscourt on 17/03/2023

ChatGPT: What is the future of PR in the age of Artificial Intelligence?

Our in-house ChatGPT experts, Georgia Way and Ollie Beckwith, give their opinion on what generative AI means for companies and communications professionals.  

What were you doing on 30 November 2022? Could this date – which marked the initial release of ChatGPT – be the date when the world of work changed forever? How will we look back at that ordinary, grey Wednesday? Shouldn’t the skies have rained HTML?

Unless you’ve been on a digital detox in the Seychelles for the past few months, you’ll already know the basics: ChatGPT is a generative text model which can – with the right inputs – churn out copy that is (whisper it) almost comparable with what communications professionals create daily. It famously passed an MBA exam at Wharton. If it can do that, it’s surely more than capable of writing press releases, and even creating more sophisticated copy like CEO statements for annual reports, no? As communications professionals, how worried should we be?

After booking our training courses in coding, we took some time to consider what ChatGPT can and can’t do. Bypassing the obvious point that communications advice consists of, well, advice – nuanced insight and engagement, not an instruction manual – we are already seeing ChatGPT’s benefits. It’s a quick route to brainstorming and information-gathering. It can be a useful drafting tool for copy where the kind of eloquence and fluency you’ve come to expect from the Powerscourt Newsletter (thank you, you’re too kind) is not the main consideration. We’re already using it for in-house briefings, and as a means to condense text quickly.

Generative AI presents a compelling argument for communications professionals to invest in high-quality digital and content skills.

ChatGPT will cause a proliferation of identikit long-form corporate copy, fuelled by companies looking to cut corners on their marketing and PR spend. Companies will need to think more creatively to stand out from the crowd of low-quality, toneless web content and op-eds which will shortly be hitting trade publications near you. This means snappier, more engaging copywriting; interactive content formats; and further marketing spend assigned to digital media and video as companies compete in a content-saturated age.

Where long-form copy is still required – including in financial reporting – generative AI provides yet another reason for senior leaders to cultivate a considered and personal voice. Veteran CEO “commentators” – Simon Wolfson springs to mind, and our client Sir Martin Sorrell – have gained the respect of the business, investor and media communities through original perspectives borne of multiple economic cycles; not from learning the AI way, compressing massed content. Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang, writing for the New Yorker, has described ChatGPT’s outputs as “a blurry JPEG of the web… It’s the digital equivalent of repeatedly making photocopies of photocopies in the old days. The image quality only gets worse.”

It is actually the absence of direct imitation that has fascinated us all into believing ChatGPT is able to derive original thought from our queries. In fact, by definition, it is impossible to create truly unique copy from generative AI – even taking into consideration the more impressive results yielded by GPT-4, the latest iteration of the technology from the research laboratory OpenAI.

A recent Guardian Masterclass on emerging tech estimated the current potential of AI at around the same level as the human brain. Undoubtedly, AI is going to affect how we work, rapidly increase the speed at which tasks can be achieved and will at some stage overtake our cognitive abilities.

However, until it can replicate human creativity – which relies on disrupting existing models, rather than replicating them – we are confident that this presents an opportunity, not a threat.

Written by humans, in defiance of our robot overlords.