The Impact of ChatGPT on PR: Our Tests & Outlook

It’s the biggest question being discussed in the PR industry right now: what are the implications of ChatGPT for PR?

Some in the industry are noticeably worried. They wonder if this new PR technology will make PR roles obsolete by perfecting the expert skills of PR professionals.

But we disagree and are leaning towards a more optimistic viewpoint. We see many benefits in using ChatGPT for PR tasks that need less of a human touch,  in turn freeing up more time for fine-tuning communications and building bigger PR strategies.

We’ve done some research and will share how we arrived at this stance. In this article we will present:

What is ChatGPT? 

ChatGPT is a free OpenAI chatbot launched in November of 2022. 

The news of ChatGPT spread like wildfire, leading to dire job predictions for many, including this TikTok video about PR managers and a story about ChatGPT getting shortlisted by recruiters for an open writing position

However, PR professionals were already aware this new PR technology was on the way. In fact, our recent survey of PR managers saw them name AI and AI tools as one of the top 3 PR trends they predicted for 2023. It wasn’t a huge surprise. There is already even a ChatGPT for PR course on Udemy.

The uses of ChatGPT for PR managers

Once you start exploring how ChatGPT works, you quickly discover how it can save PR professionals time by gathering research, delivering first-round idea generation, and producing first-draft content. 

We decided to put it to the test and asked ChatGPT to perform some basic public relations tasks so we could find its advantages and disadvantages.

ChatGPT PR test #1: Research

With ChatGPT,  you can benefit from its ability to quickly gather research. You can ask it to create a list of influencers, journalists, or competitors, tailoring the results to be more and more specific by adding details to the inquiry. 

Currently, PR pros can ask ChatGPT for media that covers your brand’s topic, relevant websites you should consider for link building, and data and insights you can apply to your PR campaign

The advantages:

  • Quickly tailored lists according to your specified needs
  • Structured data and insights that you can analyze

The disadvantages: 

  • If your search is too narrow, ChatGPT can’t return data
  • You still need to check the output manually to confirm its accuracy

Our PR Test

To get a feel for how it works, we asked ChatGPT to provide a list of journalists who write about PR. Within seconds, we received 10 names. 

We then asked ChatGPT to provide a list of journalists who write about PR software in the U.S. alongside a list of journalists who write about PR software globally. The two lists were nearly identical but presented in a different order. 

We performed a manual check to make sure the information was accurate, and unfortunately, some of the named journalists were not in fact specializing in these fields.

ChatGPT PR test #2: Idea generation 

If you’re feeling stuck and looking for creative inspiration, ChatGPT can generate a list of creative ideas for you (although it’s very limited at this point). For example, you can ask for creative press release headlines for your latest brand announcement, or a list of key talking points to include in your upcoming PR campaigns. 

The advantages:

  • Great for inspiration and new ideas

The disadvantages: 

  • Lack of pure creativity
  • Some ideas are generic and not applicable

Our PR Test

We asked ChatGPT to generate headlines for a press release about Prowly launching PR reports:

None of these would be our final choice, but it did provide a list of ideas for future press releases that we can use as a starting point.

ChatGPT PR test #3: Writing 

You can generate press releases and write pitches in seconds by providing key information like your company name, tone of voice, location, date, announcement, news angle, types of media you want to reach, keywords, quotes, and target audience.

The advantages:

  • You’ll quickly receive structured data with all the press release basics, like an introduction, concise description, spokesperson quotes, and an About Us section

The disadvantages: 

  • Fact-checking is still necessary to weed out inaccurate or outdated information
  • The press release template is so basic that it comes across as generic

Our PR Test 

We asked ChatGPT to write a press release about us. While it followed the expected press release format, fact-checking was absolutely critical. ChatGPT had mixed up the name of our CEO, our headquarters, and the functionality of our automated PR software tools. It was far from ready for distribution.

The limitations of ChatGPT for PR

Here’s what we quickly learned by testing ChatGPT for public relations tasks we’d most likely try first. Although ChatGPT is a very powerful tool with significant potential for improvement, it won’t replace PR managers anytime soon.

In its current form, the tool lacks several skills which make all the difference when it comes to public relations. Here are the top 5 we noticed right away.

1. Inquiry specificity

Although ChatGPT can answer many PR and marketing questions, it still requires a PR professional to create a well-constructed ChatGPT query and ask the right questions. Even then, the responses may need to be further researched to zero in on the exact results you’re looking for.

2. Communication nuances

PR managers are well-versed in communication nuances, but ChatGPT lacks this critical skill. In its current form, it can’t build relationships with journalists or speak authentically to target audiences. There’s a lot of emotional intelligence that ChatGPT has yet to develop, and you wouldn’t want it anywhere near your crisis communications. 

3. Generic content

ChatGPT can be used to research and draft content, but it can not be counted on to deliver a final product. Even if you try giving additional directions, the style of its writing output is generic, with most phrases taken directly from the web.  It misses that human touch, and that comes across in its voice and tone.

It’s also very difficult for AI-powered tools to integrate a brand’s unique values and principles, something that PR professionals weave into all brand communications.

4. Reputational risk

Any content produced by ChatGPT must be fact-checked and proofread before publishing, as there’s a reputational risk for companies that skip this step.

In addition, ChatGPT is geared to write efficiently, but efficiency doesn’t always deliver the spot-on communication style that is needed for specific cases.

5. Ethics

The question of whether companies should identify bot-generated content as such is currently being debated. An even bigger question is how we should treat it in terms of authorship and copyright. There are more protocols yet to come in this area.

Our current outlook on ChatGPT for PR

As PR experts who have tested the waters of ChatGPT, we have a solid opinion about how ChatGPT and AI technology will affect the PR industry in the short term. 

At this point, we see ChatGPT as another helpful tool for PR professionals to experiment with. By combining the human touch of PR pros with the data capabilities of ChatGPT, PRs can leverage this PR technology for faster turnaround times and focus more on building relationships with clients.

It will, undoubtedly, evolve over time and gain sophistication, but for now, it requires oversight from a PR professional.