The rapid evolution of AI-driven writing tools is undeniable, with industry giants, including ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Quora Poe all making headlines in recent months. However, for many writers (myself included) these incredible tools raise serious questions about their use. On the one hand, they can be great for helping with prompts or to quickly summarize data points or handling more rudimentary writing tasks. On the other, they aren’t always reliable, and much of the information used to generate content is out of date. Of course, one of the biggest concerns I’ve heard from other PR and marketing pros is how these tools are being used to churn out content for SEO.
You don’t need to look that far to find well-publicized Incidents of AI-authored articles backfiring. For example, even respected publications like CNET have been exposed for using AI to ‘game the system’ leading to an appropriate criticism of things like unclear attribution and outright plagiarism or dissemination of misleading or incorrect details. But is AI solely to blame, or do we as writers and professionals have some role in how it is used?
For my part, I believe that AI-driven writing tools can be useful, as long as they are used responsibly. With that in mind here are a few suggestions or guidelines to consider when implementing AI into your process.
If you are using AI as a key part of your content creation, your stakeholders—whether they’re team leaders, clients, or the general audience—should be made aware. We can argue about the ethics of AI, but I think we can agree that it’s at least good practice to let your audience know when AI, and not human creativity, is behind significant portions of the content. Even more so if the content will be public facing. However, if your use of AI is limited to asking for topic suggestions or checking for grammatical accuracy, you may not need to offer such a disclosure. The goal is to assess AI’s input transparently and react accordingly.
Do Your Own Research
Despite advanced capabilities, AI systems can occasionally miss the mark, providing outdated or even blatantly incorrect information. Look no further than the “ChatGPT Lawyer” Steven A. Schwartz, who created a legal brief for a case in Federal District Court that was filled with fake judicial opinions and legal citations, all generated by AI. Perhaps what makes this most alarming is that many AI programs deliver data and content with seeming certainty, regardless of its accuracy. Just ask ChatGPT to write a press release and watch as it creates non-existent contacts or new messaging out of whole cloth. At a minimum it’s a good reminder that some AI datasets could be lagging in current relevancy so you should always verify AI-sourced data and supplement it with rigorous personal research.
Utilize AI for Creative Assistance and Structural Guidance
Despite the drawbacks noted above, AI can, in fact, have a tangible, positive role in writing and developing content. For example:
- Confronted with unfamiliar subject matter? Use AI to generate a foundational template or background reference to get you started (keeping in mind that you will need to verify the provided research).
- Struggling with content ideas? Use AI to propose relevant questions or provide prompts to help with a brainstorm. Such input can help avoid writer’s block and lay the groundwork for a new narrative.
- Want a specific emotional tone? Feed your text to AI and ask for a rewrite fitting your desired mood. That’s just one example, but the options are practically limitless. Of course, as noted earlier, always consider your audience and remember to be transparent when AI plays a significant role.
Whether we like it or not, it seems that AI, in one form or another, is here to stay. And while it may be brimming with potential, the responsibility of ensuring authentic, accurate content remains squarely on our shoulders as creators. Much like Word Processors changed the writing landscape decades ago with things like spell correction, copy paste and searchable text, AI should be a tool in our quiver to help with content creation and writing, but we should be careful not to trust it too much. At least not yet.
But those are just my thoughts, what do you think? Should AI have a role in writing for PR and Marketing? Why or why not? Are you already using AI? How do you keep your content real and authentic? Let’s chat.