There’s been a lot of buzz in the news lately about the growing influence of ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and other generative AI platforms. It may feel brand new, but AI has been a part of our daily lives for years – if you’ve asked Siri or Google Assistant for a recipe or directions, have interacted with a website chatbot, or have created a music playlist with Alexa, you’ve used what’s known as narrow AI. While useful, it’s still very limited in its abilities. The latest generative AI technology, on the other hand, seems almost limitless in comparison, enabling its users to quickly and easily generate seemingly unique content. Fun fact: the title of this blog was generated by ChatGPT.
The Basics: What is Generative AI?
First, let’s define generative AI: according to leading hardware and software producer NVIDIA’s website, generative AI models use neural networks to identify patterns and structures within existing data to generate new and original content. This includes not only text but also images.
HubSpot reports that 27% of marketers have seen an an increase in implementing AI or machine learning into companies’ marketing toolkits over the past decade, with the top three uses being content personalization, predictive analytics for customer insights, and targeting decisions.
What Does this Mean for the Industry?
The explosive growth of generative AI raises the question of whether it will ultimately help or hurt PR and marketing professionals (or something in between). Let’s take a step back and look at the promises and perils of AI in the industry.
A recent Axios article notes that the marketing industry has long relied on AI for analytics and targeting, but is only beginning to consider the role of generative AI in the creative side of advertising and marketing. A recent study by ad agency GroupM found that AI-enabled marketing today accounts for 45% of all advertising globally and predicts that by 2032, AI will influence 90% of all ad revenue – over $1.3 trillion.
Social media platforms are also tapping into the power of generative AI: Snapchat, for instance, recently began testing sponsored links in its new “My AI Chatbot,” which can deliver ads based on a user’s conversation with it.
Weighing the Positives and Negatives
It’s important to remember that while AI can be an extremely useful tool for streamlining the creative process, it comes with caveats: because ChatGPT draws its information from online sources, it can be incorrect, outdated and biased. The ChatGPT opening screen notes that it has “limited knowledge of world and events after 2021.” As mentioned before, it’s also important to note that the output depends on the quality of the input.
Here’s an example of the results from a simple prompt. Within about five seconds, ChatGPT delivered a pitch that hit on major selling points and delivered in an upbeat, accessible style. This might initially send chills down the spines of PR writers, but an objective look at the output can provide some clarity. Accuracy, tone, substance, and authenticity are key. Although this pitch brings up some valid points (in an overly perky way), it lacks the depth, nuance, and emotional connection necessary to make a meaningful impact on the reader.
AI can generate a well-written, grammatically correct essay in seconds, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll seem genuine or even be correct. According to a senior-level Siemens engineer who works with AI, there’s a catch: if it doesn’t have an answer, it’ll create one, and when it’s wrong, it’s very confidently wrong.
Despite the drawbacks, AI has the potential to save marketing and PR professionals a lot of time and money, allowing them to do their jobs more effectively. AI can be used to analyze customer data, predict customer behavior, monitor media, generate keywords and phrases to boost search engine optimization (SEO), and more.
According to HubSpot’s 2023 State of AI report, 90% of marketers say AI and automation help them spend less time on manual tasks and more time on the creative, enjoyable aspects of their roles. The top four uses of generative AI in marketing are content creation (48%), analyzing/reporting on data (45%), learning how to do things (45%), and conducting research (32%).
The list of AI platforms available to help marketing professionals is growing rapidly. While we can not recommend the use of any specific tools, they are popular with many marketers. A few of these include Jasper, a smart writing assistant that includes an SEO optimization function and image generation; Personalize, which uses an algorithm to identify the top three interests of each e-mail contact and tracks metrics in real-time; INK, an AI co-writer and SEO assistant that helps generate content; and Anyword, a data-driven copywriting tool that can create ad copy, product descriptions, blog posts, and more.
These tools can be extremely helpful, but it’s important to keep in mind that the output requires human monitoring: having easy access to data is one thing, but knowing what to do with it is entirely another. The same goes for written content: although ChatGPT generated a good title for this blog, it didn’t do it on the first try, but rather the fourth.
Final Verdict: Humanity Wins
There is one way that the growth of AI could threaten the marketing and PR industry: with its growing popularity and recent buzz surrounding the steadily developing abilities of generative AI, budget-conscious business leaders may initially view it as a potential replacement for writers and other creatives.
Despite recent fears of AI replacing human jobs, however, the human element remains alive and well. Generative AI may be able to create images and text, but ultimately the task of evaluating the quality and engagement potential of AI-generated products will continue to rely on creatives. This presents new opportunities – because the output is only as good as the input that generates it, creative professionals will need to develop additional skill sets. AI can automate routine tasks, but it hasn’t yet reached the point where it can replace the creativity and strategic thinking of humans. After all, a central component of the industry relies on building and maintaining relationships – something that can’t be faked.