The Great Reckoning

Something weird is going on.

At big companies with huge marketing and PR budgets, very few people are working in a coordinated fashion to figure out how to integrate AI tools into their PR work.

I recently talked to two PR leaders at Fortune 500 companies, and they aren’t working on this yet.

One of them said, “I think people on the team are using it, but no one is admitting it.”

On one hand, I kind of understand. Many IT leaders have put the brakes on AI until they figure out how to keep proprietary data secure.

But on the other hand, I think PR pros should be more proactive and seize opportunities to lead out and innovate. We’re not talking about feeding your customers’ bank account numbers into ChatGPT, or even your big secret announcement coming up. We’re simply talking about first drafts of everyday blog posts, newsletters, or routine news releases about events you do every year.

Here’s an analogy to explain why I think it’s so important to get your team practicing with these new tools:

When I was growing up my dad said I needed to learn to drive on a standard transmission (stick shift) first, so that I’d understand how cars worked even when an automatic transmission shifted gears for me.

He was wrong. Knowing how to drive a stick hasn’t affected my ability to drive automatics, which are now ubiquitous.

In one way, using ChatGPT now is like learning to drive with a stick shift. It complicates a new experience and when you don’t get it right, you’re lurching forward with screeching sounds. And knowing complex prompting schema will become irrelevant in about a year, when PR software tools with generative AI proliferate – they’ll basically have all the prompting built in.

But here’s where it’s to your advantage to dive into ChatGPT now, even if it’s on your home computer or your phone because it’s blocked at work.

Imagine a world where the only cars are stick shifts. And most people get told by their IT folks to wait for automatics. The people who jump in and start learning to drive 6-12 months early are going to be WAY better drivers than everyone else. And their bosses and clients are going to turn to THEM for advice on how their companies should navigate this new world full of “cars.”

Position yourself to be a valuable “AI point person” for the inevitable widespread adoption of these tools.

Someday, probably in about 12 months, someone is going to redefine how you do your job because of the availability of AI tools. It will be a much better experience if that person is you 😊.

BTW, if your company is one of the outliers and is moving forward with a coordinated effort to figure out how to integrate AI into PR work, I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. I’m proud to admit when I use ChatGPT for writing, but for whatever reason I didn’t use it on this one. For one thing, it doesn’t know what’s happening as far as PR adoption of AI RIGHT NOW. And the analogy I use kind of developed as it spilled onto the page. Now that I’m finished, I’m thinking of ways I could have asked ChatGPT for help – I’ll apply those to future newsletters.

This article was originally published on July 19, 2023

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