Although artificial intelligence has been utilised in the background of many industries for some time, the emergence of Chat GPT and other tools has changed the PR landscape. Using insights from the TravMedia Meets webinar on ‘AI and Online Travel PR’, we’re exploring how AI is changing Travel PR and the opportunities that AI can bring to the sector.
The growth of AI powered tools will be exponential. Microsoft 365 Copilot is due to be released soon, bringing AI capabilities to everyday apps - mirroring similar plug-ins for Google Sheets and Docs already available. Original tools like Open AI’s Chat GPT are expanding into all-new areas, this week announcing the release of a code interpreter tool which can analyse data, create charts and perform maths. In May, Google released Med-PaLM 2, designed to answer medical questions and is being tested in hospitals. A new version of Microsoft’s Bing uses Chat GPT data so you can get AI answers directly from the search engine, and Meta’s Voicebox and Google’s Magi are also in the pipeline. As we write this, Meta has just announced the launch of LLaMA 2.
As well as AI chat bots, there are a number of more specific sector tools aimed at PR professionals. Monitoring tools such as Brandwatch analyse billions of online conversations for mentions and market activity so you can make informed brand decisions. Fireflies.ai can transcribe and summarise your online meetings. Propel encompasses many different aspects of the PR workflow - notably their PitchPrefer tool uses AI to show which team members have the most success with which journalists, journalist engagement with pitches, and their pitching preferences (e.g what day and time is best to pitch and which topics are received the best).
AI is more accessible than ever. Using these tools can save us time - although they cannot complete tasks to a human-standard, they help you reach your end-goal quicker, leaving more time for creativity and personalisation. Further than that, AI can help automate analysis and measurement, allowing professionals to see more detailed information about consumer sentiment, and consequently refine their focus and stay ahead of competitors.
Along with the immense benefits of AI in the workplace comes a new set of challenges. First and foremost is fact checking. Chat GPT is only up-to-date with information from 2021, meaning a lack of recent, relevant answers in many cases. Chat GPT and many other AI models such as Google’s Bard are also ‘reliably unreliable’ - coming with disclaimers that their information may be inaccurate about ‘people, places or facts’, and a Google advertisement for Bard even featuring the tool offering up incorrect information. Also, there are big questions and uncertainties around the legality and copyright implications of using AI text, which make its use in the workplace risky.
Another danger with the use of AI in public relations is its overuse. Yes there are hundreds of pitch and press release ideas at your fingertips, but they are not always going to be high-quality or relevant. Firing out too many new tone-deaf pitches will leave journalists tired. Instead, PR professionals should use AI chatbots to brainstorm different creative ideas and find that killer pitch that will cut-through the AI-generated noise filling up journalists’ inboxes.
It’s important to remember that the ‘relations’ aspect of public relations - the personal relationships between clients, PRs and the media - can never be replaced by technology.
Content will also always require a human touch. Look now further than the recent controversy around BuzzFeed’s AI generated travel guides, which have multiple instances of repeated phrasing, including referring to a ‘hidden gem’ in almost every one. Personalisation, storytelling, persuasion, emotion and originality are all essential to content creation and cannot be replaced by AI.
Rather than having one dedicated AI professional or sector within companies, everyone should know how to use AI tools - after all, even the Apple CEO Tim Cook uses Chat GPT. It is up to individuals to spend time testing AI in order to learn how to use it most effectively. For example, giving AI better prompts with detail and specificity will result in better answers.
OpenAI recently released a set of guidelines called GPT best practices. which includes six strategies to get the best results. Additionally prompt tools are being released, such as the beta-version of structuredprompt.com which amusingly uses AI to advise you on how to write better AI prompts.
AI is redefining the travel industry landscape, affecting virtually every aspect of PR practice. Ultimately, public relations is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry that has always required its professionals to keep up with new trends, technology, and public opinion. The PR industry is starting to adopt AI practices in the mainstream, and PR professionals will need to use AI tools if they want to stay relevant and not get left behind.
If harnessed correctly, AI has the potential to allow professionals to do parts of their role more efficiently and optimally in areas like measurement and evaluation, but human expertise will not be replaced. Dystopian predictions about AI taking over can be laid to rest; one thing that is undisputed is that the human touch will always be needed in public relations.
Want to read more about AI in the PR sector? Read our blog on the 5 Best AI Tools To Help PR Professionals and Content Creators