Perhaps you’re skeptical of the hype around artificial intelligence, but you keep hearing people talk about ChatGPT and related services so you figure you need to get smarter about what’s out there.
Or maybe you have bought into the hype but aren’t sure how to start leveraging these tools effectively for your own agency.
The future of AI for agencies is bright indeed, but you don’t need to wait for these services to fully mature before you can get real value out of them. Let’s look at some real-world uses for AI that PR agencies can take advantage of today.
Automated Transcription and Note-taking
One of the most mature AI-related functions available to agencies is the ability to automate transcription. A wide range of services exist to transcribe both recordings and even live conversations in real-time.
These transcripts can make PR agencies much more efficient when it comes to generating content for clients. For example, how many times have you struggled to get the information you need from a client expert to create a contributed article on their behalf? Now you can just have a call and use the automatic transcription to help get you started – which allows you to focus on talking with the expert rather than taking notes or having to listen back to a recording later.
These services can also help you in brainstorming sessions or other times when you don’t have a notetaker or want to remain dialed-in to the conversation without the distraction of pen and paper.
Simplified Video Editing
More and more agencies are adding video to the content mix for their clients, but most PR firms don’t have sophisticated video editing capabilities in-house. That means that anything you want to do takes longer and costs more.
AI can help reduce the obstacles by using a service like Descript that automatically transcribes raw video and then allows you to edit it simply by revising the transcript itself – no need to learn professional video editing software.
For many agency use cases, these simply edited videos can be a great tool. In addition to reducing the need for costly outsourced help, it also accelerates the turnaround time to allow more effective use in timely situations like crisis communications or taking advantage of the current news cycle.
It can be frustrating staring at a blank screen trying to figure out how to get started on a blog post, article, or press release.
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT can help out by taking some information from you about the goal of the content and the perspective it should take and then returning a suggested outline.
While full articles can tend to be a bit generic and rough around the edges, outlines are a great way to get you started – or to help ensure that you don’t miss out on a valuable point you might have otherwise overlooked.
Whether you are creating content or looking for campaign ideas, AI can help by throwing out its own suggestions.
A lot of them probably won’t hit the mark, but that’s not much different than a typical brainstorming session that you might have with your own team. The key is that the more ideas you have, the more it can help fuel the discovery of the right one.
The trick with this – as with most AI tools – is to give it enough information to get on the right track. Many people try to ask a quick question without much detail and expect stellar results. When it comes to getting ideas, you will get better responses if you provide more information upfront.
While ChatGPT and similar services have a mixed record when it comes to creating content from scratch, these large language models excel at editing.
That means that you can provide it with a draft of an article, press release, or blog post and ask for feedback – just like you could with a human editor.
This is perhaps one of the most powerful uses of these tools because it can be tasked with providing an edited version or simply providing general suggestions. While it can be tempting to use the former as a shortcut, I have found that the more narrative feedback (similar to what a coworker or client might provide) can be a real benefit and is usually pretty accurate.
In this way, you can go beyond the red squiggly lines that we all see in our word processor of choice that flags spelling mistakes and grammatical errors to something that helps to improve the actual substance.
Just as large language AI models can be good at editing, they are really good at summarizing content.
Looking for a summary paragraph or two about an article that you can use in an email? Try asking ChatGPT to produce it for you.
I don’t know about you, but I never loved writing summaries of content for tests back in school to prove my reading comprehension – and I don’t like it any more today. If technology can do it for me, all the better.
As the text limits increase for these services, the summaries will be able to do even more in terms of writing summaries of long-form content. It won’t eliminate the need for PR pros to do lots of reading, but it may help to reduce the load at least a bit.
Coming up with different ways to say the same thing to create a series of tweets promoting content, an event, or video can be a challenge.
We all fall into ruts in the way that we speak and the words that we use. Rather than allowing this to bore our followers, we can ask the AI to offer suggestions. All we need to do is provide the underlying content summary or even a few examples.
This approach can help us to provide our clients with greater variety without requiring a lot of extra time on our part.
Google Ads Variations
With many PR agencies getting involved in some amount of paid media (as part of a PESO Model approach to communications for our clients), it often means that we need to think through different variations of Google Ad copy to see which works best.
Enter ChatGPT. In my tests, I have found it to be pretty good at taking some basic information about what I want to promote and returning a useful set of alternatives for me to consider.
This helps to avoid tunnel vision and potentially expand the appeal of your ads. Since it is technology that determines which ads get shown, why not take advantage of technology to help shape them?
PR agencies and their clients understand that earned, owned, and shared media have a meaningful impact on search performance.
So when we create content we need to be thinking about how to use keywords to maximum effect. Until recently, that typically meant investing in a separate SEO research tool. While that still has value, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use ChatGPT or other services to suggest other keywords that you might consider.
It is important to realize that – at least as of this writing – ChatGPT and the others don’t have access to actual keyword data, so the connections it makes will be less data-driven than the SEO research services. But they can help look at the logical connections made between different terms in existing content that the SEO tools don’t do as well.
Have a new prospect and want to learn more about who they might compete with before you start talking with them? Or perhaps you are working on building out your own prospect list once you have nailed down your agency’s focus.
You can use Google as you always have to try to uncover similar businesses or organizations, but you can also ask ChatGPT.
It won’t likely be the same list that you would come up with and there will almost certainly be some duds in there, but in my experience it has almost always surfaced names that were worth further exploration.
Up to this point, we have focused on text-based AI solutions since that’s where a lot of PR agencies spend a lot of time and energy.
But images matter, too, and tools like Midjourney or Stable Diffusion can help to produce images that you can use in blog posts, social media updates, or reports. It takes a bit of learning to get the best results from these tools, but once you get comfortable with it you can often produce images that you can’t get on traditional stock image sites.
Now is the time to begin to find ways to integrate AI into your PR agency’s workflow. Whether it is a more mature solution like automated transcription or something more experimental, there is real value to be found for your clients and your business.
Chip Griffin is the Founder of the Small Agency Growth Alliance.