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By: Rachel Syfargo


When it comes to tech buzz words for 2024, I can say that generative AI is the it girl of the year so far.  From headlining tech shows as AI is incorporated into many devices to the chatbots we talk to messaging apps of brands and companies, AI has been ubiquitous – along with a cacophony of views of how this technology is shaping the future.

For writers, artists and content creators, AI has been looming on the scene for quite a few years now, with AI writing software and tools like ChatGPT churning out paragraphs of text within seconds of receiving a prompt. On the one hand, there are fears that AI could replace writers due to their efficiency, yet those who are enthusiastic about AI talk about how it serves as an aid for beginners, such as small businesses who may need some help to do writing for their marketing or website, or free up the time of writers from basic writing tasks so they can focus on more complex materials.

So is AI a writer’s bestie or is it, like the villain of a sci-fi flick, destined to replace us flesh and blood writers? Is it friend or foe? I would say like any fast-evolving technology, there’s no cut and dried answer but a little bit of both, depending on where and how you use it.

Understanding how AI works can help us better determine how AI can best help us writers. Let’s kick things off with a briefer on how machine-generated writing tools create content – the usual process is we go to a tool and submit a prompt on what we would like the tool to write about. These can be as simple as headlines, a short caption, to edit your content for grammar errors or be as complex as to draft a short story or even a screenplay, with capabilities depending on the software we use.

Using a bot, the software is usually able to generate responses within minutes by crawling the internet for information based on what other people have answered to a similar prompt, compiling this information into a reply. With generative AI able to comb through a vast amount of data and organizing these into a coherent piece in a relative quick amount of time, here are some ways AI can assist us PR writers:

Kickstarting Research

Writers can sometimes be called to craft articles on a topic or issue that they may not know a lot about and using AI to generate some initial data can be helpful in this regard. AI summaries on a topic can give a beginner a good overview in terms of definitions and perspectives on an issue and provide ideas for possible angles and points of discussion. You can then pick these up and delve deeper on the angle that interests you.

Generating or Filtering Ideas

Even as someone who writes by profession and has a deep love for the craft, I have not been immune to that deeply crippling condition that almost all writers have faced at some point in their lives. That feeling of dread when one is faced by a blank page… when one just wants to procrastinate and do anything but write. Yup, I am talking about writer’s block.

When you are stuck staring at an empty screen, AI can be a good way to generate some ideas. Need a good opening sentence, angle or headline for a press release? Type in a prompt, see what comes up and jump off from there!

Another way to use gen AI in brainstorming is also to check on the originality of your own work. Want to check if a turn of phrase have been heavily used? Type in a related prompt for your topic and see if what you wrote comes up!

Creating bite-sized descriptions or summaries

Say you need to come up with a simple and easy to understand description of a report you just wrote. AI tools can help condense your longer text into a more straightforward explanation, which you can use for emails and pitches or a description for a website.  But don’t forget to read through it and fact check for accuracy.

Grammar and format checks

Some new wrinkles to AI software can help with more than just the text but also the presentation of a press release, such as adding images, formatting and double-checking for typos and grammar error. You can treat the AI like an extra eye to help polish your draft.

Notice that the examples I gave often put the role of gen AI writing at the start point of the writing process, and that’s on purpose – because I believe that while gen AI is a great tool for writers, the result, that final piece, should still always have a human touch.

Why? We have to go back to why we write as PR professionals. Our goal goes beyond merely informing as we seek to educate, inspire, to move people and hopefully, move them towards action. To do this, we as writers need to connect and engage our readers – and what we flesh and blood writers bring to the table is our (for the lack of a better term) humanness – our lived experiences and our unique voice.

Writing is more than putting together mere words on page; what elevates a piece of text to a narrative that can make one laugh, cry and move them to take action? It is human intent –  in the words of Edgar Allan Poe in his “Philosophy of Composition”, all short stories must achieve a unity of effect – so the writer needs to write with a clear objective in mind and make choices based on that – and human creativity. A psychologist friend of mine once defined creativity as the ability to put two disparate things together and make it look like they always belonged. That’s a form of magic… and it takes focus, time and intent to make that magic happen.

While Gen AI is a great tool for writers, its also upon us writers to remember who we are at our core … we are storytellers and through our craft, we create meaning. Like any writing instructor would tell you – the best way to get better at writing is to write. In the age of AI, let’s flex our writing muscles and bring ourselves to the page. And through this, we can stand confident that is why the human touch on a page can never be replaced by AI.