The good, the bad and the ugly: Exploring the impact of AI on communication and creative jobs
by: JDPR Staff (and ChatGPT)

A human writer will long be needed to breathe life into the written word.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Artificial Intelligence (AI), from its rapid expansion of accessibility to its surprising level of sophistication and almost human-like conversational style when integrated into chatbot platforms like ChatGPT and how AI will impact communication and creative jobs. Although we hear a lot about AI now, the span of AI’s cultural and technological influence is far wider than many might expect; and how professional communicators discuss, reject or embrace AI technologies may affect their success in the future.

You’ve interacted with AI for years without realizing it

AI research began in the 1950s and AI technology has become more prevalent as it has advanced. Deep Blue, the chess-playing IBM computer, beat the reigning world champion in 1997. In 2011, IBM’s Watson defeated two top Jeopardy! champions in a head-to-head quiz battle. Wider access to large amounts of data (think “the cloud”) and increased affordability of neural networks solidified AI’s place at the forefront of society starting in the mid-2010s – and AI has continued to gain sophistication and integration. Some ways you may have experienced AI technology without realizing it include ad targeting, Google searches, virtual assistants, facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, automatic translation services (think Google Translate) and even spam filters. The recent expansion of the AI discussion, however, comes from the explosion of AI content and information generation through technologies like ChatGPT.

AI: The Good

Some communication agencies have chosen to embrace AI technologies as they proudly advertise AI integration as part of their overall strategy. One New York agency uses ChatGPT to expedite the onboarding process for new clients, develop press release templates, create reports and occasionally copy edit. According to them, ChatGPT provides an opportunity for writers to “banish the blank screen.” Similarly, ChatGPT can be a resource to tighten up paragraphs or change the tone of a sentence efficiently and with ease. Even in writing this article, we employed ChatGPT to refine ideas and generate headline options.

AI: The Bad

Discussions about access, equity, accuracy and ethics have raised concerns about the impact of rapid AI expansion, including technologies like ChatGPT, on communication and creative jobs. In a 2020 article, Forbes writer Beth Noymer Levine posed important questions about the potential replacement of human communicators by machines and the feasibility of software performing corporate and marketing communications. Popular Google searches related to “AI” and “communication” include questions about job security and skills AI can’t replace. As part of the May 2023 strike, television and movie writers demanded reassurances that AI programs wouldn’t replace them for script generation.

AI: The Ugly

A writer in any creative field, including public relations, will tell you that drafting good copy is part science and strategy and part artistic expression based on the writer’s own lived experiences. Deeply understanding the reader – what motivates them, causes them anxiety and produces joy – separates human and AI-generated content. And because AI often falls flat in connecting with the reader in an authentic way, a human writer – even one who uses ChatGPT for thought-starters – will long be needed to breathe life into the written word. 

The Conclusion

Though the potential dangers of AI technology are apparent, it is important to recognize its potential benefits and strive to understand how we can integrate this smart technology for improved efficiency and creativity.

A key tenet of JDPR has always been to “exceed client expectations.” Often that means adapting and evolving with the times. While nothing can compare to human communication and ideation, we are eager to learn more about how we can utilize AI technology to improve our clients’ experiences.