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ChatGPT made history as the fastest-growing online platform; and, as of this writing, it has just 0.03% paid visitor traffic.

It has left B2B marketers and PR professionals scratching their heads and questioning just what the AI development means for their future business, sales, and marketing strategies.

The AI debate has set the scene for polarizing discussions in B2B communications. At the beginning of 2023, online polls asking how communications pros intended to use ChatGPT received divided results. Many said they would let the generative AI tool write press releases or provide customer service responses, but others were keen to avoid the tool completely!

So, how should B2B communicators dip their toes into the AI waters before fully embracing it?

B2B communications pros have three aspects of ChatGPT to consider: the tasks it excels in, skills it lacks, and arising legal and copyright matters.

1. Don't try to beat ChatGPT at its own game

The media is all over ChatGPT. As B2B PR and marketing professionals, however, our attention should be placed on human-generated copy and on how marketing speak has grown into what already sounds like computer-generated discourse.

The issue isn't that machines write like humans; it's that humans are beginning to write like machines.

We've all read press releases and articles that spew out words that sound compelling but say nothing. "I see the words, but what do they mean?" is a phrase often used in my company.

Many writers, bloggers, and content creators are producing copy with no interest in the subject of the copy. A machine can do that—and do it well!

From the WSJ's first Buzzwords Generator to ChatGPT, AI has advanced leaps and bounds... but the fundamental nature of its capabilities hasn't truly changed: ChatGPT is, ultimately, a good wordsmith.

That should serve as a wakeup call for PR and marketing professionals: It's time to stop writing in marketing lingo and start using words to convey unique ideas and thoughts.

2. Embrace the human touch

PR and marketing agencies must be more than just wordsmiths. High-quality writing is fueled by intention: We are trying to deliver subliminal corporate messaging in our press releases that gets across more than just a product launch.

Coherence isn't enough. Communication is more complex and precise.

B2B professionals bring unique skills, perspectives, and relationships that cannot be replaced by AI. ChatGPT can assist with many tasks, but there are three essential components of effective PR and marketing—creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence—that it lacks.

We humans are born to think outside the box, to come up with new, original ideas. Thinking outside the box is impossible for ChatGPT. It is the box, it creates the box, it is limited by the box.

Such limitations highlight the complementary nature of the relationship between AI and human B2B professionals. AI can perform certain tasks faster and more efficiently, but the human brain brings a unique skillset that is critical to effective marketing and PR practices.

Critical thinking is fundamental to understanding cause vs. correlation, realizing where bias is and removing it, and distinguishing between a primary source and someone's personal opinion.

The distinction between the truth and their truth gets muddier by the day, but the human brain can figure it out!

Selling new and original developments and solutions requires targeting copy at different audiences with different needs. Often, a single piece of PR content needs to support many precisely targeted audiences—e.g., an editor, a buyer, and a C-level ratifier. Try getting ChatGPT to finesse that!

AI chatbots can't "read into a situation." Our human emotional intellect makes us able to understand and handle an interaction or debate that needs more emotional communication methods.

But emotional intelligence isn't all it lacks.

3. Keep a legal eye on AI

Now that people and machines are creating millions of new webpages daily, will using machine-generated content enable your organization to stand out from the rest, or will it instead cause copyright troubles?

Google's position on AI-produced content is clear: Companies that use AI-generated content to manipulate ranking in search results violate its spam policies. So, where should B2B PR and marketers stand?

Clearly, trust is ChatGPT's biggest weakness. Unlike with Google, you don't know the source of the information; you therefore can't judge based on the type of site or the experience of the author. Google's system of basing quality on the number of citations in an article isn't in place. Further research is therefore needed to verify accuracy, and that takes time; and so, people will still return to trusted sources and expertise.

The US Copyright Office recently launched an initiative to examine the copyright law and policy issues raised by AI, including the scope of copyright in works generated using AI tools and the use of copyrighted materials in AI training. The Copyright Office says the initiative was launched "in direct response to the recent striking advances in generative AI technologies and their rapidly growing use by individuals and businesses." (Note that a judge has now upheld the Office's finding that AI-created content is not copyrightable.)

ChatGPT and similar software use existing text, images, and code to create "new" work. The technology must get its ideas from somewhere—that is, trawling the Web to "train" and "learn" from existing content. OpenAI and similar alternatives have already been subject to many lawsuits: Some argue that AI tools are illegally using other people's work to build their platforms.

The PR Council has also weighed in on the issue.

For now, communications pros must apply caution to any external-facing use of output from ChatGPT.

* * *

B2B communicators can extract a plethora of helpful qualities from ChatGPT and advanced chatbots, from automating mundane tasks to collecting real-time data insights. And those qualities will only improve over time. Therefore, as ChatGPT continues to develop, B2B marketers and PR professionals should learn to use AI as an assisting tool.

But to ensure their content and strategies outperform their competitors', communications experts must harness their own critical and creative thinking capabilities, alongside emotional intelligence.

In the end, it's all in the human touch!

More Resources on AI in PR and Communications

B2B Marketing and AI for Streamlined and Strategic Communications: Peter Prodromou on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Why PR (And Marketing) Pros Need to Embrace Imperfect AI Writing Technology Now

ChatGPT Is Everywhere. Here's How to Keep Your Job.

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The AI Conundrum: Should B2B Communicators Embrace ChatGPT?

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image of Judith Ingleton-Beer

Judith Ingleton-Beer is the CEO and owner of IBA International, a PR and content marketing agency that delivers low-cost, high-impact B2B public relations, digital marketing, and social media.

LinkedIn: Judith Ingleton-Beer