The Growing Ethical Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Public Relations

We have no choice. The growing and pervasive use of artificial intelligence (AI) and Chat GPT is now part of our world. How we deal with it and navigate it will be the secret to our long-term success as public relations professionals. As an organization, National PRSA has created a new, trending section on AI under professional development at You will currently find 14 different presentations, white papers and articles discussing AI, including the ethical impact its use has on our profession. Please check it out here!

You’ll learn about great tips, techniques and best practices. Topics include, “How PR Pros Can Counter AI Misinformation”, “Storytelling in the World of AI” “New to Using AI Tools? Start Here” and much more! As your Ethics Chair, I focused on a panel presentation topic, “AI in Communications: Covering Bias, Ethics and Other Challenges.” Our National PRSA Chair, Michelle Egan APR, PRSA Fellow, moderated the conversation recently with three impressive panelists that included Jared Carneson, SVP and Senior Partner at FleishmanHillard, Noemi Lujan Perez, Chief Strategist and President of Eco Diversity, a consulting firm focused on DEI best practices and Bharat Krish, advisor, investor and former president of a variety of companies including TIME Magazine, HBO, Digital and NBC Universal. Each one is playing a vital role in dealing with emerging AI technology and the role it plays in Communications. They offered some great insights that I will summarize here:

We need to understand how content is created and distributed. It requires that we maintain a level of skepticism before accepting all that we read and see. There are inherent biases based on human nature that are typically built into AI content, so it’s important to note “who” created it and what data was input because if you feed it racism and bias, AI will amplify it because it can’t determine if something is false. Carneson says, “What you put into the system is what comes out.” According to Krish, AI makes assumptions and unless a panel of unbiased, diverse and ethically focused people review it, stereotypes, racism and unethical content will flourish. Krish gave an example of how even less than five years ago, AI facial recognition programming could not identify black or brown faces. He worked to change that and to ensure that AI offers more diverse and inclusive facial recognition technology.
The barriers to AI right now include issues of trust and discerning what is real or fake. Concerns about plagiarism are running rampant. There are currently no laws in place or even federal guidelines as to how to certify that something is true or real. Questions are being asked at the highest levels regarding if AI should be limited, monitored and controlled to protect the public. We must follow what is happening globally, at our major university think tanks, and within our own government in terms of developing policy and laws related to the use of AI.
PRSA is currently working with our internal board of ethics to create a plan regarding the ethical approach to AI. It’s all about increasing awareness and educating our members at every level. There are currently no individual protections, copyrights or guidelines in place with AI, so we must be very careful and diligent.
AI can never replace human creativity, diversity and insights. We must always look for and strive for truth and accuracy in content.
As PR Pros, we must strive to be thought leaders and stay ahead of the curve of understanding because we must evolve with it.

To learn more, watch the webinar in its entirety here.

Please note that September is National PRSA Ethics Awareness Month. To celebrate and to increase awareness of the significance of ethics in our profession, I am hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 21 from noon to 1 p.m. We will be featuring three of our local PRSA Legends, who also are very successful agency owners– Tom Gable, APR, PRSA Fellow, recently retired from Nuffer, Smith, Tucker and who also founded The Gable Agency, Beth Walsh, co-founder of ClearPoint Agency and Indra Gardiner, CEO of 60Above. Gardiner will focus specifically on how AI has affected her agency and clients.

To register for this FREE event for PRSA and PRSSA members, sign up via Eventbrite.

Let’s keep the conversation going! Please contact me with any questions you may have or if you would like to share your own insights into this topic and our PRSA Code of Ethics.

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