• Wag The Dog Newsletter
  • Posts
  • The Role of AI in Public Relations: Essential Insights for Crisis Communication Specialists

The Role of AI in Public Relations: Essential Insights for Crisis Communication Specialists

Uncovering AI's impact on PR and crisis communication with insights from Stephen Waddington's latest briefing.

In partnership with

Dear reader,

Greetings from beautiful Baku!

Over the past two years, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in corporate communications and public relations has sparked intense debate and experimentation.

So I read Stephen Waddington's recent management briefing paper "Use of AI in Corporate Communications and Public Relations: The Story So Far" and explored the key learnings and insights that are particularly important for crisis communications professionals like us.

Enjoy the read and keep safe!

Table of Contents

The role of AI in public relations: key findings and insights for crisis communication professionals1 .

Understanding the current impact of AI

Limited acceptance and high expectations

Despite the huge interest in AI, especially after the introduction of tools like OpenAI's ChatGPT, actual adoption in public relations is surprisingly low. According to a survey by Cision and PRWeek2 , only 32% of PR professionals use AI frequently, while 27% are just beginning to experiment.

This cautious approach appears to be due to concerns about the reliability and accuracy of AI results.

Challenges and opportunities

The possibilities of AI in public relations are promising, but are not yet sufficiently utilised. While the technology excels at tasks such as pattern recognition, content creation and administrative functions, it struggles to understand basic concepts and cultural nuances.

In crisis communications, where nuance and context are critical, AI can play a supporting rather than central role. It can increase efficiency in data analysis and initial drafts of content, but it cannot replace human judgement and creativity.

Key insights for crisis communication

Governance and ethical considerations

The use of AI in public relations is still evolving. Ethical considerations, particularly in relation to transparency, data security and intellectual property, are crucial.

The European Union's AI Act and similar regulatory frameworks aim to address these issues by introducing a risk-based classification system and enforcing standards for high-risk applications.

As crisis communication specialists, we need to stay abreast of these regulations to ensure compliant and ethical use of AI in our strategies.

Hallucination and misinformation

A major problem with AI is "hallucination"," where AI tools generate false or misleading information. This risk is particularly acute in crisis communications, where the dissemination of accurate and timely information is critical.

The report highlights cases where AI tools have failed and emphasises the need for human oversight and review of AI-generated content.

Future capabilities and roles

As AI continues to evolve, so will the requirements for public relations professionals. Crisis communications professionals will need to master the use of AI tools for data analysis and content creation while maintaining strict ethical standards and strategic oversight.

The CIPR report "Humans Needed More Than Ever"3 emphasises the importance of combining human intelligence with AI to improve strategic planning and ethical decision-making.

Practical applications and implementation strategies

Experimental to systematic introduction

The adoption of AI in public relations is moving from experimental phases to systematic implementations. Some organisations, such as Hard Numbers4 , have set up innovation teams to explore the potential of AI in different areas such as media relations, research and evaluation.

In crisis communications, the integration of AI tools can streamline monitoring and analysis and enable teams to respond more quickly and effectively to new situations.

Customised AI solutions

Developing custom AI models tailored to the specific needs of the organisation can address concerns about data security and model accuracy.

By developing their own AI applications, organisations can better control the data used for training and ensure that the results are in line with their ethical standards and strategic objectives.

My take on this.

The integration of AI into public relations offers significant potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in crisis communications. However, it also brings challenges that require careful management and ethical oversight.

As AI technology evolves, PR professionals must remain informed and adaptable to harness the capabilities of AI while maintaining the human touch that is critical to crisis management and building trust.

For us as crisis communications specialists, it's important to see AI not as a replacement, but as a complement. By combining AI-driven insights with human expertise, we can improve our strategies and ensure more robust, ethical and effective crisis management.

References and further reading.

1  AI. (2022). Wadds Inc. | Professional advisor to agencies & comms teams. Wadds Inc. | https://wadds.co.uk/the-use-of-ai-in-corporate-communications-and-public-relations-the-story-so-far

2  PR Statistics: 2024 Global Comms Report by the Numbers | Cision. (2024). Cision. https://www.cision.com/resources/articles/pr-statistics-2024-global-comms-report-by-numbers/

3  CIPR. (2023, September 19). Humans Needed More Than Ever; New CIPR AI in PR report finds AI tools assisting with 40% of PR tasks. Humans Needed More than Ever; New CIPR AI in PR Report Finds AI Tools Assisting with 40% of PR Tasks ; CIPR. https://newsroom.cipr.co.uk/humans-needed-more-than-ever-new-cipr-ai-in-pr-report-finds-ai-tools-assisting-with-40-of-pr-tasks/

4  Hard Numbers Blog | Agency Insight. (2024). Hardnumbers.co.uk. https://www.hardnumbers.co.uk/how-we-think/ai-readiness-seven-hard-truths-for-pr

Learn AI in 5 Minutes a Day

AI Tool Report is one of the fastest-growing and most respected newsletters in the world, with over 550,000 readers from companies like OpenAI, Nvidia, Meta, Microsoft, and more.

Our research team spends hundreds of hours a week summarizing the latest news, and finding you the best opportunities to save time and earn more using AI.

What I am reading/testing/checking out:

  • Tool : The Luxury Hotel Crisis Scenario Creator, a free GPT

  • Article: Disaster Risk Resilience: Conceptual Evolution, Key Issues,

    and Opportunities.

  • Tool: Crisis Communication Role Player - In case you missed it, my very own GPT with realistic playable scenarios.

  • Merchandise: looking for a crisis comms related T-shirt, poster or mouse pad? My fun side project brings the answer 😉

How satisfied were you with the content in this edition? 📚

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

PS: I hope you've enjoyed this newsletter! Creating it each weekend is a labour of love that I provide for free. If you've found my writing valuable, the best way to support it is by sharing it with others. Please click the share links below to spread the word with your friends and colleagues; it would mean so much to me. Thank you for reading!

Parts of this newsletter were created using AI technology to draft content. In addition, all AI-generated images include a caption stating, 'This image was created using AI'. These changes were made in line with the transparency requirements of the EU AI law for AI-generated content.


or to participate.