Cowling’s Corner: Navigating the AI Revolution in PR – The Surge of Deepfakes

AI is revolutionizing how we create and digest content, but as the saying goes, with great power comes even greater responsibility. I know I’m echoing the sentiments of many in the public relations sector as we enter an era where the boundary between artificial and authentic content is rapidly blurring.

At the heart of the PR discipline lies trust—a relationship between a “public” and those wishing to convey a message. Yet, with the rapid growth of deepfakes and a new breed of AI-generated content, there’s an impending threat to the truth and trust that public relations values above all. The implications for communicators are profound: how does one maintain the sanctity of truth when technology can convincingly distort reality?

The Rise of AI in Public Relations

The integration of AI in PR is accelerating, transforming various activities ranging from data analysis to content creation. However, this rapid adoption comes loaded with ethical and legal considerations, especially regarding AI-generated content, which can mislead audiences with fabricated imagery and messaging.

Deepfakes are not only a litmus test for technological advancement but also for our societal values, and they pose a real and present threat. Legal frameworks and political policy struggle to keep pace with the rapid evolution of AI, leaving gray areas that malicious actors exploit, thus undermining public trust.

As a response, PR professionals must become adept in technologies that both create and detect deepfake content.

  • Understanding AI capabilities and limitations is key in discerning real from fake.
  • Implementing robust verification processes ensures content truth.
  • Investing in AI literacy will empower PR professionals to advocate for ethical AI use.

It might be an ambitious vision for the PR industry’s future with AI, but AI for good must be our industry mandate, with a clear nod towards transparency as “non-negotiable” in the age of AI.  With the rapid growth of disinformation out there, we play an essential role in shaping narratives that respect and drive truth, trust and authenticity. By focusing on education, applying rigorous authentication standards, and advocating for transparent and ethical AI use, we can navigate the choppy waters of the digital age. It may not be enough, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. After all, balancing innovation with integrity can maintain the trust we work so hard to build—and protect the cornerstone of all our connections.