Code of Ethics: ChatGPT’s Moral Implications in PR, Part Two

Stan O'Neill
April 18, 2023

Plagiarism takes a back seat

Contrary to popular belief, plagiarism is becoming less concerning with a new plagiarism checker added to ChatGPT. The tool typically scores below an acceptable plagiarism level in our measurements, though human writing scores lower. But factual inaccuracies or repetitive writing can be just as damaging to a client’s reputation, especially if PR pros trust language models blindly without fact-checking or revising their output. Amid the hype, PR pros must remember that ChatGPT is not infallible.  

From an ethical perspective, the tool’s true danger is its ability to present convincing yet erroneous information as fact. Therefore, PR pros must fact-check and revise ChatGPT’s content before hitting the publish button. This can be time-consuming, especially when ChatGPT often fails to provide functional source links if pressed for verification.  

I experienced this recently when numerous ChatGPT-generated blogs required extensive editing and fact-checking to make them presentable to a client – because none of the links or stats could be found on the Internet. Maybe my Google skills were lacking that day. Or maybe the language model simply made things up.

Straight from the droid’s mouth

Though it lacks true self-awareness, ChatGPT openly admits its ethical dilemmas, listing bias and fairness, privacy and security, accountability, human autonomy and environmental impact as key concerns. This second point is important, especially for PR pros whose high-profile clients trust them with confidential information.  

Dark Reading recently published an article detailing the privacy concerns of language models. The outlet found that over four percent of employees have fed sensitive internal information into the tool, jeopardizing corporate confidentiality. There have also been recent national efforts to moderate language models due to data privacy concerns, with Italy passing a temporary ban on ChatGPT last month.  

PR will always need emotional resonance

PR pros must be careful what they publish from and what they feed into these language models. Ultimately, we’re in the communications business. Our trade lives and dies on credible communications, confidentiality and empathetic thought leadership. PR pros must understand when they can use content that seems ChatGPT-generated and consider the given assignment’s ethical implications. While it may be useful for an internal policy document, ChatGPT shouldn’t be relied on to write contributed content that must strike an emotional chord with potential customers.

PR pros must strive for emotional resonance and empathy, especially amid crises. There’s no ChatGPT add-on for crafting a story that makes your audience feel understood in the face of a pressing issue. As a result, Engage PR is monitoring the tool’s ethical implications as our clients increasingly inquire about its utility. With that said, ChatGPT has increased our internal efficiency, but one thing is certain. When using the tool for content, PR pros must balance their newfound efficiency with emotional resonance to cut through the robotic cacophony of thousands of other ChatGPT-generated pieces.


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