Companies often turn to technology during a crisis, seeking solutions. ChatGPT, a powerful language model, may appear appealing. However, questions arise about its ability to handle the intricate realm of crisis communication. 

Although ChatGPT has the potential for content generation, relying solely on it for crisis management strategies can lead to disaster.

Understanding the crisis landscape

Crisis communication goes far beyond crafting eloquent statements. It demands an intimate understanding of the situation, its context, and the human element involved. This is where PR professionals excel. 

Human chat agents have empathy and emotional intelligence, unlike ChatGPT. They can understand the situation, gauge emotions, and craft messages that connect with people on an emotional level. In contrast, ChatGPT tends to provide generic apologies during a product recall.

Meanwhile, a skilled PR professional understands the fear and frustration consumers might feel. They can craft messages that acknowledge the concern, take responsibility, and outline clear steps to rectify the situation, fostering empathy and rebuilding trust. Furthermore, PR professionals bring a deep understanding of context. 

They consider the company’s history, brand voice, audience demographics, and industry landscape to ensure every message is specific, relevant, and culturally sensitive. ChatGPT, trained on vast amounts of data, might miss these crucial nuances, potentially causing more harm than good.

Strategic action

A crisis isn’t a one-off event to be addressed solely through reactive messaging. It requires a comprehensive plan encompassing various aspects. PR professionals excel at this by anticipating potential crises. They identify potential risks and prepare communication strategies well in advance, minimizing the panic and scrambling when a crisis does occur. 

ChatGPT lacks proactive foresight and is designed for reactive responses. PR professionals excel in developing tailored crisis strategies, considering the specific situation, target audience, and desired outcome. They create customized plans, while ChatGPT’s generic approach falls short. 

Building and maintaining relationships with journalists, influencers, and stakeholders is crucial for effective crisis communication. PR professionals actively cultivate these relationships, ensuring open communication and a unified message. ChatGPT, lacking the ability to build trust and rapport, is limited in this crucial aspect.

Accountability and ethics

In the heat of a crisis, accurate information and ethical communication are paramount. PR professionals understand the weight of each word and meticulously fact-check information, avoiding the potentially damaging factual errors and biases that can plague ChatGPT’s output. 

PR professionals navigate ethical considerations, ensuring communication aligns with company values. They understand the consequences of messages and avoid exacerbating situations. ChatGPT lacks ethical judgment and can harm a company’s reputation. 

Rebuilding trust is crucial in a crisis, which PR professionals achieve through transparency and honesty. ChatGPT’s responses lack the genuineness and authenticity needed for effective crisis communication.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.