Like May flowers after April showers, generative AI-powered apps are popping up everywhere. Artificial intelligence’s impact on business can’t be contested. Zain Kahn, aka The AI Guy, has a lot to say about the space and is tracking all the cool developments. Definitely check him out.
Although generative AI is not technically new (incarnations of related technologies have been around for a while and we’ve worked with companies using AI for years), it only recently caught fire for us civilians when OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November last year. And caught fire it has. There’s a huge spike in AI in communications and media as well as interest in VC circles.
Being a long-serving PR professional means I have seen a lot of technology come and go. At the ‘get off my lawn’ stage of life, it is rare when you try something new and it blows you away. A lot of digital technology offers only incremental improvements. The arrival of ChatGPT and its related engines feel different. We are experiencing a real moment of technological advancement. And boy do we like it.
As with most game-changing technologies, there is a lot of discussion about it. Is it good, is it bad, is it legal or ethical—will it kill us…Segways anyone? Okay that last was a bit hyperbolic, or may not, not, or not. What is not hyperbolic is that everyone is talking about it. And many AI companies are contending with how to market themselves and deal with the fascination of artificial intelligence’s impact on business.
How to approach AI in communications and media strategy
While inovators move fast and build stuff, established companies are white knuckling about how to contend with this new technology. Our industry’s own PR Council has penned suggestions on how to use generative AI; spoilers, be cautious and don’t feed it proprietary info just yet.
But to this PR guy, the rise of generative AI is more about the excitement around seeing an entirely new industry evolve—and by many accounts the generative AI market is getting crowded already. As the innovators race to develop new apps and services built atop various large language models, they will face the exact same challenges every kind of innovation wave has brought before them:
AI and Generative AI innovators—whether an individual going it alone or a team within another company—can benefit tremendously from the communications lessons others have learned from in the past. Specifically:
Articulate a clear purpose and value proposition; do not boil the ocean—be specific
Leverage multiple channels to attract customers/users and, and feed those channels often to raise awareness for what you have built and how it is helping people
Be as transparent as possible about data use and privacy; follow regulation closely and do not be afraid to lend your voice to the discussion; at a minimum this should instigate crisis communication planning
Understand what’s driving conversations in the media and then find your voice related to those hot button, national-scale issues, like robots taking jobs, deepfakes, IP (Intellectual Property) rights, etc.—and be prepared to defend it
Stay in lock step with what’s happening at a macro-level and how the AI news cycle evolves—likely from future-casting to reporting real-world impact, from bull to bear, hype to plateau, negative perceptions and so on—and adjust communications accordingly to build and protect your reputation; don’t build your tech or PR strategy in a vacuum
Approach external communications with credibility in mind (to get attention and build a reputation, you’ll need to be able to prove it out and provide valuable, unique resources in your marketing)
Be ready to pivot and expect your comms program to pivot with you; not even the machines know where all this is headed.
It is a fascinating time to be in this bubble of innovation, no doubt. As communicators, my colleagues and industry peers expect to be impacted by new applications as much as we expect demand for our services to rise.
This article was initially published by our sister company SHIFT Communications on SHIFT Insights
——— Alan Dunton is Managing Director at SHIFT Communications, sister company of NATIONAL Public Relations