Have you started using AI in business communications yet?
The AI text-generator chatbot choices abound: ChatGPT, Google Bard, Microsoft Bing, and so many others. Are these chatbots the greatest invention since the dawn of time? Or the beginning of the end of human existence? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Either way, AI is here to stay and the need for business communications never stops.
So I think it’s important for communicators to acknowledge what AI can do and use it accordingly: embrace it for what it’s good at and recognize its shortcomings. AI is perfect for some tasks, and really bad at others.
What AI Can’t Do
Yes, it can be kind of stunning to see an AI-generated article. However, it can only work with what it’s given. Meaning: it can’t spit out relevant copy if you don’t give it exactly the right input information.
For example, I recently tried to use AI to look for the current issues in executive comms—what are the biggest issues, what are people talking about, etc. Is that what I got? No. It kept creating job ads in exec comms, e.g. the capabilities an exec comms person should have. I don’t know what I input incorrectly, but I never figured it out and soon, I gave up.
AI can easily get the result wrong because it lacks human cultural context. Recently, I needed to write a slew of fun social media posts about national holidays for execs to either repost or abridge for their own social media use. That’s a relatively easy goal to hit—there’s a holiday for just about everything now, from National Popcorn Day to National Dog Day and more. However, not every holiday we observe is a celebration—some are commemorative, and some are solemn. AI didn’t have that context and kept spitting out lighthearted “Happy Memorial Day” posts which were entirely inappropriate since that is a holiday honoring soldiers who’ve given their lives for our country. Context matters, and AI often lacks it.
No AI tool can write with an authentic voice. How could it? What AI tools give back to you is an amalgam of the voices it finds across big data, which sterilizes the copy. If you’re up for endless corporate-speak, then I would guess it’s perfect. If you want an authentic voice with personality, then you need the thoughts and words of a real, authentic person.
AI can’t make up your personal story. Sorry, but you just have to write that yourself. No one can tell your story but you.
What AI Can Do
For all those shortcomings, AI tools can be really useful. We just have to learn how.
Stop Writer’s Block
Ah, writer’s block. The bane of any communications pro’s existence. Sometimes, the words just don’t materialize. This is one spot where AI tools can definitely come to the rescue. When I was trying to come up with that slew of social media posts, it did generate a large amount of baseline content I could start from. In some cases, it sparked some critical thinking because those results were clearly wrong. It set me on a course of proving it wrong with alternative copy.
Because AI tools can generate baseline content to help you set a direction, it can save you a lot of time—even if you end up going in a completely opposite direction of the AI-generated copy. No more lost time stuck in limbo, trying to come up with something out of nowhere.
What’s the role of AI in comms?
In short, AI is a tool that we can use, but not rely on. It can’t recognize context or relevance, it can’t be authentic, and it can’t do critical thinking. Will it become better at some of this in the future? I don’t know.
For now, I’m sticking with what Pascal said:
Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed.
We might sometimes feel feeble against the magnitude of AI, but we are separated by our ability to think. We recognize cultural context, we are authentic, and only we can tell our original stories. And that is true communications excellence.