FRIDAY 12 MAY 2023 10:33 AM


How should communicators be navigating the rise in AI technology? Henry Ker, editor-in-chief at Emperor, explores.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an intoxicating subject. It’s been the muse of science fiction for over a century, presented as the pinnacle and eventual downfall of human society. And it’s quickly becoming reality; a bigger and bigger part of our technological lives, whether we realise it or not.

Most recently, this is through generative AI. However, amid the excitement and hype, the question for corporate communications is: is it really a game changer? Is it a boon, passing fad, or bear-trap to be treated with the utmost caution?

The imitation game

Marketers and creators are starting to realise the potential of generative AI for generating quick and relevant content. It’s a huge technological leap from automated technology as we know it. It enables us to generate text, images, videos, books, brochures, adverts; literally anything that relies on digital technology. Processing vast resources of data, it can spot flaws in code, test visual concepts and personalise experiences. It imitates human creativity and thinking to solve problems and produce content.

And crucially, it’s not only accessible but fun to use – chatting in the office about the ‘Pope in a puffer jacket’ image that went viral, or sharing a laugh while being simultaneously creeped out by the odd obsession on social media of reimagining Harry Potter and Star Wars as Balenciaga fashion shows (google it if you dare).

However, as the technology is adopted at an accelerated rate, suspicions are rising regarding AI’s accuracy, effectiveness and ethics. Utilising AI or not, it is essential for marketers to apply a holistic approach to content creation, keeping a clear and strong strategy at the forefront of all content decisions.

It is likely that AI will soon become part of the way we work, and this is where users must be careful. As a business, relying on these tools alone to solve your content and communications issues will just automate a big mess.

Seeing red

In its early stages of adoption, generative AI has raised some significant red flags, from ethical and intellectual property concerns, to operational and environmental, and the integrity of the information coming back. It’s compiling programmatic probability and prone to error. That creates a risk for brands sourcing information this way and publishing content with their name attached.

Take Google’s chatbot, Bard. Shortly after launching, it contained a factual error in its first demo, and a sharp drop in share price followed. At this stage, generative AI still lacks the complete critical reasoning skills to fully interrogate information.

An AI tribute for the band Oasis has also hit headlines recently for sparking debate over copyright and IP concerns, while a bot-generated ‘interview’ presented as being with former F1 driver Michael Schumacher felt ethically tasteless, has been condemned by his family and may lead to legal action.

So, how can we reap the benefits of AI as a tool, whilst ensuring our content is accurate and ethical?

Start with strategy

The heart of any content solution is strategy. It is vital to consider all the nuances of your business, people and industry.

Unless you know who you are, truly understand what you do and the way to authentically communicate – your ambitions, positioning, platforms, audience – all the smart AI tools in the world won’t achieve cut through and meaningful engagement. That’s why we do content strategy. It’s considered, its foundational, it’s long term and (most importantly) it’ll mean our content cuts through. It makes all the hard work and investment worthwhile.

A smart and intuitive strategy will guide, shape and supercharge your content. Done correctly, content strategy is a long-term approach to building deep and lasting connections with your audiences. Once this foundational understanding and tactical action plan is there, that’s when you can unbox the shiny new robots like generative AI and use them to their full potential, helping your content become a cut above the rest.

Generative AI and the power of content strategy will be discussed at Emperor’s upcoming webinar ‘Beyond the hype: leveraging content strategy for better business’ on 17 May, led by a panel of in-house experts.