MONDAY 4 MAR 2024 11:00 AM


Lulu Trask, head of marketing at creative communications agency Wardour, explores how the upcoming EU AI Act could be the prompt we need to remind ourselves who the true creatives are.

The AI tech market is booming, and whatever the communications format, there’s an AI solution – generative or otherwise. From using ChatGPT for your written content to MarketMuse for your SEO; from Otter for your transcriptions to Midjourney for imagery. And even OpenAI’s impressive Sora, launched in February 2024 – the world’s first text-to-video solution.

The opportunities are endless – or concerning, depending on your point of view…

Just as quickly as new AI technology is evolving, we are seeing increasingly dangerous applications and risks. Just last month, AI was used to create explicit deepfakes of celebrity Taylor Swift, which amassed more than 27 million views in less than 24 hours. And in a year where more than 40 countries are holding national elections, making it the largest year for global democracy, AI outputs have the potential to play a transformative role – for better or worse, fake news or not…

So, what’s the impact on corporate communications? Considerable. The AI market as a whole is expected to grow by 36.8% from 2024 to 2030 and approximately 97 million people are expected to work in AI by 2025. This affects every role in every company - and will quite possibly impact every person on the planet. If you think this is an exaggeration, remember that the introduction of computers was not so long ago. Or that there was a time we would not have dreamt that mobile phones would be owned by 5.6 billion people. A quick Google search of ‘the role of AI in corporate communications’ already shows 308 million results, including more than 40,000 news stories. AI is undoubtedly vital in, and directs impacts the field of, corporate communications, particularly when building and maintaining the brand and identity of companies worldwide.

The seemingly uncontrollable advancement of the technology, and its widespread application, has brought increasing demand for regulation, particularly in the corporate sector – demand that is now beginning to be addressed.

The EU AI Act

On January 22, 2024, details of the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act (EU AI Act) were leaked. This is the world’s first comprehensive legal framework for the regulation of AI technology and was detailed in an 892-page document. In short, the Act, which is due to become law later this year, establishes legalities around the sale and use of AI in the EU (but similarly to GDPR, those affected go far beyond the EU, so it’s safest to presume the Act applies to you regardless of your global location). Just one extract from the act is its ‘use’ element, and the requirement that any synthetic content (any content that’s been generated using AI) must be labelled as such, that is of most interest to corporates who use AI.

The corporate community has widely welcomed the Act because it puts certain safeguards in place to stop communications from entering, what has been coined ‘the wild west’. The latter half of 2023 saw a growing concern with individuals feeding ChatGPT business-sensitive and confidential data, which was then used to train the model further.

AI technology has been advancing at such a pace, it’s felt like listening to a podcast on the 2x setting. The Act, however, has allowed us to press pause. It’s making businesses stop and think, and in light of their reputation as a professional outfit that understands the latest regulations shaping their industry, establish a stance on AI.

An opportunity for creativity

Despite the risks and unknown factors, AI presents significant opportunities for progress.

We are seeing businesses continuously reassess their relationship with AI. But what does this mean for the future of corporate communications? To mitigate risks, some company policies state that AI is only to be used for internal processes (such as transcripts), and not for the actual creation of content or communications (such as press releases or social media content). Many businesses are already experimenting with new AI tools for external content and communications. However, some companies have enforced a blanket ban on AI altogether.

AI has been almost unanimously marketed as a way to increase productivity and elevate creativity – something that’s seen as particularly valuable in an area like corporate communications where content is often dry, uninteresting or complex, and engagement is at a premium.

From an agency perspective, AI is truly fascinating. Yet with all the praise we give AI, we know that the one area it really struggles with is tone of voice and written brand identity, which one could quite easily argue are the foundations of corporate communications. This begs the question, has an industry reliance on AI in fact inhibited the creativity that we know can exist in corporate communications?

AI has recently been described as ‘your best assistant’. With the right guidance, it saves time and elevates outputs. It doesn’t (yet) do the thinking for you. Users must first know the technology and how to use it, provide the strategic steer, then crucially, use any AI-created solution as a foundation to build upon. It gives the human teams (agency or in-house) time to add the creative sparkle. AI is the new basecamp.   

In the time saved (from the report you planned to do which took ChatGTP ten minutes) perhaps it’s time to stop, think and reassess. A time to remind ourselves where true creativity comes from. It’s not AI. It’s not the person who knows how to prompt an LLM. It’s the person who can envisage an engaging campaign, piece of content or fearless piece creative with or without generative AI. It’s the person, not LLM, that can provide authentic tone of voice and personality to a business’s communications. It’s you.