July 11, 2023

AI in Marcomms: Help or Hindrance?

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AI in Marcomms: Help or Hindrance?


Ali White, PR & Marketing Director:
  • AI is shaking up every industry, but generative AI tools are generating suspicion from marcomms professionals
  • With all technologies there are opportunities but also limitations and risks
  • The true test of any technology’s value is how it can be used “wisely” 

Author Rasheed Ogunlaru once said, “All the tools, techniques, and technology in the world are nothing without the head, heart, and hands to use them wisely, kindly, and mindfully”.

Since the open season on generative AI tools kicked off at the end of 2022, masses of material have been produced exploring the functions, opportunities, limitations, and importantly, the ethics of using generative AI. I won’t summarise them here; let ChatGPT handle that. However, it still feels like we’re all in what marketing professionals call the “discovery” phase.

For many industries, integrating AI tools effectively presents a double-edged sword: how to embrace technology without compromising a business’s humanity and its connection with people, customers, and audiences. There’s a hint of science fiction-based fear among some marketers and communicators, as if technology is rendering human experts redundant. But as the quote above suggests, the art and value of any tool depend on how wisely we use it.

While AI tools can inform, expedite, and even automate certain marketing and communications processes, there are also pitfalls to consider. For social media channels for example, data like optimum posting times, voice of customer analysis to generate topics and keywords can both be helpful to guide content generation strategies. But for every well intentioned pre-scheduled piece of content there is a horror story to be found of when brands and businesses have had a change of circumstances and not been aware, or able, to pull back all comms in time to avoid misfires and miscommunications.  Relying solely on AI-generated material and insights without human intervention, evaluation, and analysis poses the risk of producing ill-informed, unhelpful content. No technology in the world can outperform an expert with a broad understanding of context.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently tweeted about ChatGPT, stating, “it’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now. We have lots of work to do on robustness and truthfulness”.

This is crucial to remember as we continue to discover where AI can help and where it may hinder. The industry will undoubtedly continue to evolve as marketers embrace AI’s potential, but as with every new technology and tool, continuous training, testing, and evaluation are essential to empower professionals in making informed decisions and ensuring responsible AI use.

When handled by trained professionals, AI can be a powerful aid, unlocking untapped potential by providing opportunities for deeper insights from customers, stakeholders and even competitors. However, it is vital to avoid over-reliance and never neglect human ingenuity. Striking the right balance is vital when embracing new technologies and tools. We should be aware of their limitations while fearlessly experimenting with what’s possible. This is the only way to navigate a changing landscape. The rate of change shouldn’t surprise us; being at the cutting edge has defined marketing for decades and will continue to do so for decades to come.