Navigating the generative AI wave

Insights and innovations from Tech Trends Lates 2024 

In case you missed it, last month we held our first Tech Trends Lates – a more informal version of our big Tech Trends event in January.  

We brought together comms experts and tech enthusiasts to tackle the topic of generative AI’s role in our world and how it is transforming comms. Taking part in our panel discussion was Andrew Bruce Smith – one of our industry’s pioneers on how AI is transforming PR, social media, SEO, and analytics – and a guy who’s been exploring the potential of AI since the ’80s. 

The extent to which generative AI can transform comms (and already is) in 2024 is mind-blowing; imagine a world where 30% of marketing content comes from AI. That’s not a wild guess; it’s what McKinsey is predicting. And it’s not decades away – it’s next year. Across the globe, from the EU’s 42% to the US’ 24%, people are already getting cosy with AI at work. 

Embracing AI: The future of comms is here

Tech Trends Lates underscored a pivotal insight for the communications industry: embracing generative AI is essential for efficiency and creativity and redefining communications.

With its capacity for rapid data analysis, content generation, and as a tool for analytical depth and creativity, it’s now being used in daily operations such as brainstorming for thought leadership, blogs, social content, and reports. Andrew emphasised: “It might seem mundane, but the use of AI for meeting assistance means we can now use that time to be more creative and effective.” This balance underscores AI’s intent not to replace humans but to augment us, facilitating a relationship where technology and human creativity merge to drive better outcomes. 

Custom GPTs, which we demonstrated on stage, exemplifies AI’s capacity for generating a first draft of personalised, efficient media responses and initial angles for thought leader pieces. And now ChatGPT extends to creating code for various applications, from microsites to complex algorithms.  

The challenge of scalability and ethics

However, its integration into our daily work shows more than a tech upgrade; it demands an approach to ethics, data security, and continuous learning.  

Nowadays there are so many announcements and updates around new AI offerings, it can feel overwhelming. But it’s crucial we find the best tools and figure out how best to use them as well as where to integrate them into our different workflows. 

Each automated decision and AI-crafted message we deploy must be underpinned by a commitment to ethical practice, which includes transparency as to where AI has been used, being mindful of the data that we feed it, and only using its output as a starting point for our work.   

Lights, camera, AI: Tech and talent in video and creative

Our Head of Film, Matt Peltier, has been working with AI tools from Adobe, Elevenlabs, and HeyGen and believes it holds huge promise, but simply cannot replace the human touch. As Matt highlighted during our panel discussion: while AI transforms video production, it trips over the subtleties of brand storytelling.  

“AI can pen the script but might miss the emotional cue that gives a scene its soul”, Matt stated. Andrew agreed, as well as highlighting the importance of “giving the machine a good brief. Working in comms, we all know how important a good brief is! Good brief. Good output.” This usage further extends into creating rough mock-ups for mood boards and creative concepts – demonstrating AI’s growing role in the creative process despite current limitations. Ultimately though, its current capabilities highlight why we’re still irreplaceable in the narrative equation. We’re the ones who infuse stories with warmth, depth, and relatability, ensuring the stories we tell resonate on a human level. 

The AI Revolution

As Andrew highlighted: “We have been handed the keys to these new technologies with very little guidance. Last year, people played around with it. This year, we need to get serious and systematically apply this to our processes.” 

While we are all diving into generative AI – experimenting, learning, and letting it aid our creativity and efficiency – developing a strategy for communications teams (and the wider business) is critical.  

Without that set of instructions, building the right strategy is hard, but some key questions worth considering to build out that process include:  

  • How is AI used today in your team for comms and marketing – if at all – and what are the challenges and opportunities? 
  • Which workflows have the most value to gain from AI? 
  • How does the strategy become a reality? 
  • How much might it cost and what is the business case – and in many cases, where budget is tight.  
  • How do we ensure that everyone uses it in the right way but also still encourages people to experiment and discover? 

Just like the introduction of any new technology – from the PC to the iPhone to social media – there is no doubt that generative AI will completely transform the way we work, the roles we see in our teams today, and the kind of work we deliver. The question is how quickly we can adopt it, in the right way, in the right places, to stay ahead of the curve.