Internal comms in the age of AI

28 June 2024 / Neil Pendrey

With the rise of generative AI for everything from writing emails to creating videos, the way organisations communicate is on the path to a landmark transformation. But while the tools we use may be evolving, the principles of effective internal comms are reassuringly familiar — and more important than ever before.

In this post, find out:

• Who is actually using generative AI for day-to-day comms
• How to maintain quality
• Useful internal comms tools to support AI adoption
• Measuring success

How generative AI is already being used
According to the World Economic Forum, media coverage of AI grew 286% through 2023. ChatGPT usage grew to over 180 million active users, while generative AI also became embedded in day-to-day productivity tools like Microsoft 365. Whether people are preparing marketing collateral, writing emails, or putting together a proposal, some extra help from the friendly AI is just a few clicks away.

It’s no surprise, then, that employees everywhere are experimenting with how AI can make their lives easier. In late 2023, a Salesforce study estimated that over a quarter (28%) of workers were already using generative AI in their roles, while an additional 32% expected to start soon. As models become more sophisticated and employees become more confident about the technology, this usage will grow exponentially.

The quality challenge of generative AI
In Deloitte’s State of Generative AI in the Enterprise report, almost 3000 business leaders were asked about AI adoption. They identified two key benefits driving their use of generative AI: improving efficiency and productivity (56%) and reducing costs (35%).

The reality is that using AI will enable people to create comms faster and more affordably, In Up To The Light’s What Clients Think 2024 survey, 74% of agency clients said they expected AI to drive down agency costs in the next few years. But maintaining standards remains a job for human beings. While AI can quickly throw together a first draft, it’s internal comms teams that will be responsible for ensuring consistency and quality. Assets like newsletters and emails will become vital resources in helping employees feel confident about AI adoption.

Supporting AI with useful tools and resources
Before now, tools like brand messaging guides, storytelling documents and tone of voice guidelines have been delivered to support employees as they create comms. Now, those same tools are key to adopting AI while safeguarding quality.

While ChatGPT could write the copy for your next PowerPoint, it won’t necessarily sit alongside your other assets or connect to your wider comms strategy. The only way to achieve this consistency, quality and cohesion is through a deep understanding of your business, market, competitors, and strategy.

In our work, we spend a lot of time thinking about messaging, finding the story at the core of a brand and developing a narrative that internal and external stakeholders will engage with. Often, the big challenge is distilling a complex business down into small, manageable ideas and key messages.

Without the right suite of guidelines and examples, it’s impossible to gauge the success of whatever the AI creates—and when all those resources are in place, it’s easier to steer a model into giving you the kind of output you need. A sound strategy and clear guidelines are essential.

Measuring the success of generative AI
The time-saving benefits of generative AI are potentially game-changing—but the risks of off-brand, inconsistent comms need to be carefully managed. A strategic approach to internal comms doesn’t just give your teams a clearer sense of how to use AI, but can also help you communicate best practices.

Ultimately, though, the effectiveness of AI-authored collateral must still be assessed by people. Tools like strong brand values and clearly articulated messaging help define the line between on-brand and off-brand. While AI can significantly ramp up the amount of content you produce, guidelines and existing assets become valuable benchmarks of quality.

*The image accompanying this article was created using Generative AI.

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