AI: Yes, you need to think about the big picture while mainstream tools are already here

When recording studios started to use filters and effects pedals musicians rose up in outrage.

This was not music, they said. People were being tricked, they warned withan air of indignation.

Right now, we’re at the stage of new tools being made available and needing to think about they’re used while they’re already being used by comms people. 

When I first sketched this blog post, I pulled together some big picture resources to get you started with AI. There’s some good strategic stuff from UK Government and the CIPR I’ve gone through.

But there’s also a slew of announcements by big tech companies that mean AI tools will be even further into the day-to-day.

So, this is less about needing sign-off to employ banks of boffins in labcoats to come up with great ideas. Although having the big picture covered is sensible you’ll be using AI even without thinking about it too much. 

AI tactical resources 

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and AI

In the last few days Meta announced some tactical changes to creator tools in their leading platforms

What it also is looking at the announcements by Facebook and Google is that AI is being integrated right into the heart of their social channels.

The good news is that if you use AI this will be flagged up. So, adjust the background and people will be able to see which tool you’ve used. Less Government health warning and more helpful tip to try out the tool too. 

This is a good move. 

YouTube and AI

And Google are following suit with AI tools around their YouTube Shorts platform. Not everyone is using their TikTok rival right now but you can be sure if it works well in one area it’ll be pushed through into other areas.

TikTok and AI

AI created content can be marked as such on TikTok.

AI strategic resources 

A green light from Government comms 

Firstly, here’s a green light. Yes, you can. Simon Baugh, chief executive of the Government Communications Service, has given a speech that addresses using AI as a communicator.

He rightly points out that of course we should.

How should public sector communicators use AI? The first question might be: “should public sector communicators use AI at all?” The short answer is “yes”. In a few years, asking this question may seem as ridiculous as asking whether we should use the internet. 

I’m very much of the opinion that AI won’t replace the whole of comms. But comms people who can use AI will replace those who can’t. Fifteen years ago I was at an LGComms conference on a panel to discuss social media. We were introduced with the words ‘there’s only two things wrong with social media, it’s not social and it’s not media.’ This was at the time a ridiculous thing to say and that individual left the sector not long after.

AI, Simon says, was used in the Department of Health and Social Care Every Mind Matters campaign which led to 31,000 more people using a mental health plan. It is also getting used by the Royal Navy in their careers website to provide answers to questions in the chat function. This has reduced calls by 60 per cent. 

It’s interesting that GCS are looking to develop their own version of ChatGPT. In other words, a large language model that when asked for a comms plan will use GCS’s own version of a comms plan. 

Personally, I’ve found that GCS’s comms planning tool may work for Government but its too unwieldy for a lot of what local government, NHS, police, fire and rescue do. Government departments may think of a dozen campaigns a month. In local government, that can be a dozen issues a week easily. 

A guide to using AI in the public sector 

If more insight is needed to build a business case then UK Government’s Guide to using AI in the public sector is also a good starting point.  While this is aimed at big picture projects it does look into the issues that it’s wise to look at. So, the quality of the data is worth looking at, for example.

CIPR research 

The first time I came across AI in earnest was the CIPR’s hugely useful Humans Still Needed report for 2018. This mapped how the sector was going to be affected by AI. Five years on, there is a second CIPR report called ‘Humans Needed More Than Ever.

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