Ep 134: AI in The Communications Industry: How To Stay Irreplaceable

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October 31, 2023

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Overview

In a rapidly evolving world where artificial intelligence (AI) continues to reshape industries, the communications field stands at the crossroads of possibility and uncertainty. As business owners and decision-makers, it is crucial to understand how to navigate this transformative landscape and harness the power of AI while staying irreplaceable. In this article, we delve into key insights discussed in the "Everyday AI" episode on AI in the communications industry and explore strategies to leverage AI effectively.

Navigating the Changing Landscape:

AI's advent in the communications industry has provoked both excitement and fear among professionals. As organizations increasingly embrace AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, graphic design AI applications, and more, questions arise about the future of communication roles. The expanding capabilities of generative AI systems can be intimidating, but they also bring forth immense potential for creativity and efficiency.

Building an Ethical Framework:

To create an ecosystem that embraces AI's potential, governments and industry leaders are stepping up to define ethical guidelines. For instance, Australia has led the way by introducing ethical guidelines for AI deployment as early as 2018. These guidelines shape AI's responsible and trustworthy utilization. As business leaders, aligning our practices with ethical standards enables us to adapt to AI advancements while maintaining respect for privacy, transparency, and fairness

Staying Ahead through Continuous Learning:

Within the communications industry, staying relevant and irreplaceable requires an ongoing commitment to learning and upskilling. By actively engaging with AI technologies, business owners can better understand their capabilities, limitations, and implications. The ability to harness AI tools effectively can amplify creativity and streamline processes, enabling communications professionals to deliver exceptional results.

Embracing the Creative Potential:

One of the most exciting aspects of AI in communications lies in its potential to amplify creativity. Generative AI systems can assist in content creation, helping professionals develop engaging copy, design visuals, and explore innovative ideas. Embracing these tools does not mean surrendering our unique perspective, but rather enabling us to push creative boundaries further while addressing time constraints.

Future-Proofing Communication Careers:

Although concerns about job displacement are understandable, it is crucial to view AI as an opportunity rather than a threat. By adapting to the evolving landscape and continuously acquiring new skills, communication professionals can future-proof their careers. By embracing AI, they can remain agile and leverage its power to innovate, transform processes, and generate valuable insights for their organizations.

Conclusion:

In the age of AI, the communications industry is poised for significant transformation. As business owners and decision-makers, it is crucial to approach AI with a growth mindset, seeing it as a tool to enhance our creativity, efficiency, and decision-making processes. By embracing ethical guidelines, investing in continuous learning, and fostering collaboration between AI and human expertise, we can navigate the changing landscape with confidence and maintain our irreplaceable roles in the communications industry.


Topics Covered in This Episode

1. Concerns and attitudes towards AI in the communications industry
2. Exploration of generative AI in creativity and communication


Podcast Transcript


Jordan Wilson [00:00:17]:

There's a lot of fear and nervousness, specifically in the communications field, about what AI is going mean not just for the industry, but for people's careers and their know what happens when all of these generative AI systems can do more and more in terms of communicating. Well, that's what we're going to talk about today, is how to stay irreplaceable in the communications industry. So stick around for that. But thank you for joining. My name is Jordan Wilson and this is Everyday AI. This is your Daily Livestream podcast and free daily newsletter helping everyday people like you and me keep up to date how we can all stay irreplaceable. So we always go over the latest and the greatest, bringing in experts to dive into topics that really matter to you. So as a reminder, please go to youreydayai.com sign up for the free daily newsletter if you can't keep up, if you want to take notes, if you want to know more, that's what that daily newsletter is for.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:17]:

And as a reminder, if you're joining us live, thank you. Please get your questions in. What do you want to know about staying irreplaceable in the communications industry? Or just what do you want to know about the comms industry in general as it pertains to AI? And if you're listening on the podcast, make sure to check out the show notes. As always, a ton of more information in there as well as a link. If you want to come back and chat and hang out and connect, make sure to do that.

Daily AI news

So, before we talk about what's and how to stay irreplaceable in the comms field, let's go over, as we always do, the AI news. So, two really big pieces of news today. So, world leaders are reportedly agreeing on a voluntary code of conduct.

Jordan Wilson [00:01:57]:

So a breaking and exclusive report from Reuters details how the G seven countries are set to agree on a voluntary code of conduct for regulating advanced artificial intelligence systems to mitigate risks and potential misuse of the technology. So this voluntary code of conduct will be a landmark for AI governance among major countries, with eleven points aimed at promoting safe and trustworthy AI globally. If you don't know, the G seven countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the US. I believe. So yeah, that's right. And the European Union obviously has been at the forefront of regulating AI with its AI Act, while other countries have taken a more hands off approach to boost economic growth, especially the Just. The Biden White House just signed an executive order geared toward AI yesterday, whereas other countries have had this kind of in place for years. All right, next report of the day in AI news.

Jordan Wilson [00:02:55]:

A new report from bloomberg shows that Goldman Sachs is very bullish on AI and its impact on the economy. So Goldman Sachs predicts that generative artificial intelligence will contribute a significant boost not only in productivity in the US and other major economies over the next day, but specifically leading to an increase in GDP growth rates. So measuring the impact on the economy. So the report from this Goldman Sachs study shows that they are viewing this boost in productivity to project to result in a 2% expansion rate by 2027 and a 2.3 rate in 2034 for the US economy. So if you don't study economic reports, a 2% expansion rate from one sector is actually enormous. So looking at major growth in that report. So just two big stories for today. There's always more.

Mixed feelings in communications about AI


Jordan Wilson [00:03:52]:

So make sure you go to your everydayai.com, check out the rest of the AI news as well as other trends and everything that's happening. But you didn't come to listen to the AI news. Maybe you did, but you probably came to listen to our guests speak today and to talk about AI in the communications industry and how we can all stay replaceable. So please help me welcome to the show Megan Thomas, the Owner and Director of Buzz Communications, Australia. Megan, thank you for joining us.

Megan Thomas [00:04:21]:

Hey John, thanks so much for having me.

Jordan Wilson [00:04:24]:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think I have to give you a special shout out because this is a live show and you are in Australia. So it's a party there. It's almost midnight. So thank you for joining the show. I really appreciate it.

Megan Thomas [00:04:35]:

I know. And it's Halloween too.

Jordan Wilson [00:04:37]:

Oh, that's right. Spooky stuff probably going on outside. All right, we'll do this then. No tricks, just the facts. What is kind of the overall kind of heartbeat of communications professionals even? Let's talk in Australia. Are people nervous about what gen AI means to the industry and to their careers?

Megan Thomas [00:05:03]:

Yeah, definitely. I've been talking to quite a few people in communication roles in Australia and some of them are excited for sure, but that would be the minority. Most people, even if they're excited, they're a bit terrified as well. And some people don't even want to ever use it. So I think that they are nervous. They're hearing a lot about ChatGPT, being a good writer and also the sort of graphic design AI applications as well and making people nervous. And there's a job impact survey on there's an AI for that, saying that AI could take 98% of a communicator's role. There's already AI for 98% of the role.

Megan Thomas [00:05:49]:

And then you hear stuff in the news, like from BuzzFeed saying they've laid off people and I don't think that was necessarily AI related, but it all adds to that.

Australian guidelines around AI


Jordan Wilson [00:06:01]:

And you know, I think it's interesting too, because the everyday AI show, I'd say the majority of our audience is in the US. But we do have people listening from all over the world. And I think there's different attitudes towards AI. But also what's I think interesting, Megan, is Australia has been kind of preparing for this for a while, right? Didn't you guys have some basic laws in place around AI for years now?

Megan Thomas [00:06:31]:

Yeah, you've done your research well, Jordan. Yeah, Australia likes to think of itself as quite progressive in that space. And we had some ethical guidelines put in place by the government back in 2018, I think it was. And they were quite sort of good principles around how AI needed to be deployed. I don't know how much take up that they've had and certainly all the big organizations have had to put their own things in place and the regulation still needs to catch up. But yeah, the thinking has been being done for quite some time.

Megan's experience with AI

Jordan Wilson [00:07:07]:

Yeah, I think we're kind of in the same boat know, we we both know even my was I was a journalist and then I was kind of working in a media role know, marketing role for a decade after talk. Can you talk a little bit, Megan, about even your own kind of first interactions with generative AI? And then I want to unpack it, but do you remember kind of the first time you saw output from a generative AI system? And what was that initial reaction?

Megan Thomas [00:07:39]:

It was crazy. It was almost a bit magical in some ways. I felt like last year I started playing around a bit with the Metaverse and I was in the digital art exhibition using generative AI and that's kind of when the penny dropped for me and went, Whoa, this stuff's cool. And I started hearing about NFTs and then I got a little bit obsessed with AI image generators and I was on the couch watching telly at night using these things. I was like, wow. It felt like the possibility of creativity was what attracted me, I think. And then when ChatGPT dropped in November is it November? Yeah. That's when the sort of text version of it took off.

Megan Thomas [00:08:29]:

And I've been experimenting and I don't purport to be any kind of expert at all, and I'm not a technical person, but I just have been playing with lots of different AI applications. And I didn't answer your other question, so what do I do? And my background was as a corporate communicator, started in advertising, copywriting, that kind of stuff, and have been working in corporate comms roles for the last sort of 20 years or so and then recently taken my side, hustle out onto main stage as a communicator. So, yeah, I guess I've been one of those people who's also a bit nervous, but also very curious and excited by the opportunity of it, I think.

Advice for AI in communications


Jordan Wilson [00:09:10]:

Maybe without even intentionally doing so. Megan, you just gave people out there listening some of the best advice because you said, I'm not an expert. You started playing you are both nervous and curious. So with that in know how would you speak to others in the communications field that maybe weren't as early as you? Right. So it sounds like you were a little earlier to the game in your exploration. But for maybe those in the comms industry that are a little bit newer to gen AI, what advice can you give them to kind of take that similar route as you?



Megan Thomas [00:09:47]:

Yeah might have been a bit of luck on my place. And I am sort of quite naturally curious. I think for me, the first thing I did was try and understand what is it that a communicator does because you can't sort of talk about whether we're going to be replaced if you don't actually understand what that role entails. And a lot of people think it's just writing or just content creation and that's part of it. But there's much more than that. You can't do that in a vacuum and it's more strategic. So I started by sort of breaking down. I created a little model of what the role of a communicator does.

Megan Thomas [00:10:27]:

So there's obviously the strategic elements of it. There's understanding your audience, there's the analysis you need to understand what environment your message is actually landing in, because you might have a perfectly well crafted message, but if you don't understand the environment you're dropping it in, it can go really badly. So looked at the whole process and then where AI might be able to help and it can do like AI also is not just about content creation, which exploded my mind when I started exploring that world where the human can supplement what the AI does and then together how it makes it even more powerful. So it was pretty much playing. I think you need to move it from concept and talking about it to actually getting in there and experimenting and just working out how it does work for yourself.

Adapting to AI


Jordan Wilson [00:11:25]:

And hey, as a reminder, everyone, if you're joining us live, we have Megan Thomas here, the owner and director of Buzz Communications Australia. We're talking about how to stay irreplaceable in communications roles. So make sure to get your questions in, like Jackie said. Jackie, thank you for joining us. She said, happy Halloween. But also AI is not scary, thanks to Jordan. So I'm actually with that as a transition, megan, I know that even personally here in the US. And I'm sure a lot of your colleagues as well as generative AI's kind of skill sets changed.

Jordan Wilson [00:11:56]:

Right? You just said it's powerful. Even early on, the AI image generators weren't that great. Now they're very good. Now there's generative AI systems that do a great job at graphic design and creating pitch decks and press releases. So as kind of the gen AI skill set changes into more traditional roles that someone in comms would be working in, how can people not be scared? And how can they kind of get ahead.

Megan Thomas [00:12:25]:

Yeah, well, I think you're right. I wrote an article earlier in the year saying that AI won't. We don't need to be scared because it can't understand context, it can't be creative, it can't understand emotion in the way that humans do. Guess what? That's all changing. And now AI can do some of those things we're now seeing with some of the new things coming out, which is a little bit scary. But I think there are areas so if we look at the area of being strategic, right. One of the things that communicators find it difficult to do is we're all time poor, right. And you don't always have access to the data and the insights that you need in order to make sure that you're crafting a message that's going to work.

Megan Thomas [00:13:15]:

So with AI, you can do that analysis upfront. You can do amazing things with competitor analysis, with stakeholder analysis, with research on different environments, which then means that whatever message that you're coming up with is even better. But you can't do it without a human involved because, for example, there's a communicator I really respect. And we had a referendum in Australia recently, and everybody had to vote either yes or no. And there was a lot of conversation about and it was quite heated, some of it, are you a yes voter? Are you a no voter? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And somebody completely on a different topic had headlined their communication campaign, a guilt free way to say no. Now, it was nothing to do with the referendum, right? But the outcry that came out with that meant that she had to come out with an apology and say, hey, I'm sorry. It was nothing about the referendum, it was about this.

Megan Thomas [00:14:22]:

So you need to understand that environment, and AI can't do that for you. You have to have somebody thinking outside of the data, the silo, the system that you're thinking in, to combine that awareness of the culture, the politics, the people, the behavior, and how they're going to respond to what you're doing. So you supercharge what you're doing with the combination of AI with that human experience and intuition.

How AI helps us communicate


Jordan Wilson [00:14:54]:

I love that because yeah, Megan, like what you talked about with the gen AI skill set always expanding. I think we just have to, as humans upskilling and staying ahead of the curve, we also have to kind of shift and change our role as well. So I love that point. Great question here from Ben. So, Ben, thanks for joining and asking how can AI help us better understand the people we're communicating with and how might they best receive a given message? Great question. So, Megan, what are your thoughts on that? How can AI better help us understand the people we're communicating with?

Megan Thomas [00:15:30]:

Oh, yeah, that's a great question because you have to understand the people that you're communicating with in order to have a message that works for them. So one of the things that I used to do that worked really well in organizations but would take forever is get do you have like employee engagement or employee sentiment? You know what I'm talking about, a survey, they tell you how happy they are. So as a professional communicator, one of the first things I would do is try and get hold of that raw data and I would sift through these spreadsheets and I would actually do a find for the word communication through thousands of these spreadsheets. I would pull out the comment, I'd put it in a document, I would work through what the themes were, come up with some solutions to socialize that, and that would form the basis of a communication strategy on something, right? It was exhausting. Now I don't need to do that. I can put the spreadsheet in, it will find the themes and it will do it in 2 seconds. And it would probably have taken me two weeks to do that. And I don't know how accurate it was, it was just based on me pulling out bits.

Megan Thomas [00:16:42]:

I might do a word cloud if I had access to that. So that would be one way.

Use case for AI in communications


Jordan Wilson [00:16:50]:

That would mean you can tell Megan's a communications pro because she had a perfect answer ready with a superb use case. So even what Megan just said right there, if you're looking for a way to better resonate with your audience, that's such a good example. Hey, since you knocked that one out of the park, let's take another question here. Megan. So Maverick asking. Maverick, thank you for joining the show, as always. What is your favorite use case in using AI for communications?

Megan Thomas [00:17:20]:

Favorite use case? Oh, I've been doing lots of different things, but one of the things I did recently was because I want to help communicators understand AI and how they can use it. So it's a bit of an education piece I'm trying to do. And you hear all these acronyms, there are so many acronyms with AI, isn't that like ChatGPT, blah, blah, blah? You hear? GenAI, AGI, LMMs, all of that. So I first thought, well, I'll ask ChatGPT to come up with a visual analogy that helps me explain those different acronyms. And I asked it for about ten or 20 or something. It's about a bunch out. And I liked a couple, I liked Ocean and I liked a music band. So then I put that into what I put that into, I think bing.

Megan Thomas [00:18:14]:

And I created an ocean. I said for the ocean I wanted a fish and a dolphin and an octopus and some coral and did the similar with the band. And then after I got the image that I wanted that explained each of them, I could animate bits of it using a different AI, which is called I think GENMO was the one that I used. So as I was talking through each bit, when I was showing it in a session, the little octopus was my AGI because it's super smart, was doing its thing and the little dolphin was going around for another. That yeah, education and marketing. I've been using it more recently. And too, there's so many cool things that you can do now with ChatGPT and the new version of the Dali e bit and the plugins, some of which I've learned about from you, Jordan. Those plugins changed my life.

Megan Thomas [00:19:11]:

My goodness. Did a little marketing campaign, I created some taglines in ChatGPT, I then created some images in Dali, I put them into Canva and then you can even with Microsoft oh, I can't remember the name, but now starts with D post it straight to your socials.

Final takeaway


Jordan Wilson [00:19:34]:

Yeah, I love thank you for mentioning plugins because as anyone in marketing, technology, communications, it's so important you have to use the plugins. My gosh. All right, so we're going to wrap this one because Megan, it's late where you are, but I want to end with one very direct question because we've covered a lot, you've given such great advice, handled some questions, but what is and maybe just how? Let's just answer it how? One more time. How can people in communications stay irreplaceable?

Megan Thomas [00:20:10]:

I think they can experiment as much as they can, but trust that the foundations of communication, they don't change. Continue being strategic, continue understanding your audience, continue trying to be a great storyteller and then as much as you can, just experiment and play and that's the only way you learn really. So understand what it can do for you and I think it can make us even better communicators.

Jordan Wilson [00:20:41]:

I mean, y'all, Megan just laid out the you're in if you're in the communications industry, if you're worried about all of these new features and powers, so to speak, of generative AI, she just laid out the roadmap for you. Megan, thank you so much for coming on the Everyday AI show late your time and dishing out such great tactical advice for everyone, not just in the communications industry, but everyone. We very much appreciate you coming on.

Megan Thomas [00:21:08]:

Oh, thanks so much Jordan, had fun.

Jordan Wilson [00:21:12]:

All right. And hey, as a reminder, there's always going to be more. Make sure to go to your Everydayai.com sign up for the free daily newsletter, a lot more about what Megan is doing and some more insights into our conversation today as well. So we hope to see you back for another day of Everyday AI. Thanks y'all.

Megan Thomas [00:21:29]:

Bye.

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