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Communicate Smarter, Not Harder: It’s Time to Embrace Artificial Intelligence

By Laura Braden


When I started my public affairs and communications career, we faxed op-eds (one by one) to newspapers across the country. We then waited with bated breath for our vendor to snail mail us hard copies of published placements. Next, we painstakingly made photocopies and scotch-taped them into a giant binder of all media coverage before shipping them to the client. 


My, how times have changed! 


And nothing demonstrates the obviousness of that point more than artificial intelligence (AI), which is revolutionizing the “communications industry,” including public affairs, marketing, content creation, public relations, lobbying and government relations, design and branding, digital advocacy, event planning, and social media management.


WHY EMBRACE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?


AI is a branch of computer science that creates machines to work and react similarly to humans. If you’ve ever asked Google or Alexa to set a timer or turn down your lights, that’s AI. The same goes for using auto-correct while texting or facial recognition to access your phone.


Embracing AI-powered communications tools, like Canva and ChatGPT, can help you stay ahead of the curve, achieve improved results, and deliver extra value to clients and projects – at a fraction of the time and cost.


AI can help you better understand data patterns and trends, research targeted audiences, design compelling content, track media impressions and coverage, identify potential crises, schedule social media posts, and so much more.


Communicators often face never-ending to-do lists, juggling multiple projects under tight deadlines. AI speeds up mundane and repetitive tasks, freeing my time for more proactive and thoughtful planning, ideation, management, and strategizing.


It’s also common to get bogged down in the minutia of task execution (E.G., imagine being tasked to write five unique op-eds on the same subject, and the first drafts are due in 24 hours…true story). AI-powered tools have helped me work through writer’s block and expand my thinking without sacrificing the quality, personality, or integrity of my ideas.


In the early days of social media, I had to persuade clients, elected officials, and businesses to launch profiles. Many thought it was a fad or didn’t understand its long-term utility. 


The exercise taught me a valuable lesson: always strive to be an early adopter pushing the envelope versus having to explain later why I didn’t suggest the tactic (or worse, having to admit that I don't know how to leverage the tools to support our objectives).


And while these technologies help, I don't believe they will replace creative and talented professionals who can tell compelling stories and solve complex human-centered problems (E.G., what’s the best way to persuade residents of this county to support our sponsored legislation?). 


AI may be able to draft ten ideas on any given topic – but only humans with relevant expertise and experience know which ideas will best resonate on which platforms to which targeted audiences…at least for now.


AI + HUMANS = DYSTOPIAN NIGHTMARE?


Let's also not oversell the “glory” of AI because it's easy to imagine the misuse and unintended consequences it may have on society:


  • How many jobs and industries will AI replace or transform? 

  • Was I home sick the day society voted to unleash this on the populace? Who decided for the rest of us that the world needed this technology?

  • How do we prevent plagiarism, misinformation, deep fakes, and the perpetuation of prejudice and bias? Even more mass surveillance and loss of privacy?

  • Should we brace ourselves for a tsunami of subpar, copy/paste content?

  • Is there an inherent "ick" factor in using AI to write obituaries, songs, and wedding toasts…or is it the same as asking a talented friend for help? 

  • Are you ready to upload your digital/multimedia footprint to create an Avatar that can answer questions and speak on your behalf while you're on vacation?

  • Should communicators disclose their utilization of AI (E.G., this article was proofed by ProWritingAid and polished with Jasper)?

  • And for early adopters… how should we distinguish our new skillset from the pack? Should we call ourselves AI curators? AI wranglers?


Communicators stand at the front lines of AI adoption and implementation, so we should help lead the discussion around moral and ethical considerations. If we can't put the toothpaste back into the tube, then let's ensure our usage aligns with industry standards and societal values. 


Transparency will also help raise awareness and build trust with our audiences, clients, employers, stakeholders, and colleagues.


TL:DR: FAVORITE TOOLS


Disclaimer: This list isn’t exhaustive and emphasizes free tools. The variance of AI-powered resources can make your head spin, so I recommend brainstorming your particular “pain points” (E.G., monitoring news or writing press releases) and searching ProductHuntFuture ToolsH-supertools, and Futurepedia for related tools.

Nearly every paid version offers a free trial, and be sure to explore each company’s tutorials because utilizing AI is as much art as science. The quality of the human’s inputs (E.G., original ideas, talking points, tone, and sentiment) always equates to the quality of the AI's outputs.


ACCESSIBILITY & INCLUSION


  • Ava provides closed captions for any meeting (paid), including large and small, in-person and online, scheduled or last-minute meetings 

  • DeepL Translator translates text and files into 31 languages (free, paid), and I would still have a fluent speaker check the AI’s work, as mistranslations can damage trust and credibility.

  • Scribie creates audio and video transcripts (paid), and extend the life of the content by running your transcriptions through WordTune Read to create blog posts, talking points, and social media posts


CONTENT CREATION


  • AddContext creates searchable chatbots based on the content of YouTube playlists (free). The AI scans your YouTube playlist to create a chatbot that can answer virtually any relevant question (be sure to test, test, test before launching). Below the summary, the AI also provides a transcript blurb the user can click to be taken directly to that moment in the video. Some of the best features have recently been put on hold, so I suggest bookmarking this one until they're fully operational

  • Beautiful builds customizable PowerPoint presentations in minutes (free, paid)

  • Clipmaker generates short clips from YouTube videos (free, paid)

  • Curate popular and trending hashtags on Instagram and Twitter (free, paid)

  • Every Pixel searches every stock photo database (free)

  • Fliki turns text into video with AI voiceover (free, paid). Input your script, and Fliki will suggest videos, which you can quickly switch out for others in their library or upload your own. Other features include filters, closed captioning, background music, speech recognition, video summarization, and sentiment analysis.

  • WordTune Read summarizes content into main points (free, paid). Scan videos, PDFs, and webpages to create "main points," which can then be turned into collateral like talking points, presentation notes, blog posts, and social media captions


COPYWRITING


  • ChatGPT answers questions using AI language (free). What does that mean? I asked it to tell me more, and it responded with, “ChatGPT is an AI language model that generates human-like text responses to questions and prompts. It uses deep learning techniques to understand and generate text, making it possible to converse with users on various topics.”

  • USE CASE IDEAS: Have a paragraph in a draft op-ed giving you full writer’s block? Ask ChatGPT to rewrite it with a bold, persuasive, and professional tone. In 100 words for an audience of policymakers and elected officials. Tell it to incorporate the main points X, Y, and Z. Don’t say A, B, or C. Need to write 25 sample social media posts for an advocacy campaign’s toolkit, and the burnout is starting to feel real? Provide inputs similar to the previous idea, and let the AI work its magic – the more specific the inputs, the better the outputs. You can also ask follow-up questions (E.G., rewrite the content to be more direct with a friendlier tone and emphasize point Y). I use this tool primarily for writing and ideas, but the ideas are virtually endless.

  • Jasper helps you write blog posts, headlines, marketing emails, and more (free, paid)

  • Kafkai is best for long-form writing (E.G., articles or op-eds) with dozens of industry niches (free trial, paid)

  • ProWritingAid proofs your writing (free, paid). I used to be a big fan of Grammarly. While it’s still a great option, ProWritingAid has additional features in its paid version, including enhanced writing analysis, style, and readability suggestions. Both offer Chrome extensions, which means their features can auto-apply to your emails, Word documents, Google docs, etc.


DESIGN 


  • Canva just makes my life easier (free, paid). If you can only afford one paid plan for design, choose Canva. It’s incredibly intuitive, easy to use, and provides an endless toolkit of templates and elements. They're always adding features (see their new, AI-powered documents!) that make it fun to produce content like infographics, videos (with recorded voiceover), banners, merchandise, PowerPoint presentations, social media posts, and event invitations.

  • Cleanup Pictures removes anything from a photo (including text) (free, paid)

  • Font Joy pairs fonts for easy design choices (free)

  • Let’s Enhance increases image resolution without losing quality (free, paid)

  • RestorePhoto fixes blurry and distorted photos (free)


PODCASTS & LIVE STREAMS


  • Buzzsprout provides podcast listener analytics, filters, and hosting (free, paid)

  • Deciphr timestamps and summarizes podcasts into transcripts (free) to help you improve accessibility and help you quickly draft corresponding blog posts and social media captions (etc.) to promote and amplify your episodes

  • Podcastle covers the entire production pipeline (free, paid). Features include multi-track recording, intuitive editing, noise cancellation, audio transcription, text-to-speech, and revoice (I.E., a digital copy of your voice so you can generate audio by typing)

  • StreamYard enables you to produce, brand, and promote live streams across multiple channels and platforms (free, paid)


RESEARCH & IDEATION


  • Analyze profiles on Instagram (free)

  • Answer the Public and Ask the Public provide insights into Google search results (free, paid). For example, you could take the best responses and develop a searchable FAQ on your website that will also organically boost your SEO (because it reflects what folks are already searching for online)

  • SparkToro researches your targeted audiences (free, paid) to show the websites they visit, social accounts they follow, and hashtags they use better to inform decision-making, including content creation and advertising budgets

  • Validator provides feedback on business and content ideas (free)


GO DEEPER



(AI Disclaimer: proofed by Grammarly and lightly edited using Claude)


Want to borrow my brain? Book a one-on-one session today!


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