How will companies use generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools for internal communications? In one sentence, ChatGPT says, “Companies can utilize generative artificial intelligence to automate content creation, personalize communication, and foster cross-functional collaboration in their internal communication strategies.”
But what does this look like in practice? Can generative AI transform or disrupt internal comms? What are the benefits, risks, legal and ethical considerations? Let’s dig in.
Defining generative artificial intelligence (AI)
Generative AI is a technology that quickly and autonomously generates text, images, source code, and other outputs when prompted. Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data with similar characteristics.
For example, ChatGPT’s training data included a large corpus of text data, including digitized books, articles, news stories, web pages, and online content. While the standard version of ChatGPT cannot access data beyond September 2021, other versions do not include this limitation. ChatGPT is just one example of generative AI.
How internal comms can use generative AI
Internal comms can use AI tools to help with research, brainstorming, and drafting content. Whether your teams are writing newsletters, motivating participation in events and benefits, explaining corporate strategy and objectives, or working to explain complex engineering topics, generative AI tools can provide a head start. If you leverage AI tools, a human must review and edit any AI-generated content and double-check for accuracy.
- Use AI to brainstorm ideas. In addition to other forms of research, you can use AI tools to brainstorm ideas. For example, you could input a prompt like, “Give me ten ideas for corporate newsletter topics employees enjoy” or “What are the top ten methods proven to increase employee engagement?” Your AI prompts can be similar to what you might ask using a search engine like Google. This brainstorming method can speed up your ideation process and help you focus on writing more engaging content tailored to your unique audiences.
- Use AI to research complex topics. Generative AI tools have pre-processed a significant volume of online and digital book content into categories, so instead of running a few searches and cherry-picking the top results, you ask or prompt the AI to summarize the available research for you.
For complex communication assignments, you might run prompts like “Summarize the most successful corporate strategies to increase employee retention” or “Explain in detail how large organizations have successfully integrated multiple acquisitions.” The text returned will summarize broader search results and help you focus on any additional research and writing.
- Use AI to help you write shorter, summarized content. Communications know employees have shorter attention spans and feel overloaded with information. Providing brief, concise summaries of the key points is critical to getting corporate messages across, and generative AI can help with these challenging editing jobs.
Give the AI your document text and ask for a 100-word summary. Or ask it to summarize the content into a few bullet points for each main point or topic. After you draft an email or memo, use an AI tool to rewrite your message more concisely. You can further edit these and place them at the top of your content or use them as an email or post (linking to your longer-form story). That way, even people who skim the message will get the main points.
- Use AI to simplify complicated material. Often, communicators educate employees and make complex material more easily understood. Think: Insurance benefits information or IT technical topics. Most likely, you already spend significant time translating jargon into plain language. To speed up these projects and improve your communications, consider using AI prompts like this: “Describe a high deductible health plan in simple terms” or “Describe the benefits of a high deductible health plan so a high schooler can understand it.” These AI-generated outputs can help you rephrase your messages so they are more accessible and digestible for your audience.
Important considerations and risks
It’s important to remember that the generated output of these, or any, AI tools is only ever as good as the data input, so if junk or nonsense goes in, junk and nonsense will come out. AI is also only as good as the software model and restrictions the programmers are using. Hence, as programmers limit inputs and output, these tools are essentially censoring specific topics or ideas that will undoubtedly skew the generated text one way or another, for better or worse, even disallowing specific prompts completely.
Academic institutions consider generative AI a form of plagiarism. The San Jose State University’s Academic Integrity Policy States, “A paper that is written by AI is not considered your original work. . . It doesn’t matter which AI program/software you use. Using any of these to write your papers is considered a form of plagiarism.” The same will likely hold in corporate environments.
Generative AI does not cite sources of information or data. This means copyrighted material may be included, and you would be none the wiser — creating a considerable legal risk in corporate environments.
There is also the risk of false sourcing and quoting, as these tools have been shown to “hallucinate” and output spurious references that do not exist. Just because the AI “says it” doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate. It is your responsibility to fact-check AI-generated information and cite your sources accordingly.
Leveraging generative AI for internal communications
Generative AI has terrific potential for internal communication applications and can speed up research and writing work, but it is not a panacea.
If indiscriminately overused, it may increase the information overload problem. Used responsibly, generative AI can save communications teams time, enabling them to accomplish more with less, which, given the ever-present communications resource constraints, is a significant benefit.
Whether brainstorming ideas, compiling research, or generating content, AI tools can make a meaningful contribution, provided humans oversee and approve the outputs. Producing creative content that reflects your organization’s brand voice and resonates with your audience is something AI can’t wholly duplicate, but it can make the process easier.