The communications profession has often lagged in adopting new digital technologies that profoundly impact communication practices. Email, the internet, the web, social media, mobile technology, and live streaming quickly integrated into marketing and advertising, while organizational communicators largely ignored them. Only when these technologies became ubiquitous did the profession realize the need to catch up to remain relevant.
Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) is the latest technology confronting communicators, and it is poised to be the most significant. As with previous technologies, some communicators are interested in GenAI and are finding ways to use it, mainly for writing tasks. However, the profession largely remains at the starting gate.
Haiilo GenAI Blog Stat
Fortunately, GenAI has an overarching characteristic that makes its adoption far easier than its predecessors: it requires no internal infrastructure. There’s no need for servers, costly software subscriptions, investments in first-generation hardware, IT expenditures, or app development. GenAI is neither a platform nor a distribution channel or device.
GenAI is a personal assistant.
A recent study found that as many as 75 percent of white-collar workers are bringing GenAI to work on their personal devices and using it covertly, fearing repercussions if discovered. Several high-powered GenAI tools are available for free, with “pro” versions typically costing around $20 per month. Thus, you can have paid versions of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Gemini, Anthropic’s Claude, Perplexity, and Midjourney for only $100 each month.

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Most communicators struggle with how to use GenAI beyond its role as a writing aid.
Wharton Professor Ethan Mollick, author of “Co-Intelligence,” a New York Times bestseller about GenAI, suggests inviting GenAI to the table and using it for everything. Whatever task you’re working on, see how GenAI can help.
Are you about to interview an executive about an organizational change? Share your questions with GenAI and ask if there are others you should ask. Are you crafting a communication strategy to align employees with that change? Share your strategy with GenAI and ask why it might fail. Once your strategy is finalized, GenAI can help tailor messages to different employee cohorts. Are you assessing feedback from your change communication effort? Ask GenAI to analyze the results.

💡Looking for Inspiration?: Best AI Prompts for Internal Communications [40+ Ideas]

Ethan Mollick Quote GenAI
The only way to learn how AI can make us more efficient, productive, and valuable to our organizations is to test its capabilities in every aspect of communication. As we discover its strengths, we can integrate it into our workflows, using it where it excels and keeping those tasks at which we are superior.
Mollick outlines four rules for using GenAI that perfectly fit internal communications. We have already discussed one rule: experiment often. Corporate communicators already serve as the conscience of many organizations, so being the human in the loop—another rule—is a natural fit.
The rule that helped me elevate my use of GenAI is to treat it like a person and tell it who it is. For all the guidelines and recommendations about prompt writing, the best prompts are crafted the same way you would query an expert. The only difference is that you begin by telling the GenAI exactly what kind of expert it is:
Shel Holtz GenAI Quote

“You are a sustainability subject matter expert who specializes in zero-waste initiatives.” The responses you receive when seeking information about achieving zero waste will be far better. But don’t settle for the first answer you get. Correct it as you would a person. Ask for clarification. Ask follow-up questions. It’s a conversation, not an input-output exercise.

Mollick’s final rule is that the GenAI you are using today is the worst you will ever use. It will only get better and more powerful and gain new capabilities. Staying current on developments is important; fortunately, it’s also easy. There are numerous newsletters (here’s a good list: https://approachableai.com/top-ai-newsletters/) and podcasts (here’s a podcast list: https://geekflare.com/ai-podcasts/). I also recommend “No Brainer” from Geoff Livingston and Greg Verdino, a pair of marketers who have been on top of digital technology since the earliest days.
If we follow these guidelines, perhaps the communication profession can assume a leadership role instead of once again lagging behind the rest of the business world.

About the Author

Shel Holtz is senior director of Communications at Webcor, a commercial general contractor and builder. He has worked in organizational communications for more than 45 years, leading communications at two Fortune 400 companies and working in the communication practices at two global HR consulting firms before launching his own consulting practice, working with some of the biggest organizations in the world for more than 20 years before joining Webcor in 2017.
Shel is a longtime blogger and a pioneer podcaster, starting the For Immediate Release podcast aimed at organizational communicators in January 2005. He is the author of six communication-themed books, along with countless articles in journals and magazines, as well as chapters in communication-focused books like Bob Dillenschneider’s, “The Public Relations Handbook.” He also speaks frequently on topics related to communication and technology. He is a Fellow of the International Association of Business Communicators, a senior fellow of the Conference Board’s Marketing and Communication Council, and a founding research fellow of the Team Flow Institute. He currently serves on the board of the Global Communication Certification Council.
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