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What communication skills does your team need today?

Published Apr 24, 2024 – By Wardour


It’s a difficult question to answer when the ‘todays’ seem to be getting shorter. After all, it’s been less than 18 months since OpenAI’s ChatGPT was released and turned the content creation world on its head almost overnight. Since then, we’ve seen it and other generative AI tools introduce new communication methods for us to learn at pace so we can maximise their potential and take advantage of the opportunities – as well as avoid the pitfalls – presented by these new technologies. 

As AI and its applications continue to evolve at pace, the nonverbal and verbal communication skills creative teams require will have to adapt to these advancements quickly, to continue to meet their clients’ needs while also retaining editorial control and their unique creative signatures. As the dust from the AI whirlwind begins to settle, we look at what it means to have strong communication skills in today's rapidly changing digital landscape.

By necessity, an effective communication team already looks almost unrecognisable to how it did just a few years ago (if you need any convincing, just read our blog written by our resident Gen Z), and its skill set will continue to evolve along with the latest technological trends and market disruptions. Video is everywhere now, the social media landscape is constantly shifting and thought leadership is on the rise. Effective communicators must be able to react to the changing needs of their clients, driven in turn by their audience's values and how and where they interact with content.

The speed of AI development has intensified this shift, and it is likely to do so for a long time to come based on the current trajectory. The global AI market is expected to have a compound growth rate of 36.2% from 2022 to 2027 – increasing to $407 billion – according to data from Hootsuite. Good communicators will approach AI with a cautious optimism, recognising its potential while bearing in mind its challenges when using it to inform editorial or creative decisions.

ChatGPT started the conversation on what the future of written content will look like but it's not only writers and editors whose work is being mirrored, if only in part so far, by AI. OpenAI is among those who have taken their first steps into generative video with Sora, its engine that turns text prompts into moving images. The results so far are impressive, with pirate ships being buffeted convincingly on the surface of a stormy cup of coffee and an astronaut who is well on this side of the uncanny valley being shown off by its creators.

“The model has a deep understanding of language, enabling it to accurately interpret prompts and generate compelling characters that express vibrant emotions. Sora can also create multiple shots within a single generated video that accurately persist characters and visual style”, a description on the OpenAI website explains. At first glance, this shift could raise concerns about the future of creativity and the important personal touch a skilled editor brings to the production process. However, as AI continues to advance, video editors will need to adapt by focusing on soft skills that are harder to replicate, such as creative storytelling, problem-solving and understanding the emotional impact of AI-generated visuals on the audience.

Developing skills in Artificial Intelligence Optimisation, the ability to write in a way that is understandable to both humans and machines, is imperative in the cultivation of strong written communication skills and to navigate the interplay between human cognition and machine intelligence.

Not only that, but the person entering the prompt having effective communication skills tailored to the specific AI tool they are using ultimately determines the quality of the output. Developing skills in Artificial Intelligence Optimisation, the ability to write in a way that is understandable to both humans and machines, is imperative in the cultivation of strong written communication skills and to navigate the interplay between human cognition and machine intelligence. By mastering the art of creating messages that resonate with audiences and optimising business communication strategies to bridge the gap between human and machine, creators can unlock new possibilities in using AI technology both effectively and ethically.

As well as the soft skill to use AI tools to complement creative work, good communication teams will need to keep up with the latest legislation and regulations relating to the application of AI and its output. On the heels of a landmark AI copyright ruling in the US last year, the EU AI Act is expected to be released in the first half of 2024 and is likely to include hefty fines for companies that breach its rules. Significantly for content creators, one of the requirements labelling content that is wholly created by generative AI as such. The key word here being ‘wholly,' clearly defining where AI will sit in the future of content creation, as a prompter and a tool; not as a replacement but an accompaniment. The communication teams which embrace new technology while staying informed on the legal and ethical constraints it presents will offer the most value to their clients. Those who find equilibrium between human creativity and the efficiencies offered by AI will benefit most.

To be fit for purpose today, a good communication team will need to be multidisciplinary and agile, including roles for videographers, animators, creative technology experts, AI-enabled SEO experts, UX designers, social media experts and writers, among others – covering essential verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

The future of search

Not only will the way content is created change but so will the way people find it or, perhaps more accurately, how it is found for them. AI is set to profoundly change how users search the internet, with greater AI-powered personalisation and innovations such as Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), which can interpret nuances in verbal communication much more accurately than currently, meaning people can use more informal, conversational language and expect to receive more accurate search results. This transcends the current capabilities of AI-driven voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.

Users are not confined to only words for search, of course, and the use of visual search is also set to expand at pace as AI becomes more intuitive. AI-informed search results are going to be more tailored and personalised for each user, and their likes and dislikes, than ever before, as these new engines trawl our search histories and online behaviours for patterns and preferences. For users, this improves their experience and allows them to find the information, product or service they need quickly and easily. For companies which are already contending with algorithm changes and an online space flooded with content, however, not optimising their content strategy for this new reality risks them losing significant traffic and, ultimately, revenue. An effective communication team today will keep up to date with, and integrate into their work, the latest changes in search engine ranking.

Algorithm changes and the power of AI to understand the context of a search term and the user's motivations for using it means that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will shift further towards optimising for relevance and capturing each person's individual preferences. Strategically placing keywords will remain important, but it is no longer enough to keyword stuff a piece and expect a good search engine ranking, creativity in written communication and a deep understanding of the audience is how content will stand out from the crowd on increasingly flooded online platforms. In this landscape, non-verbal communication skills such as active listening skills, emotional intelligence and other interpersonal skills take on more significance, especially as businesses compete against solely AI-generated content and try to stand out in a saturated online space.

Initially, when AI emerged, there were valid concerns about the potential of low-quality content flooding platforms. However, it has become increasingly evident that the significance of content quality is paramount, now more than ever, and search is likely to focus more and more on quality over quantity as AI becomes more intuitive. This shift is particularly important considering search engines evolving to prioritise relevance and the overall quality of the content presented to users, above keyword density or other metrics.

Strong communication today

As communication teams navigate the evolving digital landscape, the integration of AI brings both opportunities and challenges. With technology reshaping the way content is created and consumed, good communicators must adapt and embrace AI as a tool for innovation, while upholding the principles of effective communication. The interplay between human creativity and machine intelligence presents new opportunities for engaging audiences and delivering impactful messages across various platforms.

Benefitting from this intersection requires a proactive approach and staying informed of the latest technological advancements, understanding the legal frameworks that govern AI utilisation in communication and being tuned-in to the ever-evolving preferences of audiences. By cultivating this awareness and readiness to embrace change, communication teams position themselves to not just survive but thrive in the constantly advancing landscape of digital communication.

Far from AI negating the need for exclusively human traits such as emotional intelligence, empathy, interpersonal skills and listening skills in the creative process, its advancement make these more important than ever as the explosion in AI-generated content will mean quality matters more to users/customers, search engines, and for the companies vying for rankings and traffic. Those teams with good communication skills that engage impactfully with diverse audiences with shifting demands, as well as the technical knowledge to take advantage of AI's opportunities, are set to be most effective in today’s ever-evolving online space.

To find out how the right combination of AI and communication skills can support your next campaign, email hello@wardour.co.uk.

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