Using AI to personalize employee communications

Communicators can use tech for an increased human touch.

It doesn’t really make sense when you consider it on the surface — using generative AI (GAI) to add an increased human touch to your comms efforts? That seems like a paradox, but once you look a little deeper, it’s not all that far-fetched. In fact, AI can be a helpful personalization tool in your comms arsenal.

Artificial intelligence — with a human influence

AI alone isn’t going to help you do much — it’s what you give it as input that unlocks its power. According to Megan DiSciullo, U.S. and Mexico communications leader for PwC, communicators with an in-depth understanding of their organization’s business functions and structure are in a prime position to use GAI to their advantage, and with an exceptional pace to boot.

“By leveraging GAI technology, we can more effectively reach specific employee personas in an efficient and targeted manner with much more speed than we could in the past,” DiSciullo said.

In a comms world with so much noise, personalization is a big key to breaking through to the audience. AI isn’t some magic wand that’ll make that happen, but it can help scale it properly and prove a major help for big companies and small comms teams.

“With GenAI tools, we can input our knowledge around the persona of an employee audience alongside the key messages, allowing us to scale our insights and tailor them to different personas more efficiently than before,” she added. “This not only enables us to communicate with speed, but also provides us with a fresh perspective on how to position messages in ways that resonate and generate the greatest impact.”

What does AI have to say?

As a thought experiment, we decided to ask the most famous generative AI program of all, ChatGPT, for its input on the situation. To start, we gave it the following prompt:

“How can I use ChatGPT to personalize my communications messages to different stakeholders and audience personas?”

Here’s the response we got:

That’s a fantastic idea! Personalizing your communication messages to different stakeholders and audience personas can significantly enhance engagement and connection. Here’s how you can utilize ChatGPT to help with this:

  1. Understanding Audience Personas: Start by creating detailed profiles of your different audience personas. Include information about their demographics, preferences, pain points, and interests. You can then use ChatGPT to simulate conversations with these personas, asking questions that help you understand them better. By doing this, you can get insights into how to tailor your messages for each group.

  2. Generating Personalized Content: Once you have a good grasp of your audience personas, you can use ChatGPT to generate personalized content. Provide the model with information about a specific persona, and then ask for suggestions or content ideas that would resonate well with that group. For instance, if you’re targeting tech-savvy millennials, you might ask for content ideas related to trending tech or social media.

  3. Creating Tailored Messages: ChatGPT can assist in crafting messages tailored to specific stakeholders or groups. Provide details about the stakeholders’ roles, their preferences, and any other relevant information. Then, ask the model to help you draft personalized messages. For instance, you might ask for suggestions on how to frame an email to a CEO versus a customer support representative.

  4. Optimizing Tone and Language: Different audiences may respond better to varying tones and language styles. Use ChatGPT to experiment with different tones – formal, casual, technical, etc. – and language that aligns with each persona. You can input sample messages and ask for suggestions on refining the tone or adjusting the language to better suit a particular audience.

  5. Feedback and Iteration: Engage in a continuous feedback loop. Test the messages generated by ChatGPT with your target audience and gather feedback. Use this feedback to refine your personas, improve messaging, and fine-tune your approach.

These tips suggest a trajectory that starts with developing personas but doesn’t end there. The tool’s advice on how to customize persona-specific prompts is especially valuable because it’s straight from the automated horse’s mouth, while these notes about tones and language offer you the opportunity to exercise your judgment, nuance and lived experiences as a communicator to make sure these messages resonate with humanity.

ChatGPT also gave us this great reminder:

Remember, while ChatGPT can assist in generating ideas and content, it’s crucial to review and adapt these suggestions to ensure they align with your brand voice, goals, and ethical considerations. Always keep your communications authentic and genuine, even as you leverage AI to personalize your messages.

Creating connections and the way forward 

The above advice underscores why GAI is only going to be effective when those who interact with it know how to use the tools. But it’s important to remember that with any powerful tool, responsible use is critical.

DiSciullo emphasized this and shared PwC has its own secure internal AI tool that assists in the creation of comms messaging while keeping proprietary data safe. The tool doesn’t just help with reaching people, but it frees up the comms team to meet PwC’s employees where they are and at the correct time.

In addition, comms pros need to know what information to feed into their AI programs in order to create the proper people-focused approach. That can come from inputting the right style guides, giving it information on inclusive language, and terminology that applies to specific personas.

Despite the power of this tech, it’s the communicator’s expertise that makes all the difference when creating persona-based comms with AI’s help.

“We cannot forget the role our professional judgment and experience or the knowledge of our people and purpose plays,” DiSciullo said. “At the end of the day, GAI is helping elevate our roles to editors and validators of content we want to push, so it’s our job to bring that humanity to the technology through every communication.”

Even as technology advances, there’s no replacement for the expertise and wisdom of a seasoned comms pro. It’s that deep organizational knowledge that’ll help communicators leverage AI to better reach given employee personas. It’s not a magic trick, it’s skill at work.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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