Understanding the nuanced and deepening interplay between artificial intelligence and the communications field has become a strategic necessity for practitioners and agencies. In a recent livestream, John Elsasser, Publications Director of Public Relations Society of America and host of the LinkedIn show Strategies & Tactics Live, spoke with Zoetica Media founder Kami Huyse about the continued importance of online community building and the dangers of sitting on the AI sidelines.
Online Community Building in the Early Days
Kami started blogging back in 2005, before the introduction of social media as we know it today. “I realized you could have a blog that wasn’t about your personal life – because I was not going to blog about my personal life, for a number of reasons,” says Kami. “I had just moved from Washington D.C. to San Antonio, Texas, and [so blogging] was a great way for me to keep in touch with a lot of people that I didn’t see day-to-day anymore.”
There’s nothing like being able to meet with people in person to build on a previous connection and get to know them on a deeper level. But “the problem is, there are only so many lunches, dinners, snacks you can have,” she notes. Blogging bridged that gap.
Growing Connections through Blogging
“At first, I just put a lot of stuff out there and I was afraid that people would know it was me,” she explains. She was taught that “if you’re a great public relations professional, you’re not going to be the story, you’re going to be behind the story.” As she found out, however, blogging is different because “you’re putting the story out there with your name on it.”
Initially uncomfortable about this new role she found herself in, “I realized then other people were also writing, so I spent a couple of hours every day going from blog to blog to blog and leaving really substantive comments on people’s blogs.” Seeing the continued success with her approach, she fine tuned it into the 2×2 method that she uses for herself and her clients to this day.
Her investment paid off since “pretty soon, after about six months of starting that, I ended up on a big ‘reply all’ email chain,” which was how things worked before the invention of messaging. To Kami, it was both exciting and an honor. “It was all these bloggers that I read every day and they’d added me.”
Engagement is an Underappreciated and Underutilized Skill
While most brands and companies understand the importance of clear messaging, an area they still often fall short in is engagement.
“That’s really one of the things that a lot of [them] just don’t do very well,” she says. “They don’t interact, they don’t engage, unless they’re engaging with someone who puts something on their post…. But they won’t go out and engage with other creators.”
Instead, they often focus on being on the newest or hottest platform, rather than focusing on what really matters. As Kami points out, platforms come and go, but engaging where your target audience or ideal clients are active is a better approach.
If there’s one thing she wants everyone to know, it's this: “Community is the ‘killer app’ because it outlasts all platforms.”
Unlocking the Power of Human-Centered AI
When it comes to artificial intelligence, it’s easy to get swept away by the bells and whistles of But, she explains, “I’m really practical. I like to look at what’s in front of me and how we can use it in our craft.”
Knowing how to use AI effectively is going to be necessary for every communications professional. “The way I look at AI is that it is inevitable….and the key for you as a communicator is to understand how it can enhance what you do, how it can be an underpinning to what you do, and not replace what you do.”
Rather than trying to find the best prompt, Kami advised focusing on finding the best method for using AI, which she calls a ‘recipe.’ It starts with the right ingredients, “and you need to understand how to put those ingredients together.” She likens AI to your sous-chef.
Familiarize Yourself with AI Tools
To harness the full power of AI in creating impactful strategies and valuable content for your clients and your business, Kami suggests experimenting with a variety of AI tools.
She recommends starting with these three:
• ChatGPT – An AI system that can serve both as an idea generator and an assistant content creator. ChatGPT 3 is available for free from OpenAI, with paid versions available.
• DALL-E – A text-to-image AI system that generates digital images from natural language descriptions. DALL-E is available for free from OpenAI, with paid versions available.
• Voilà – An AI-powered browser assistant all-in-one productivity tool. The free version gives users 250 free requests to test out.
To hear more insights and tips from Kami, head on over to LinkedIn and watch the entire Strategies & Tactics Live interview.