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Mastering the cognitive revolution: How AI and brand strategy combine for business growth

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Public Relations

Concerns among Americans about AI continue to grow. More than half of Americans (52 percent) say they feel more concerned than excited about the increased use of artificial intelligence. The number concerned about AI in daily life has increased by 14 percentage points since December 2022. Tools like ChatGPT and its counterparts are revolutionizing how we interact with technology, promising a better future. 

However, amidst the optimism, concerns linger about the potential dark side of AI, particularly its ability to shape public opinion. Karla Jo Helms, founder of JOTO PR Disruptors, as well as chief evangelist and anti-PR strategist, emphasizes the need for businesses and communication teams to adapt to the increasing influence of AI. “Organizations can successfully navigate the AI-driven era by learning the codified body of knowledge that controls public opinion, understanding algorithms, and developing strong communication strategies,” she says, in a news release. 

cognitive revolution

There is an opportunity for a strategic approach in response to the potential risks posed by AI. Rather than perceiving AI as an enemy, businesses can positively harness its power to shape brand awareness and strategy. “This is the age of really learning the skills of guiding and controlling public opinion so that your company can safely expand,” says Helms. “You have to be consistent and very proactive and understand the media algorithm if you want to stay on top and compete.” She stresses the importance of openness, transparency, and thought leadership in navigating the AI-driven landscape. 

Disruptive communication strategies

The call to action is clear: Businesses must step up their game on thought leadership and communicating via third-party credibility channels. The influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to approximately $24 billion by the end of this year, with 55 percent of brands planning to use AI for influence identification and 63 percent using AI to execute their influencer campaigns.

While the public may be concerned, CEOs are more optimistic. Almost half (49 percent) believe that “most” or “all” of their job should be completely automated or replaced by AI. Despite this, questions remain about the potential for deception AI offers bad actors. What if AI could analyze all your online interactions and, at a precise moment, send a message that reshapes your worldview? This question raises a critical concern about AI’s power over our thoughts and opinions, potentially steering them in unforeseen directions. 

To combat this, brands must not only emphasize that AI should be used as a tool to enhance human capabilities rather than replace them, but they should also communicate their commitment to maintaining a human-centric approach to technology adoption. Fabricated news and misinformation are not new phenomena but the ease at which social media can be manipulated by AI to steer public opinion is. Combatting this requires not only education but also new ways to detect this kind of abuse

Mastering knowledge, algorithms, and communication

To address the overuse of AI within the framework of disruptive technologies, businesses can employ effective communication strategies, such as: 

  • Master the codified body of knowledge of public opinion: Helms emphasizes the importance of businesses mastering the structured set of principles and facts that govern public opinion. This involves studying case studies, theories, and the history of public relations to understand what resonates with the public and how opinions are formed and swayed. By doing so, organizations can craft messages that are more likely to be received positively and spread widely. 
  • Understand algorithms: Another key piece of advice is for businesses to invest time in understanding the algorithms behind social media platforms, search engines and the media. This knowledge allows organizations to better predict and influence how their content is distributed and seen by their target audience. It’s about knowing the digital landscape and using that knowledge to ensure that their messages are amplified in the AI-driven era. 
  • Develop strong communication strategies: Finally, Helms advises organizations to develop robust communication strategies that are adaptable to the fast-paced changes in technology and public opinion. This includes being clear about their brand’s message, being consistent across all platforms, and being responsive to feedback from their audience(s). A strong communication strategy also involves crisis management planning to proactively fill the vacuum early on, and swiftly address any negative situations that could arise and mitigate potential damage to the brand’s reputation. 

Implementing these tips can help businesses leverage AI and public opinion to their advantage, ensuring they remain relevant and positively perceived in an increasingly digital world. 

Making AI work for you to build your brand

Understanding the principles of guiding and controlling public opinion enables businesses to take control of their brand narrative. AI should be viewed as a cognitive revolution, democratizing technology and empowering individuals to become better creators.  

Helms encourages businesses, leaders, and communication teams to wake up to the power of AI. “There’s way more businesses that can be using AI for good, way more of us than there are nefarious characters that use it for bad,” she shares.  

“Most businesses don’t think they can guide and control public opinion. But if you understand the principles of handling public opinion, you have the ability to manage your brand awareness, your brand strategy and what the public thinks of you,” Helms concludes. 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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