Listen to this episode to learn:  

  • How AI technology is transforming the landscape of IC 
  • Opportunities to enhance internal communication strategies. 
  • Tips on bridging comms gaps with AI powered tools 
  • Leveraging AI for data analytics and driving meaningful insights 
  • Ethical considerations and potential risks when incorporating AI into IC strategies 
  • Why IC pros must embrace AI, take the lead, and explore its possibilities
  • And much more!

Hosted by Julie Ford.


About the Speakers

Untitled design (2)




Adrian Cropley
Founding Director
Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence

“We're in transformation right at this moment, and everybody is now grappling to get their heads around AI and how it works. My fear is that internal communication professionals will do exactly what we did with the advent of social media. And that is, we kind of waited. It was coming along, and we sat back. We need to be at the forefront and exploring this technology, not fearing it, but exploring it. 

Julie Ford
Head of Content at Sparrow Connected

Julie Ford speaks with Adrian Cropley, a renowned strategic communication expert and founding director of the Center for Strategic Communication Excellence, on the intersection of internal comms and artificial intelligence. Adrian shares his profound insights on the rapid advancement of AI technology and the importance of equipping IC professionals with the necessary tools and strategies to harness its potential. 



Julie Ford 00:01

Welcome to the IC Connected or icon podcast. This podcast will challenge conventional thinking about internal communications. It will force you to think differently. Consider bold ideas and step outside your comfort zone through real unscripted insights from some of the best internal comms pros and subject matter experts in the world. But most importantly, this podcast will help you elevate your career, and together will elevate the internal comms profession to the C suite. Welcome to the ICON Podcast.  

Today I'm speaking with Adrian Cropley about how internal communications professionals can navigate the world of artificial intelligence. As a certified Strategic Communication Management Professional and founding director of the Center for Strategic Communication Excellence. Adrian Cropley OAM is an award-winning and in demand trainer and consultant in strategic communication. With a career spanning over 30 years, Adrian was a pioneer in internal communication, and has worked with clients all over the world, including fortune 500 companies on major internal communication initiatives. Now, spending his time running major training and development programs as well as coaching company executives in strategic communication. Thanks so much for joining me today, Adrian. 

Adrian Cropley 1:13 

Julie, it's great to be with you. And it's so early for me. 

Julie Ford 1:18 

And I'm just wrapping up my day here in Toronto. 

Adrian Cropley 1:23 
But it's great to be connecting right across the world. Right? 

Julie Ford 1:25 

Absolutely. It is such a pleasure. So, I just wanted to ask you a few questions as you've been sort of following AI trends for at least a few years now. Even before AI was a common buzzword in our vocabulary. As the founding director of the Center for Strategic Communication Excellence, how do you see AI technology transforming the landscape of internal communications? 


Adrian Cropley 1:53 

It's really interesting, Julie, because it has been transforming the way that we do our internal communication for a little while now. Back in 2018, at the Center for Strategic Communication Excellence we produced our first report on AI and looked at the trends and what people were doing within organizations when it came to using or looking at AI. And it was interesting, because only about 11% of internal comms professionals or communication professionals across the board were actively looking into AI. And that didn't change too much when we did the 2019 report. And then we turned that report into a playbook for communication professionals. But it showed that people were stepping into it, becoming aware of AI, but weren't actively using the tools right then.  

But we've got to think about the fact that tools were only just coming into the market and things like Grammarly was introducing AI, and we had a few of the chat bots that were starting to develop out there. But now we've just done this huge leap. And it's truly transforming the landscape of internal communication now. So, it's really the game changer that can revolutionize organization, communication with employees.  

So, things like enabling automation, data analysis and personalization are going to a whole new level with AI. And it can streamline information flow. It'll give us valuable insights into real time. And creating engaging experience was important for employees. So, looking at the research that we did, only a few three years ago, to where we are now, it's just and you'll notice from the beginning of this year, it's just gone hyperactivity in the realm of AI. 


Julie Ford 4:02 

Absolutely, yeah, it's way more accessible now. And I feel like since early 2023, it's just been an explosion of AI to us. 


Adrian Cropley 4:13 
And it's almost as if AI has just arrived. But you know, we've seen this coming for a while. And I think you know, now it is here, we've got this. We're in transformation right at this moment, and everybody's now grappling to get their heads around AI and how it works. I mean, my fear is that internal communication professionals will do exactly what we did with the advent of social media. And that is, we kind of waited, it was coming along, and we sat back. We need to be at the forefront and exploring this technology, not fearing it, but exploring it. 


Julie Ford 4:51 

Yeah. It would be interesting to see if you did that survey again in 2023. What the result would be? 


Adrian Cropley 4:58 
Absolutely, I am sure it would be quantum within a very short time.

Julie Ford 5:03 
Yeah, exactly. You've alluded to a couple opportunities just a few minutes ago. But, wondering if you can dive a little bit more deeply into some of the key opportunities that AI presents for internal communications professionals to enhance the strategies within their organizations. 


Adrian Cropley 5:24 

Looking at this from a strategic point of view, I think the opportunities that AI presents for enhancing internal communication strategies are remarkable. We've got the chance to automate content creation, personalized messaging, and doing things like utilizing sentiment analysis to gauge employee emotions. So, certainly with AI powered chatbots, now providing instant support for employees. And having data driven decision making helps us become more accurate and effective in our communication.  

These opportunities empower organization to develop targeted messages, foster collaboration, and really connect with employees at a much deeper level, because the insights that we're going to gain from employees, their needs, their wants, will help us align strategically, to what employees need. So, I think there's some powerful opportunities for organizations to connect with their employees at a different level. And let's face it, we're putting communication in the hands of everyone within the organization. And we've been saying this for a while and internal communication is, we're not about taking the messages and running with the messages and managing communication within the organization, were much more than facilitator of communication within the organization.  

So, it's really about putting communication in the hands of everyone. And we're giving them the tools to be efficient, we're just supporting them with that and making sure that the right things are being done, that we're checking off on the facts, the data, we're not putting out misinformation, because let’s face it, the AI tools now, is trolling stuff from the web. And we've got to make sure that it's got accurate information. But I think that becomes a little bit easier when we've got content ring circled within organizations and so on. Right now, it's a lot of that and AI is in the public domain. So, we're pulling data from sources that, we have to put some questions around, is it credible sources, etc.? 


Julie Ford 7:52 

Yeah, absolutely. It still requires that human touch, right? Especially when pulling data and facts and referring to sources. And even in terms of tone, I know, in my own day to day, I'm constantly using AI to generate content, but something is missing. So, it really needs that human review and the human touch in order to make sure it's accurate, but also that it doesn't seem flat. 


Adrian Cropley 8:24 

It's really interesting, because I've had a couple of questions just recently about the style in which AI can generate content and having that human touch, it doesn't sound like me, and all those types of questions. And it's interesting to see that the developers within AI are constantly refining the AI to change things like tone and expression and so on. I noticed that it was just recently augmented. AI is really looking at learning your style, learning the way that you speak, the way that you express, and then trying to mirror it. So, you're giving it a lot of you, you're putting a lot of your content and how you express things. And it's getting closer to your style, but it's never going to take over the way that you think it can't, it can't really think for you. But what it can do is make the process of developing things like content much more efficient. 

Julie Ford 9:34 
Yeah, absolutely. And it is improving. I'm getting invites to webinars literally every day about how to, 10 prompts to generate the best content from AI, it's just there's so much now there's so much education and so many different tools evolving and trying to teach us how to prompt these bots. Really to get the best output, it is fascinating. And I really think there's just so much opportunity for our internal comms to harness this, and really increase efficiency. On that note, do you have any examples of successful AI implementations that you've seen, and internal communications, specifically that have generated improved employee engagement and productivity. 


Adrian Cropley 10:25 

Searching for companies that have implemented and getting the outcomes that it's hard to find the actual case studies around it. But what you're starting to see is some tangible examples of how AI is making organizations or particularly internal comms much more efficient. For instance, again, around Chatbot, they're really revolutionized employee support by providing things like instant and accurate responses to inquiries. Things like sentiment analysis have helped organizations understand employee sentiments, allowing them to address concerns and improve morale.  

Additionally, automated content generation has ensured personalized newsletters and updates leading to higher engagement and productivity amongst employees. So, we were seeing samples of old examples of AI like descriptor, for instance, where you're putting video and the transcript comes straight out of that video. And that's not a new concept. But what we're seeing now is the script that's coming out, then you can edit and refine those videos to get the message across, quite seamlessly, is engaging to employees, but again, is putting that in the hands of the content creators, which is not just to the internal comms team, it's about putting that in the hands of employees, which means you've got that engagement with employees that are actually taking part in the communication itself.  

And then we've got was the one I was looking at the other day soundbite where you've got video content, you get the transcript, and that breaks it up into the social media posts, blog posts. So, you've instantly created that content. And we make it real to employees. We're starting to see that engagement now. And we're tailoring and targeting our communication to the specific user. And I think that's where we're going to get the power out of productivity within the organization. But truly that engagement level is going up. So, I think it becomes a powerful tool for employees, because we're speaking to them on their terms. 


Julie Ford 13:00 

Right? Yeah. In terms of video content, or even graphic content, if you can create that in minutes, because you know that a segment of your workforce is really interested in consuming content, through video or visual formats. That's a game changer. Absolutely. Because you can spend or in the past before these AI tools, producing a video could take a long time. By the time you produce it, it's old news. Now, it's instant. 


Adrian Cropley 13:32 

Think about the first video I ever did way back in my first internal comms job. It was a chore; it was a marathon. And we had to get the film crew in and there were at least three or four people on the food film crew. We had numbers of takes the editing process took days, it was nuts. When you think about how quickly we can do that now and get it out. But you know, we've also got to balance that with the amount of over communication that we're getting out there as well. 

Julie Ford 14:07 

That's a good segue into the next question I have for you. In what ways can AI powered tools and platforms help organizations overcome common challenges, like information overload or communication gaps? 


Adrian Cropley 14:20 

Yeah, I think that as much of it as seeing these, the AI powered tools and platforms being the superheroes that organizations need to overcome those common communication challenges. They can also tackle the information overload by filtering and delivering the relevant content to employees. What we've got to look at is how we get the content that truly matters to the specific employees.  

AI is going to start bridging the gap between communication with things like automated notification reminders, things like intelligent project management tools, and being able to ensure that seamless collaboration. If organizations truly look at him or leveraging AI tools in the organization, they can streamline communication and try and mitigate some of this overload. The thing that we really need to look at is not just how it can create tons of content, but how it can make the process of communication much more efficient, and much more relevant to the employees themselves.  

This is where the communication role is much more about the facilitator of communication in the organization. It's pinpointing the right communications, and this is why we look at it from a strategic point of view. Just because we can do it doesn't necessarily mean we should. We need to kind of navigate how much how much goes out there. Let's look at it from an efficiency point of view, not just another way of generating a ton of content that we're throwing out there. The marketers are going to do that in the marketplace, we don't need to be doing it in our organizations. 


Julie Ford 16:20 

Yeah, I can see now that you can create content quickly, you can create more content, but like you're saying, that doesn't mean that you should write, it's got to be strategic, it's got to make sense for the audience. It's got to be personalized, targeted, because that's not helping us solve the information overload problem at all. 


Adrian Cropley 16:43 

Not at all. And what we also will see is, this is just going to be a natural thing, as everybody is now exploring AI, we're getting really carried away with it. I mean, I'm doing the same, I'm kind of getting out there and I'm exploring, I'm producing stuff, right. But it doesn't mean I need to be sending that stuff out, let it make me efficient to be more tailored to the audience, so that I can hit the mark. But we're going to see an increase in the amount of stuff that is out there, before we start seeing that kind of bid down within the organization and become much more about an efficiency tool. 

Julie Ford 17:27 

Yeah, exactly. On that note, how do you recommend that organizations strike a good balance between AI automation and maintaining a personal touch in their internal comms? 2 


Adrian Cropley 17:38 

That’s most important is that we do look at this as the personal touch, and that's the frame of mind that we need to have. Organizations should be able to view AI as an enabler rather than a replacement for human interaction. So, by leveraging things like AI for tasks, data analysis, and content distribution, what we can do is free up some time for personalized meaningful interactions with employees. It's crucial to maintain a human connection, I think, empathy and engagement while we are utilizing AI. And I think that's where we really need to get to - in striking that balance is what is our role in continually creating connections while using the efficiency of AI as a tool in the background. 


Julie Ford 18:34 

Right. Because in the end, we're still humans communicating with humans. That's a topic that I explored with another podcast guests, which was interesting. We must make sure that we're talking to humans and remember that these are people with lives outside of work. And it's complicated, right? Can't lose sight of that. 


Adrian Cropley 18:57 

I have a feeling the more that our employees see that technology is driving communication, what we're looking for is the human touch, the human connection. People with people and I know, when we talk about leadership and leadership development in the center, we talk very much in terms of emotional intelligence as the core skill of the future, because people are wanting to have much more human connection than they've ever had before. 


Julie Ford 19:32 
Yeah, it's interesting, because we're leveraging robots more and more, but all we want is more human connection. It's an interesting thing to think about. 


Adrian Cropley 19:47 

There's almost a theory - the robots are coming, run for your life. We need to embrace that they're not going to take over relationships. We're just going to make our life a whole lot more efficient, easier. 

Julie Ford 20:00 

You mentioned analysis a couple of minutes ago. I want to dig into that a little bit more. What role do you think data analytics play in leveraging AI for internal communications? And how do you think organizations can effectively utilize that data to drive meaningful insights and decision making? 


Adrian Cropley 20:20 

Yeah, data analytics really empowers organizations to gain insight, employee preference, engagement levels and sentiment. By effectively utilizing that data, organizations can then personalize communication, identify areas for improvement. It's about making informed decisions. I think data analytics serves as the backbone of AI allowing organizations to derive meaningful insights that drive communication strategies. But it also fosters a more impactful experience for employees, if we take that data driven approach, because it really is about insight. The big divide is, data analytics provides insight, we use the insight to then drive the experience for employees. And that's going to be critical for the role of communication moving forward. 


Julie Ford 21:26 

Yeah, and on that note, one thing I've been hearing quite a bit is about, you know, you can have all the data and the world, but if you don't understand and tell the story of that data, it's not really going to help you. 2 


Adrian Cropley 21:43 

Right. Not interpreting it, it's understanding of them. It's what is it telling us when it comes to experience of employees, right, 


Julie Ford 21:50 

And AI can help put us in the right direction and help sort of start to tell that story. But it doesn't know every single thing about your workforce, it doesn't know all the unique dynamics of any workforce. Right? You've got to take that insight and tell the story that's right for your organization and your workforce based on what the AI is telling you. 


Adrian Cropley 22:17 

It reinforces the thing of how much we need to understand about our employees. AI is not going to understand love and relationships and the highs and lows of people's lives, right? Not just at the moment. 


Julie Ford 22:40 

That's a good segue to ethics. So, the ethics of AI. It's a big topic. Are there any specific ethical considerations or potential risks that organizations should be mindful of when they're incorporating AI into their strategies? 


Adrian Cropley 23:01 

I think ethics is a considerable risk. We've been talking about the role of ethics in internal communication for a number of years, and that we need to play a much more active role. And I have to say, quite frankly, I'm not seeing it develop more. So internal communications, I think as of now is going to be faced with all the ethical dilemmas that AI come will bring to the surface. You know, if I think about things like bias that's out there, misinformation, and when AI is getting that information and brings it forward to, you now, there's statements in things like ChatGPT that says, look, the information may not always be correct, or it may make things up. 

I'm already hearing from a lot of people as geez, it makes up an awful lot of stuff. Now, how many people are going to trust the stuff that makes up and puts it out there just blindly, because it's easy to do? Or are the people going to take time to do some research and understand and do the data checking and the fact checking when it comes to AI?  

There's a bigger role in ethics, the good and the sad, sad reality. It's as every new tool or new technology comes onto the market. The first people to get it are the scammers. The first people that you know, the second people are the marketers because they see the benefits of it. But when you've got a whole suite of people that are out there, permeating misinformation, and worse disinformation. Then we are vulnerable as an organization to that. And the last thing we want to do is lose credibility with our employees by having that out there. So, I think there's a big role.  

And, the biggest role for internal communication professionals is being the sanity check for people within the organization that has the temptation to use AI ignorantly. So, I think there's going to be a growing role, in fact, one of the roles with an employee communication is going to become a key role in organizations. It's just because we can and it's easy to do, should we? 

Julie Ford 25:40 

Yeah, always a good question to ask. It does remind me of when social media started to become popular for B2B. And how you've now got social media out there, you've got employees on social media, publishing things that you kind of lose control of as an employer. And very quickly, there were social media policies. So, you can and can't post this. Or don't post pictures of yourself on Saturday night at the club, you know, some things that seem common sense, but there are policies for this. Do you see that as being something that internal communication should take the lead on? 


Adrian Cropley 26:23 

Absolutely 100%. Internal communications should take the lead in this one. I personally am going to be a little bit edgy here. We, as internal communication professionals missed the boat when it came to social media. I remember when social media first came about, and sadly, I can date myself, I remember when the internet first came about, and the similar conversations there. But I'm trying not to date myself too much. But the reality is, when social media came about, we were, in general, there was always some early adopters and pioneers that get out there and start understanding the technology, its implications, and therefore, one of the considerations from an ethical standpoint, but largely, we missed the boat.  

And if you think about social media, and its negative impacts, not just the positive impacts it has had on society, where it's just become a broad fist on things like Twitter these days, and whatever else. And it's because people felt that because it's available, I can do and say anything, right. So, the filters went out but what we didn't put in place is things like decency codes, and the rights and wrongs with social media early. So, kind of the gate was open, the horse bolted with social media, I think we have to take a much more active role as internal communication professionals in starting to develop those policies, those guidelines, certainly from an educational point of view. But also, I think there has to be a governance point of view around this one as well, where we're starting to say what is right, what shouldn't be done within an organization?  

I've seen government organizations straightaway actually go AI is banned from the organization. It's a risk, absolutely, it's a risk of information getting out into the public domain. However, what we've got to be able to do is say, hang on, we just can't go black and white, let Ban this and not have it, it's here. It's how do we work within a frame of having AI, its implications, but codes of conduct and how to utilize, when to utilize, what to check, all those things must come out as policies and procedures. 


Julie Ford 29:06 

Absolutely. Yeah. This is an opportunity for internal communications to shine and a leadership opportunity for internal comms. Like you said, the opportunity wasn't taken with social media, but here's a good opportunity for anyone who wants to take a big step and potentially elevate their careers by reading something like a policy on AI in the organization.  


Adrian Cropley 29:33 

Yeah, and it's really about looking at the role of internal communication, because content, content creation and distribution is going into the hands of the user, but that strategic advice, the strict strategy on what you are trying to achieve, has to come from the community, the internal communication professional and the roles like policy, the roles of governance of communication are all roles that really need to progress. 

AI Technology and Remote Work: Enhancing IC and Collaboration 


Julie Ford 30:08 

Absolutely. So how do you see AI technology supporting remote work and distributed teams, especially in the context of internal communications and collaboration? 


Adrian Cropley 30:19 

Distributed teams have always been a challenge for internal communication. I know organizations that we've worked with, mining organizations, and so on where frontline employees are always going to be hard to reach. But I think AI can play a vital role in creating effective communication and collaboration. Things like virtual assistants, providing instant support, so at the time, that's convenient for those employees.  

In location, we've got mobile technology, that's great. There's still jobs employees have, where they can't use their mobile devices in the workplace, and so on. But I think we've got this blurred lines, where if you can do things quickly, efficiently get the information you need that's tailored to you when you need it, I think AI will play a real vital role for those employees because it's acting with the time that they do get to interact with technology. I think facilitating some of those, those tasks that managers complete with remote teams, that we use the example of video before, I thought that was a good one where we're putting communication instantly in the hands of managers.  

So, things like safety updates, and so on, when they've got a distributed team, they can do it on the spot and distribute without a whole series of actions they have today or editing processes or checking it off with the internal comms. We're putting the technology; the device is in the hands of managers that then can get it to teams in in kind of real time. And that's the revolutionary steps that we can see with those distributed teams. 


Julie Ford 32:17 

Yeah, getting the right information to people at the right time. Because with distributed teams, that's always the biggest challenge. If we can leverage AI to do that, that's absolutely a great opportunity for internal communications. 

Adrian Cropley 32:34 

It's a real challenge. But also where we've got the devices that can be used, when you've got a managers face, video that's coming across, as giving that update and looks confident and gives you the key messages that you need in a very snappy video, in fact, they're going to edit it on their phone, before they put it out there. They've got a lovely tool, that's going to make it in a very snappy update key points, and it's going to get to the employees, but they're seeing the face of the manager and that interaction.  

Julie Ford 33:10 

Almost replicating that in person experience. But it is a lot more efficient than having everybody come into the office for a face-to-face meeting. Now, everybody's just so comfortable being remote. This is a good way for managers to deliver that into just similar, just as engaging experience, but, in a more efficient way. So that's a great suggestion. I'm carrying on from that, do you have any advice that you would give organizations that are just starting to explore the possibilities of AI and internal communications? 


Adrian Cropley 33:47 

Absolutely. I'm going to go back to the surveys we did in 2018, 2019. There was advice that we gave them, and I would give the same advice. And it's very much around, getting in there and starting to play with that technology. As internal communication professionals and organizations, we need to get in there and explore, play and see how this can better our life. How can we become much more efficient? What processes can we use with AI? We need to be just like social media have, you know 20 to 25 years ago. Explore, understand it, have a play with it, because we need to carve out that time.  

My fear is that we are never quiet in the role of internal communications. We're always the stretched resource within an organization. And there is an expectation from organizations that intercoms will do everything when it comes to communication. I think we've got to step back a little bit and say hang on, we need to carve out some time that we are spending exploring these tools.  

It's great from a consulting side, you hear a lot of the internal comms consultants and so on, are the ones exploring this and then sharing that information. That's great. But I think the practitioners themselves, the people that work within organizations, and internal comms must get out there and start exploring this. And that would be my biggest piece of advice, and not have the fear. We people go, I don't understand that there's others that are experts in it, and therefore I don't feel confident to talk about it or explore. What we need to do is go. We're all coming from the same base, this is new. And what we need to do is get out there and collectively share our experiences, because the lived experiences are better than the marketing experiences. This tool will do all these things for you. 

I was speaking to a colleague the other day, and one of the things that we were talking about is the fact that quite often technology companies build this stuff and say, hey, this is going to do all these wonderful things. But it's not until you start using it. You say, is this as wonderful as you're making out that it is? And does this practically solve my issues from an internal comms point of view? Is it something I can practically use?  

What we need is the internal comms professionals that are saying, hey, I tried this, and I did that. And I'm starting to see that, on LinkedIn as people are going, hey, I tried this tool the other day, but I think there's a lot of people that are scared to go, well, do I look like I'm dumb, or I'm behind the ball, because I haven't played with it. We just need to be careful that the pioneers and early adopters of technology, and not intentionally, but making it intimidating for those people that are maybe adopting a little bit later. We just must have a better narrative, a bit of conversation around AI, and the actual usage of those tools from a lived experience point of view.

Julie Ford 37:21 

Yeah, that's a good point about supporting each other.  


Adrian Cropley 37:27 

Think about when social media first came about, and we saw people that got in there early with the pioneers of new roles that social media started bringing to the organization. We wouldn't have even thought of the social media manager for an organization earlier in the piece. And then we started carving out these new roles. And we're seeing that already in AI, where you've got your AI communication specialist role that's coming out. So again, the early adopters that are going right, embracing this, and organizations are already going, I need an employee communications manager with AI experience, it's already being asked for. 


Julie Ford 38:18 

Absolutely, yeah. Even then. That's fair. Connected on the content team. That's now part of the job description when we're looking for content specialists, must be experienced with AI, or at least open to embracing AI and figuring AI in terms of producing content. So absolutely. And it's becoming already. I feel like we were talking earlier, AI just really boomed a few months ago, and here we are, it's already being woven into job descriptions. So, new roles. 


Adrian Cropley 38:54 

A humble crowd in internal communications, there's not going to be too many people to go “I'm an AI expert.” It's weird. So far from that realm. Right now, the experts in AI are the techies. It's technology. What we must do is look at roles within internal communication that we might be looking at in the future.  

I was talking to a dear friend who works at one of the big banks here in Australia. And they've said that there's a switch that's gone on where the organization's having these conversations around AI. She's been invited to the table as the internal comms specialist to say, what is it that we need to start looking at from some of these roles with internal communication of the future? And it's funny, we talked about things like obviously AI specialist, it's like, I've got that bent and understanding AI and how it can be used for internal comms. But what about roles like that? Data storyteller, somebody that really is looking at the analytics and the data that's coming in? Because it's great, we can collect it. But what are we doing with it?  

The ethics consultant I see as a role that's going to grow within AI. The professional that's looking at the ethics around AI, and the message and the data that we're using and how we're collecting the data. And should we be collecting the data of people's personal stuff? Virtual reality experience, manager or specialist or designer, even?  

Because that's a technology we're starting to use, we're going to see much more enhanced roles with things like social media. But you know, AI, what would I call them? Ai language generation. With AI, the whole thing now is about how we explain what we want to get out of it. It's very different to search terms on the internet, it's creating, what the instruction that we need to give AI to give you the information that that you need.  

And I think that's a skill set. So, do we start seeing specialist roles in that one as well? It's opening a whole new world, it's an exciting new world, to be perfectly honest. But there's going to be fear in this one and people feeling that they're inadequate or falling behind. And I don't think people should, I think we're all going to keep having to learn together. So that we do so very well. And internal comms is so critically important. 

Julie Ford 41:47 

So important. And that's part of the reason why I wanted to have this conversation with you about AI. There were probably five other topics we could explore. But I was like, no, we need to do the AI topics, so that we can start to share some of your knowledge on AI, with the industry. You talked about trends and advancements you see in roles and job titles. Are there any other trends that you foresee happening as a result of AI? 


Adrian Cropley 42:18 

We're all always seeing new trends come along. To me, I think it really is about navigating the use of AI within an organization. We're going to go into a period now where internal communication professionals are really going to start amping up what they are experiencing, looking into testing and playing with the rise of relationships. As I said before, one of the skills for managers is emotional intelligence, I think that's going to be a skill that is going to be looked at across organizations.  

Obviously, the role of training and development is going to change significantly, because there's going to be a huge demand for people to understand how to use the technology as much as it's very much self-explanatory, and people are getting in there and playing with it. I think using tools more efficiently, there's going to be a role for that. And let's face it, internal comms is going to play a great role in supporting people where communication is going in the hands of employees.  

I am using an example around that, I remember working with Unilever some years ago, and they did a lot of training of frontline managers and frontline employees on how to navigate things like social media and how to post and how to have conversations. They were putting the skills of social media in the hands of employees rather than it coming through the communication department, or it's going to the Social Media Manager, because they've got such a big customer base and a public base that's interacting with the organization, they really needed that experience in the hands of hands of their employees. I think it's going to be the same for AI, where we're training people on the use of and again, incorporating some of those things, likely ethics, around this. There's going to be a trend for much more of that training and development role for internal communication professionals. 


Julie Ford 44:47 

Yeah, absolutely could see that. You've shared so much valuable information and your history, not only being like a pioneer and an internal comms and now also sharing what you heard from your research from 2019. It's all been incredibly valuable. Do you have any final thoughts or advice that you want to leave the audience with? 


Adrian Cropley 45:09 

Yeah, this there's one or two things I'd like to say. I'm reflecting on what you just said, because I have been around internal communication for so many years, you're looking at this, and you've got a whole new technological wave coming at her. With AI, it would be easy, certainly for people like me, and my demographic is going, I can't do another one, I have done internet, social media. Now we're on to AI. But stepping into this, and getting confidence is what people need to do. Don't push it back, embrace it, and explore it. And that would be my biggest piece of advice to everyone.  

It doesn't matter which age or demographic you are. Get it there and explore it and test it out and try it. But most importantly, share. I think as a profession, we need to absolutely share our insights. Because we're all navigating a new territory route right now with AI. And even though we've seen this coming, certainly this year has been AI has arrived. It's no longer that the bots are coming, the bots are here. We need to embrace it. They don't take human form right now. But that's not too far away. 


Julie Ford 46:39 

But it's here to stay. It's definitely here to stay. 


Adrian Cropley 46:42 

It's definitely here to stay. And I can show you one of the biggest expressions I remember hearing when social media came about. And I may have said it myself at one stage. Oh, it's a fad. just fizzle. People play with it, and it'll disappear. No, I think we need to learn from it. It's not a fad. And getting in early, not to control it. But understanding this so that we can advise better is exactly what we need to do as internal communication professionals. 


Julie Ford 47:17 
I absolutely agree. And at Sparrow Connected, we're focused on helping elevate internal communications professionals. And this is a huge opportunity for internal comms to band together, step up, take a lead on this new era of AI that we're now entering. And that could really help take the profession to another level and sort of get that more strategic credibility across the organization. Great opportunity to embrace AI here for internal comms professionals.  


So, thank you so much for joining me today. Adrian, it's been such a pleasure speaking with you. Just wanted to leave our audience with information on how to get in touch with you. LinkedIn, your website, if you don't mind. Just share your contact details. That would be excellent. 


Adrian Cropley 48:09 

Yeah. Thanks, Julie. People can get in contact, just go to the Center for Strategic Communication Excellent, that’s CSC.com. Or check me out on LinkedIn, Adrian Cropley. Please connect with me on LinkedIn and love for people to be in touch. 


Julie Ford 48:30 

Awesome. All right. Well, thank you so much. We'll talk to you again soon. 


Adrian Cropley 48:33 
Thanks so much, Julie. 


Julie Ford 48:35 

Thanks for listening to the ICON podcast. This podcast has been brought to you by Sparrow Connected. Head over to sparrowconnected.com to learn more about the internal comms platform that is elevating the internal comms profession. And be sure to follow #weleadcomms on LinkedIn. If you liked this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast channels and tune in for the next episode. 


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