3 ways to fight AI fatigue and fails with real human smarts

Author: Trevor Ainge, Public Relations and Digital Media Specialist

Canned tuna, cream of chicken soup, and—in my house—cheddar cheese. Simple and ready in 30 minutes, a few ingredients form this Friday night classic: tuna fish casserole. It’s great for dinner, even a couple lunches. But by Monday it’s gone off. 

You might think tuna has diddly to do with PR. Yet countless brands are volleying the same shelf-stable, canned messaging into the ether without checking the sell-by date. The main ingredient? “Generative AI [insert industry jargon here].”

Something’s off. And investors, partners, and journalists are getting a whiff.

It’s not that the messaging is bad or misleading. It’s a factor of volume. In an attention economy driven by hype cycles, generative AI (GenAI) is contending with a fair bit of inflation. 

Looking at media relations specifically, journalists receive a daily deluge of emails from brands hanging their hats on GenAI with few additional claims. Industry-wide layoffs have created a media landscape with fewer journalists and more brands vying for their attention. Capturing it is more expensive—and riskier—than ever. 

Let’s dive into what we know about the GenAI conversation in the media, and three ways you can ensure your content contributes valuable, differentiated perspectives.

From hyped to heated: GenAI media volume by the numbers 

A factoid heard 7 times starts to sink in, by 700 it’s tuned out, and by the 7,000th skepticism sinks in: 

The GenAI messaging avalanche is larger than we’ve seen before, too. Let’s look at the metaverse in the media as a proxy hype cycle. Mentions of the metaverse peaked in February 2023, topping out at just above 170,000 mentions in the media that month alone. 

Now, let’s consider the messaging at hand, the ongoing generative AI frenzy that reached a fever pitch last November:

Putting aside their technological differences, notice the rift in the volume of messages entering the public consciousness for generative AI and the metaverse. When compared peak-to-peak, nearly 130,000 more generative AI than metaverse mentions peppered print and digital media, landing on front porches in the morning paper, plastered on corner store shelf front covers, and inbox subject lines. 

But we can sidestep the glut of GenAI with a dash of artificial intelligence or a pinch of the ever-conservative machine learning, right? Think again. That’s just tinned tuna masquerading as chicken-of-the-sea. 

Wordsmithing was waylaid by the onslaught of AI-focused content well before we rounded into the new year. Somewhat surprisingly, the use of the term artificial intelligence in media not only parallels the GenAI frenzy, it has been disproportionately amplified as the public’s colloquial definition of AI has become synonymous with generative AI. Semantics are a losing game in the court of public opinion. 

Messages riding on these poorly differentiated keywords slop into inboxes, past your audience, and into their clutter folder: 

The tech crunch 

As experts and end users are road-testing generative AI, some well-publicized wheels have fallen off the bus. NYT’s suit of OpenAI, dubious med scribe solutions, and the Sam Altman-vs-Elon Musk of it all don’t help our crisis in comms: Brands commercializing generative AI must now hop over a perceived credibility hurdle, but before that is even an option, they’ve got to snag attention away from the day’s cult of personality. 

Readers are primed to click out of your carefully crafted content and onto their next to-do. We operate in an attention economy, and in a market over-saturated with generative AI buzz, attention is craving something big or something else.

Fight AI fatigue with human smarts

If you’re a GenAI founder cooking with chicken-of-the-sea, give your audience something to sink their teeth into. Dish up a little crunch. A tuna salad, or better yet, salade niçoise. 

When other brands are reheating the same microwaved messaging (believe me, it’s fried), three steps can help ensure you’re serving up a fresh take: 

  1. Research the media landscape: If you’re taking a flat-pack, build-it-yourself approach to PR, carve out 15 minutes to see what your competitors are saying on social and in media releases, then review how they are positioned in the media. Start with their headlines.
  2. Start with your headlines: Craft five to seven headlines that capture your story, at least two for your larger brand persona and two for your product(s). Go beyond the value proposition and dig into relatable truths. 
  3. Pressure test: Take a litmus test with trusted friends and colleagues, then start rolling out messaging across owned media. Gauge traction with your audience with social and newsletter platform analytics. Ply your messages as email newsletter subject lines, openers for LinkedIn content, or even as talking points during media interviews. 

Those talking points might even wind up in a headline, someday → Exclusive: ‘If you could hallucinate a protein’: Profluent snags $35M for generative AI models

Keep an eye on the rearview mirror

“It’s really bad to be near the word magical in science,” Ramy Farid, CEO of Schrödinger said in a piece appearing in Endpoints last July. “That scares me. The more overhype, the harder you fall.” Farid likened machine learning to the next Microsoft Office, because after all, it’s just a level up to the productivity software suite. 

I’d hazard a guess that the last time you heard a compelling story about your word processor was before Clippy’s retirement party. And take it from your PR pals, the last time .doc lived in a pitch subject line, we were still faxing. 

GenAI is changing the way we approach work—and its impact will undoubtedly stretch beyond the productivity predicates launched thirty years ago. But let’s not over-egg the pudding. You might wind up with egg on your face when you check the rearview mirror:

Scenes from the Microsoft mainstage, ca. ‘95

Read more from the s2s PR team

The story economy and its irreplaceable value in the ChatGPT era

PR metrics that matter: What’s your ‘share of voice’?

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