Beyond Vanilla: Exploring the Intersection of AI and Creativity in Content Creation

Beyond Vanilla: Exploring the Intersection of AI and Creativity in Content Creation

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If we take a trip back in time, to say ten years ago, we'd notice one common theme connecting employer brand communications - they were all vanilla. They lacked distinctiveness and seemed to blend into one another. It was a time.

We’ve all spent the last decade trying to rectify that and infuse our employer brands with more personality and uniqueness. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence, there's a mix of excitement and fear. There's concern that we might revert to producing generic content again, and I'm the first to acknowledge that.

However, I'd like to stand up for what’s being dubbed as ‘vanilla’ content. In fact, vanilla happens to be my favorite ice cream flavor. But here's the catch—it has to be high-quality vanilla. I'm talking about the kind made with top-notch ingredients, real vanilla beans, and preferably gelato, not the generic type you find at the local supermarket that caters to the masses.

The Power of Vanilla: A Blank Canvas

It’s important to recognize the value of vanilla as a baseline. You can establish a solid foundation by clearly understanding your overarching EVP. You can then add creativity, much like sprinkles or toppings, through employee input and use artificial intelligence to personalize your value proposition at scale.

Expecting every organization to reinvent the wheel regarding their employer brand or value propositions is impractical. Realistically, many organizations have the same baseline pillars or values in common and still have radically different flavors, like these two prevalent examples:

  • Innovation as an EVP pillar: In many industries, innovation is at the forefront of business and hiring strategy - that’s your organization’s ‘vanilla’ base. But how your brand interprets innovation drastically changes the flavor. So ask yourself, what stories of innovation make up your company? How does it differ for your engineers vs. your accountants? Or in each region? That's how you stop innovation from being just vanilla.  It’s also a great way to show that the proof is in the pudding (pun intended).
  • Hybrid Working as a benefit: although many organizations offer this flexibility, the approach to hybrid working is different. Hybrid is already a ‘vanilla’ blanket statement. Does it mean three days in the office? Does it involve working in a satellite office close to home? Or is it about having one designated day for team meetings? That's where the ability to use artificial intelligence to scale your employee input is invaluable, as it can mean so many things to different people, and you want to connect with as many of them as possible!

The way I see it, employer brand and talent acquisition leaders can take their blank canvas, put a paint-by-numbers framework to it (your EVP pillars)  and use it to direct how artificial intelligence can help to generate personalized content for their talent based on what makes their organization unique.

Injecting Sprinkles of Creativity: Personalization and AI

The great thing about personalization and artificial intelligence is that we can cater to individual preferences. Some people prefer chocolate or mint choc chip, while others - like my son - might love mango sorbet and vanilla with chocolate sauce and - you guessed it - sprinkles (like I said, each to their own). I’d like to argue that very few people genuinely dislike vanilla, especially if it is personalized to their taste with toppings.

Organizations should embrace the potential that talent will self-select in or out according to personal preference. To be honest, it increases efficiency in the hiring process if you do it early on. 

Share stories that are polar opposites. One perspective on what flexible work looks like  might be from a digital employee who chooses to work remotely from a rural farm. They start work at 4 am, take the middle of the day off to tend to the farm, then start again at 8 pm. This might not sound appealing en mass, however, it might be to the few digital candidates that you are finding super hard to hire. 

Flexibility for other employees might be working from 9 to 5, and in an office because they like the habitual nature and conducive working environment.

This is where artificial intelligence enables the ability to scale to appeal to the right audience and create a message that is not necessarily personalized but resonates! 

In a world where we don’t sit in the same seat, in the same office for five days a week, it stands to reason that statistically, you’re unlikely to become BFFs with all your colleagues. However, if we can find a few people within our work "family" with whom we genuinely connect with, our overall work experience becomes more enjoyable. Encourage your people to share their interests and activities outside of work so that they can find their people and emotionally connect with them.

This approach supports the human touch we often miss in the context of artificial intelligence, and addresses our fear of losing human connectivity. It's a classic way to utilize AI to foster human connection and enhance the human aspect in our work environment. When you work as part of a global team, or disparately, connecting with someone about your job may be a given, but you might spend an extra 15 minutes discussing your newly discovered, shared hobby, like creating cat memes.

Collaboration and Innovation: Enhancing the Content Creation Process

I advocate for AI enhancing creativity. I have always dreamt of being a depressed novelist sipping red wine in isolation. The problem is that I'm not a particularly glass-half-empty person, and I can't spend my days in solitude drinking wine. For me, and many others, collaboration and human interaction fuel the creative process, particularly in a work environment. 

So let's explore how AI tools facilitate collaboration. Suppose you have a global organization and aim to create a unified global employer brand or content strategy. You can employ various tools to achieve this. For instance, we use Notion -  as our collaboration tool of choice. Notion utilizes AI to enhance productivity and organizational structure by providing intelligent features such as content suggestion, data recognition, and automated task management. Saves time spent on the boring stuff in my mind.

However, the challenge then lies in bringing all that content together in one place for editing, refining, and approval. Imagine having the ability to do precisely that. You find an incredible story about an internal mobility move in Holland, and simultaneously, there's a story about a career path into an emerging market in Vietnam - a powerful image about the possibilities of your business that can be hard to uncover without artificial intelligence. 

Picture yourself sitting with your team, collaborating, and accessing a vast library of compelling human stories. AI assists in discovering, sharing, and distributing this content, resulting in a powerful and balanced combination of human creativity, storytelling, and the stories we want to build together. It becomes a collective effort to determine what stories we aim to tell, drawing from content created worldwide. 

The Martec Platform offers nearly 100 distinct content recipes spanning the candidate journey. You use artificial intelligence to recommend content to create, and then your employees infuse personality and creativity through their responses. AI then facilitates collaboration on editing and approvals and distributes the content to the proper channels. This amazing product is why I am so passionate about what I do - the possibilities are endless!

The Secret Ingredient: the Creative Use Cases of AI

To see artificial intelligence personalization in action, consider a common challenge employer branding faces - improving Glassdoor ratings. Even if the majority of your workforce are happy in their roles, the unfortunate reality is that it's human nature to publicly share experiences when we are dissatisfied, i.e., you wouldn't post about your plane being on time, but you might complain on social media if it were late. 

So, the question becomes, "How can we use content to tell a positive story on Glassdoor and build a stronger foundational narrative?"

Imagine asking the same three questions about your company to 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 employees. Each employee would have a unique perspective and answer based on their geographical location, role, and tenure. This is a ‘vanilla base' but with fantastic sprinkles and toppings.

On The Martec platform, for example, we've built out our People Intelligence solution to solve the common issue of identifying the right people at scale to approach to input that creativity! 

Let's say your engineering workforce has consistently low Glassdoor ratings. Through targeted efforts, we can locate engineering employees across different global locations and amplify their positive stories to improve the ratio of reviews on Glassdoor. By leveraging artificial intelligence, we can find the right people in the right places and engage them in their preferred language - from Polish to Hindi. We can add personalized sprinkles to their perspectives by asking the right questions.

Other practical applications of artificial intelligence that you can implement right away are:

  • Job Ads (and JDs): Although the use of artificial intelligence in JDs has had varying degrees of success, there is value in embracing the best aspects while incorporating human input to make them organization-specific and scalable. At The Martec, we use generative AI to turn JDs into compelling Job Ads, but we also have a human workflow built in to minimize the risk of ‘vanilla.’ You have to add your EVP sprinkles or your creative tone of voice. Otherwise, it becomes interchangeable with any company and we’re back to square one.
  • Interview transcriptions: artificial intelligence-powered transcription tools have gained popularity across various industries. These tools utilize natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to accurately and rapidly transcribe spoken words into written text. Once transcribed, it is easy for recruiters to summarise interviews and have the AI create specific feedback questions for hiring managers. Improving the speed of this process and removing most of the manual effort means that candidates have a better and more engaging experience.
  • Campaign Art: artificial intelligence can also generate visual art by learning patterns and styles from existing artwork which can add depth to your EB campaigns. Platforms such as Dall.E, Midjourney, and Canva showcase the creative potential of AI in visual art generation.
  • Video Editing: Furthermore, not everyone needs to be a video editor. AI-powered tools like The Martec’s Video Studio make video creation more accessible and user-friendly. AI won’t turn you into an editing professional (in this context). Still, it will help your brand design and edit your video content to deliver a personal message to your talent throughout their journey.

Summary

By establishing a rich vanilla baseline by human design, you can use artificial intelligence to incorporate creativity and individuality through sprinkles tailored to almost everyone’s desire.

Through collaboration, innovation, and exploring the potential of artificial intelligence technologies, content creators can break away from the monotony and deliver engaging, diverse, and impactful articles that captivate their audiences. 

For those of us in the talent attraction and retention game, it allows us to tell many stories that elevate our abilities in the pursuit of compelling storytelling and content creation.

By the way, how many of you are craving ice cream right now?!

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