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AI Guidance for Communicators

See our best practices and guidelines for NC State communications and marketing professionals using artificial intelligence tools.

Background and Context

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to software or machines that exhibit abilities normally associated with human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, making decisions and solving problems. However, artificial intelligence tools cannot mirror the complexities of human reasoning on issues ranging from placing information in the appropriate context to moral and ethical concerns. Generative AI tools make predictions based on vast amounts of existing content rather than creating original work, and they cannot replace human creativity.

These guidelines are for communications and marketing professionals at NC State University. They are not intended to govern other areas of the University, such as education and classroom settings, IT, chatbots, etc. They apply to AI tools that generate content, such as images, text, music, video and other similar items.

Guiding Principles

  • We believe in a human-centered approach to AI that empowers and augments professionals. AI technologies are tools. They cannot replace thoughtful human decision-making and should be treated as assistive — not autonomous — technologies.
  • We believe that humans remain accountable for all decisions and actions, even when assisted by AI. All AI-generated material must be carefully reviewed, approved, edited and overseen by a human author, editor or designer.
  • We believe in the critical role of human knowledge, experience, emotion and imagination in creativity, and we seek to explore and promote emerging career paths and opportunities for creative professionals.
  • We believe in the power of communication to educate, influence and effect change. We commit to never knowingly using generative AI technology to deceive or spread misinformation.
  • We commit to verifying the accuracy of information supplied by AI. Nothing can replace the role of human fact-checkers, and we take responsibility for any AI-assisted information used in communications materials.
  • AI-generated materials have a high probability of capturing another person’s copyrighted or trademarked material. Therefore, we will take great care to ensure that the final product of any AI-generated material has been carefully reviewed and, where necessary, modified to avoid plagiarism.
  • Transparency in AI usage is essential to maintaining the trust of our audiences and stakeholders.
  • We believe in the importance of upskilling and reskilling professionals and using AI to increase productivity and efficiency and build more fulfilling careers and lives.
  • We believe in partnering with organizations and people who share our principles.

Examples of Acceptable Use of AI

AI technology tools and the marketplace for generative AI vendors is constantly evolving, and listing prohibited use cases would be impossible. The examples below should be used in conjunction with the guiding principles to provide direction. This is a living document and may be revised to reflect changes in the relevant technology, legal standards and related policies.

We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with available generative AI tools. Practice using them to see how and whether they can enhance your productivity.

For the purposes of this landing page, “content” is meant in its broadest sense and refers to articles, press releases, feature stories, websites, web content, podcasts, videos, etc.

  • Brainstorming new story ideas: AI can help with fresh story ideas, and it can offer a different perspective or provide constructive feedback on existing concepts for content.
  • Creating an outline: AI can help organize content ideas into a cohesive structure.
  • Editorial calendar/content plan: AI can help you quickly organize and plan your content and social media calendars.
  • Helping with headers, headlines and other content structure and navigation: AI tools can help you identify common themes and provide draft ideas for headlines, subheads, website headers, H3 tags, etc.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): AI tools in the marketing and communications realm can quickly assist with keyword research and help analyze factors like readability, keyword usage and relevancy to improve webpage quality and performance, among other uses.
  • Helping draft social media posts: AI tools can be a great place to start for a quick first draft of social media posts. They can also help you tailor existing social media posts, comments, etc., to different audiences and drive engagement.
  • Personalizing messaging: AI tools can be adept at helping you rework your content to reach different audiences, such as students, staff, faculty, donors or the media. It can make suggestions for how to change language, shorten text, emphasize different targeted messages, etc.
  • Anticipating potential questions or objections: Ask an AI tool to behave like an investigative journalist and suggest potential questions or objections from stakeholders so you can prepare responses in advance.
  • Assisting as an editor: AI tools can answer questions about Chicago style, AP style, etc. However, remember that some tools may not have access to the most recent version of regularly updated style guides and do not have access to NC State’s editorial guidelines.
  • Serving as a thesaurus: AI tools can help you identify alternatives to a given word, phrase or section of content.
  • Enhancing productivity: Provided privacy policies are followed, AI tools can help with routine tasks such as summarizing interview transcripts, analyzing data, drafting outlines and text for presentations, etc. However, it is important to evaluate the resulting output to ensure the accuracy of its summary, analysis, etc. For example, AI may be able to help draft emails, but it is vital to rely on something other than AI alone. See this example of Vanderbilt using AI to write an email after mass shooting as a cautionary example of what not to do.
  • Repurposing content: Paste content that’s too long into an AI tool and ask it to identify areas you could cut. It will look for places of repetition or where shorter phrases would suffice. Note: humans should still review these suggestions, especially since it may suggest changes to quotes or adjust factual information.

AI tools are assistive, not autonomous. They are writing and content aids and cannot replace the role and importance of the human in these tasks. Additionally, these are examples of acceptable and prohibited uses, not an exhaustive list.

Prohibited Use of AI

AI tools should not be used in any way that would violate existing university standards or policies. For example, creating false communication, spamming/phishing or manipulating data to create a deceitful impression.

AI tools are not encrypted or private. Do not enter proprietary data, information about students, employees, patients or other constituents that could breach state or federal privacy laws, including HIPAA, FERPA or other university policies. Information submitted to many AI tools has the potential to become public and part of the promptable knowledge base.

AI tools should not be used to create entire pieces of written content. It can be used for tasks such as brainstorming, drafting headlines and targeting messaging. But fully AI-generated content is prohibited at this time.

Unfettered fact-checking is prohibited. AI tools are outstanding research assistants but may “hallucinate” and suggest facts and sources that are entirely inaccurate, though they sound plausible. Again, humans must be central to all research, content creation and review.

Additionally, AI-generated images, music, audio and video should not be used in university communications materials. The legality of this practice is under review in the courts, and the ethics are dubious. Instead, AI can be used to help brainstorm art ideas and direction.

Some artists are pursuing legal recourse against organizations using AI-generated art rather than against the AI companies themselves.

Real-world example: A large tech company recently shared an AI-generated image on its channels. An artist recognized his work prominently used in the piece and threatened a lawsuit unless the tech company compensated him. Companies that use AI-generated art are being advised to include indemnification clauses in contracts.

Contact Us

If you’d like more details or have additional questions, reach out to April Norris, the executive director of marketing for University Communications and Marketing.

April Norris

Executive Director of Marketing