Event Design

How to Make AI Your Event Marketing Copilot

Skift Take

With Generative AI tools evolving rapidly, now is the time for planners to grasp their potential. Those who delay in embracing this technology will be left behind.

With the rise in popularity of ChatGPT, generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools are a hot topic. The value of generative AI for event marketing is clear, but how to use it best is debatable.

The Generative AI landscape is evolving rapidly, with new tools being released daily. One report from December 2022 mapped out 160 different tools. Leading the pack is ChatGPT, which was recently valued at $29 billion.

The Evolution of Generative AI

Of course, the apparent overnight success of Generative AI did not happen overnight. Speaking at the recent Skift Meetings Future of the Event Industry virtual summit, Liesl Leary-Perez, fractional chief marketing officer at Axis Integrated Mental Health, revealed her part in the history of Generative AI.

If you missed the event, you can catch up on demand and see this session in full. Register here.

While working as head of content marketing at the now-defunct SDL, an award-winning company that created machine translation software, Leary-Perez inspired the creation of SDL Content Assistant. “I was a single point of failure for the company…there wasn’t enough time in the day. We have a machine translation model, couldn’t we just reverse engineer that and have it generate English instead of having it generate all of these other languages?” said Leary-Perez.

While the first prototype of the SDL Content Assistant was very simple, the idea grew into something much bigger. ChatGPT’s success proves that they were onto something.

Content and Idea Generation

The common challenge for everyone is creating enough content, says Perez-Leary, noting that this has been a huge challenge for her as a marketer. “Now, I can’t do my job without AI,” she says.

With new AI tools abound, she outlines ways to use them to help planners with heavy workloads without sacrificing truly valuable content. Using generative AI platforms to create content is possible, but Leary-Perez encourages event professionals to use it to generate ideas for events.

Generative AI has the unique ability to synthesize large amounts of data and generate content. Controlling this process is not always straightforward and systems like ChatGPT rely on user prompts to guide the outputs. This makes using the right prompts crucial for obtaining worthy outputs.

AI takes things to another level when you ask it to play different roles. It has the incredible capability of synthesizing what different audiences are interested in. Understanding what a target audience wants and needs is every marketer’s dream. “I will actually tell the AI, pretend that you are my target audience […] and have a conversation with me about the topics that are most relevant to you,” said Leary-Perez. “You’ll get a lot of ideas of how to connect to that audience.”

Dealing With Challenges

How reliable is this empathy exercise? It’s hard to tell, but the simple act of asking these questions and having this conversation has value. It’s really up to each marketer, with their knowledge of the target audience, who must judge this.

Understanding what is real and what is not, or what was created by AI and what wasn’t, can present real challenges to events. For example, judging academic research and presentations requires human oversight.

Conversely, Leary-Perez believes that once associations overcome the challenges created by AI-generated content, they may gain relevance as they become trusted content authenticators. Similarly, human creativity will be rewarded as it will stand out from the growing amounts of less remarkable content.

AI Solves Common Imagery Issues

Going beyond the written word, the image-creation capabilities of generative AI are also evolving rapidly. A recent Skift Meetings article showcased several futuristic images generated by Midjourney

Leary-Perez encourages planners to use generative AI to create event images. After all, this solves issues that are common across business events. “Getting group shots is just expensive, hard, logistically difficult. So that’s the reason that all of us use the same stock photography for every event. […] So using the AI generators to actually go and create these event shots with anonymous people is actually a great use of [AI].”

“I think people should start thinking of AI less about content generation and more about idea generation. And then using your own creativity, your judgment, your experience to hone it down to something that is unique to you, and valuable to your client,” said Leary-Perez.