Workshop report AI in the Otto Newsroom

Workshop report AI in the Otto Newsroom

Today we talk to Martin Frommhold, Head of Corporate Communications & Press Spokesperson at Otto (GmbH & Co KG), about the use of artificial intelligence in the newsroom. Everyone is experimenting with ChatGPT, but very few companies have gone beyond this stage yet. The Otto Group provided a secure user environment for its companies at an early stage with its own ChatGPT solution. But even at Otto, the use of AI is a dynamic process.

AG CommTech: Martin, for those colleagues who may now be unsettled and wondering, my God, now someone from Otto with a huge communications department is telling us how the world works. But we are not there yet. Are all those who do not yet use AI left behind and what is your advice?

Martin Frommhold: In view of the current hype surrounding AI, it can sometimes feel like we are missing out on the dawn of the future. But we are still at the very beginning of a development that will certainly be groundbreaking, but in which all companies and communicators already active are early adopters. Accordingly, my recommendation is to remain calm, keep a close eye on the topic of AI and plan your first steps carefully. After all, dealing with innovations is always labour-intensive, costs time and money and has to be organized in addition to day-to-day business. This is an enormous challenge, especially for many colleagues in smaller press offices, who often have to be multifunctional.

AG CommTech: You at Otto had your own ChatGPT solution early on, which runs in a Microsoft Azure environment. What allowed you to be able to use AI in communication so quickly, namely as early as October 2023? How did this come about?

Martin Frommhold: At OTTOCOMMS, OTTO’s corporate communications department, we naturally use ogGPT regularly for editorial tasks, for example to create initial text drafts or presentations on which we then build. The use of AI is also a great support in text analysis. Two of my colleagues are also currently involved in an internal test of CoPilot and are using it in a variety of ways across all the Microsoft applications we use for optimized work organization. AI has also become an integral part of photo and video editing. We create many images as well as reals especially for social media and our OTTOCOMMS media design saves a lot of time by AI-supported cleaning of photos, subtitling of videos and much more. AI will also help us to generate data in the future, as we want to expand our data PR activities, including storytelling. OTTO currently has over 11 million active customers, so we are a credible seismograph for the general consumer mood and can also tell stories, for example, about which federal state buys what.

AG CommTech: What importance do you attach to further education and specific training in dealing with AI? How does Otto Communications make its employees fit?

Martin Frommhold: We have all just completed an extended basic workshop with concrete use cases with the specialists from Neongold Innovations, who had prepared very elaborate prompts, assistants and practical exercises. For example, we trained the definition of different writing styles for ChatGPT, the use of wizards for adapting content to different formats and the analysis of internal documents. Some colleagues also worked with Midjourney and practiced generating consistent image series, suitable illustrations and mood boards for communication topics. We would not have been able to explore these topics ourselves and it was a good decision to acquire a lot of knowledge in a condensed and focused way over two days in order to build up our own expertise.

AG CommTech: You mentioned another aspect in the AG CommTech webinar. The aim is to enable the entire organization to fully exploit the possibilities of artificial intelligence. Can you explain what communication should play a role here?

Martin Frommhold: I see Corporate Communications in a multifunctional and leading role to expand AI literacy in-house. However, knowledge must first be built up in order to use AI professionally for the production of content. That also has something to do with credibility. Because when we talk about the use of AI in working life, we communicators should ideally also know how it works, feels and works. And it is precisely this mediation that is original communication work, which I also see expanded to include the role of enabling. AI tools such as ChatGPT have been developed for processing editorial, written content, i.e. classic communication. Who better to explain this, reduce inhibitions and highlight added value than us communicators?

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