How AI is impacting property communications

VIKKI BENNETT, Property House Consultant

Not so long ago Artificial Intelligence (AI) seemed confined to the very distant future with talk of robots and high-tech gadgets but it has already become a reality in some form across all communication industries including the property sector. AI advancements are gathering pace and bringing significant opportunities around content creation while making teams more efficient. A lot of activity centres around the written word so generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard burst on to the scene as noisy and boisterous incomers – at one point acquiring around one million users a week. They almost promised to upend the entire corporate communications landscape with their ability to churn out hundreds of words with a few carefully chosen prompts.

While these tools can assist with sparking creativity and generating a new perspective, it remains a given that humans are better at assessing the macro picture and can assign their wisdom to connect a lot of dots, ultimately forming a judgment. The obvious conclusion is that AI is not perfect because nothing ever is but it can be leveraged to excel where humans don’t with its ability to automate routine tasks without mistakes. However, it currently feels far more comfortable having a human involved to make judgment calls across the output of AI generated content because there’s a lot of avenues for misinformation.

The property industry is a lifeblood within the UK with every single person coming into contact with it to some degree whether they are choosing to buy, rent or sell. The processes within the sector can be overwhelming and complex so distributing incorrect information generated by AI would be wholly irresponsible. It’s crucial to acknowledge the risks associated with AI and identify the right balance between it and human efforts to achieve the most beneficial outcomes. Accuracy remains central to content production so any AI outputs need verification.

Furthermore, ChatGPT cannot replicate the specific nuances of a brand’s distinctive tone so it’s likely a marriage between humans and AI will exist for quite some time. Playing to AI’s strengths means improving efficiencies and harnessing its power to accelerate success.

Liaising with journalists is key within property communications and their appetite for insightful and high-quality commentary from housing market experts remains constant. Understanding exactly what they are looking for to feature within the UK’s biggest and most respected news titles can only be learnt by living and breathing their output. The industry’s leading editors continue to provide informed opinion to human readers so any AI-generated comments will quickly be rejected. It is our use of language that sets us apart; it’s easy to know when a press release or industry comment has been carefully crafted off the back of human thinking, and enhanced by an expansive vocabulary belonging to a skilled comms professional. It’s equally easy to spot when content has been churned out by a free automated AI tool in less than 30 seconds, so within this sphere and for now, human experience is paramount.

Across social media, AI uses algorithms and advanced data analytics to analyse user behaviour and preferences which is then used to make predictions and it’s likely this will continue to be refined. The continued aim will be to gather as much information as possible about consumer attitudes and their linked emotions. Within property comms, gathering analytics and evaluating them to gain insight into trends is perhaps where we will see some of the biggest changes. Refined predictions around customer preferences, purchase behaviours, and market trends, will allow comms teams to make data-driven decisions and develop effective marketing and PR strategies.

As automation streamlines more processes, the time spent on admin is reduced and frees up comms teams for parts of the job which add the most value to clients such as face to face time with journalists to discuss the latest property trends, as well as direct time with the clients themselves. Property communications is undoubtedly a human business and built upon strong relationships. As AI becomes more commonplace and all comms professionals have access to the same AI-powered tech, clients will come to expect an even higher level of customer service as the differentiator. The personal interaction and relationship piece that is key to making a good comms professional is hard to recreate, which is why there will always be a need for humans to carry this out. The success of placing content – and ultimately building brands and maintaining a media profile – for now remains wholly dependent upon the human relationships forged with both clients and journalists.


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