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Your Advocacy Team Should Be Using AI Right Now. Here's How.

Updated: Apr 29

By Brian Rubenstein and Craig Johnson

 

There is a lot of hype around AI, much of which is distracting and preventing many people and organizations from fully understanding, preparing and utilizing this groundbreaking technology. We’re here to fix that by telling you how your team should be using AI right now.

 

First, let’s clear up a few things.

 

  • Is AI going to take over the world? No.

 

  • Is AI going to take your job? Maybe, but it’s more likely it will take on some of your responsibilities leaving you more time to conduct higher value activity.

 

  • Is AI going to democratize advocacy allowing even small advocacy teams to dramatically increase their impact? Definitely.

 

What is AI good at for advocacy professionals?

 

AI is great at editing, synthesizing, and creating first drafts of many written, visual and audio materials. For many, this tool is the greatest weapon against writer's block that’s ever been developed because, with skilled prompting, AI models can produce content that is 70%-100% complete and useable.

 

An effective use of AI will also transform your meetings - that is if you decide to even attend them anymore. AI note-takers can provide comprehensive meeting summaries in a narrative or bullet point format, direct you to video clips of key conversations that took place and highlight any follow-up items.

 

The days of needing to read long articles or watch dull policy videos to better understand an issue could also soon be gone. Simply paste the content of an article or the link to a video into your AI and it will produce a detailed summary of the information. You can even ask it questions based on that content.

 

What is AI NOT good at?

 

Let’s begin by clearing up a common misconception. AI is not actually intelligent. It operates purely from pattern recognition. It only “knows” based on what it’s learned by scanning millions of Internet pages, books, social media posts etc. It has an extremely hard time creating new ideas, especially ones in which it hasn’t seen a lot of material around.  So when you need someone to connect the dots between tax policy and the Social Security trust fund, AI is going to try to tell you why those two issues are important separately and make it look connected. A human is going to tell you that the cap on Social Security payroll taxes mean millionaires are done paying into Social Security in February while the rest of America pays the entire year.

 

Not only does AI not extrapolate well, it “hallucinates.” In other words, it provides wrong information. This happens because, at its core, AI is probabilistic. In simple terms, think about when you’re typing a text message and your phone is constantly trying to guess the next word. Then realize how much more often it’s wrong than right. It’s crucial that you carefully check the work of any content you use AI to produce. This is one of the many reasons that AI will not replace humans.

 

How should your advocacy team be using AI right now?

 

Content Development

The days of writing all of your content from scratch are over. Once a core piece of content has been created (i.e. an email to volunteers or members), you can use AI to write all of the ancillary content like subject lines, a text message, Facebook posts and tweets. With good prompt engineering, you can even use AI to write the initial draft of your email. Yes, you will one day become a prompt engineer, so you might as well get started now. And don’t worry. It doesn’t require any actual engineering skills.

 

Once you become more familiar with prompt engineering, you can use AI to create your foundational content as well – the email to volunteers/members or fact sheet, for example. For some clients, we are already doing exactly that and then A/B testing the AI-generated content vs. human-produced content to see which drives more actions or clicks. Through these efforts we’ll learn how to better teach the AI to write in the style that is most successful for their audiences.

 

Image and Video Creation

There is a lot of talk about using AI to create images and videos, and not all of it is good. Artists are very concerned about AI “stealing” their work when generating its results and that’s causing in-house legal teams to be very concerned about the threat of copyright infringement. However, there are many safe ways you can use AI for your creative work.


  • Upload your image and graphics library to the AI and ask it to create images based on your previous work or leveraging your own assets.

  • Use a program like Opus.Pro to convert your long webinar into a series of shorter, post-produced clips that can be shared with volunteers, members or on social media.

  • Describe the ideal image and ask the AI to scan a library of stock photography for recommendations rather than you scrolling page by page through services like iStockPhoto.

 

Inbox Management (for mass email replies)

It happens every time you send a message to your list of volunteers or members. The reply box is filled with automated emails like out of office notifications. However, hidden in that flood of responses are a few emails written by actual people that are important for you to read. AI tools like Inbox0 leverage the “reading” side of AI to manage your mass email inbox. It automatically sorts your replies allowing staff to focus on important responses by eliminating all the extraneous noise.

 

Policy and Bill Summaries

The FY2023 budget bill was 4,155 pages. While an experienced lobbyist or policy analyst knows where to find funding levels for their organization’s priority programs, they also need to be sure there weren’t any undesirable provisions that snuck in at the last minute. AI tools like Quorum CoPilot can help. [Have Quorum add two sentences featuring its tool.]

 

Focusing your time on higher value work

 We said at the beginning that AI isn’t coming after your job. But, as you now know, it is ready – with your guidance - to take on some of your current responsibilities. You can choose to perceive this as a threat or an opportunity. Since AI is only going to become more effective and pervasive, we strongly encourage you to embrace the awesome opportunities it provides.

 

Saving time on the functions we described in this article allows you to focus on projects that are of greater value to your organization. This might include strategic thinking, coalition development, member cultivation and relationship building with key grassroots and grasstops volunteers or members.

 

You should also use this extra time to train whichever AI you select. An AI trained on your organization’s communications, policy papers and strategies is going to perform far better in creating usable content than a free, off-the-shelf application.

 

AI has the power to exponentially increase your team’s output and success. The good news is that it can’t do it without you (i.e. humans). And, the initial cost-of-entry is affordable for any organization with platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude costing less than $250 per year.

 

This is no longer the technology of the future. AI is another core tool that your team should be deploying today.

 

 

Brian Rubenstein, founder of Rubenstein Impact Group, helps organizations and companies achieve higher levels of advocacy engagement from their volunteers and members through strategy-driven digital communication and grassroots activation programs.

 

Craig Johnson, as the founder and managing partner of Unfiltered.Media, combines his extensive experience in political and issue-based digital communications with his recognized thought leadership in AI and technology. Craig's unique blend of strategic acumen and technical expertise, particularly his leadership in AI and full-stack web development, empowers Unfiltered.Media to transform complex strategies into tangible digital innovations.

 


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