The AI Issues Trap report from Golin analyses the impact of AI tools on issues and crisis management, based on a survey of 200 communications professionals that was commissioned by the agency.
The research found that nearly 60% of respondents are yet to adjust their reputation management approach to consider AI, with two in three (66%) unsure how to.
One-quarter of the comms professionals surveyed (25%) identified AI as a significant threat to organisational or brand reputation.
The research found that over three-quarters (76%) are specifically concerned about the use of AI tools spreading misinformation about their organisation or brand.
Victoria Brophy, executive vice-president of risk and reputation at Golin, said: “The use of AI tools is completely shifting how we operate issues and crisis management. On the positives, we now have new tools to identify threats such as misinformation, bot networks and malicious acts across digital platforms and social, as well as to spot and predict accelerating issues.
“But generative AI is also providing an accessible way to create powerful misinformation. The proliferation of fake news is not ‘new news’ but, when taken into account with the increasing use of generative AI, it takes on a whole new terrifying force.”
The agency also found that AI tools were less capable than search engines of sharing relevant information on recent corporate issues, being unreliable in telling a nuanced story or outlining a company’s right to reply.
Golin determined that AI tools create “an inaccurate permanent record for issues in the digital sphere” by serving details as fact without vital pieces of context.
“Statements to media, amendments or retractions that are a key part of our issues-management toolbox won’t necessarily pull through into AI searches or information-gathering,” explained Brophy.
As a result, she concluded: “The traditional issues-management playbook is no longer effective in the AI-fuelled media and social landscape.”
To help guide organisations through this shift, Golin has created an issues-management methodology that uses data such as ‘volume of mentions’, ‘types of actors’ and ‘length of sustained media conversation’ to assess what to look for when an issue emerges and how it might feature in the permanent record.
Based on analysis of recent issues, including the Bud Light Dylan Mulvaney partnership, Brew Dog and advertising around the World Cup, ITV and Phillip Schofield, and Wetherspoon’s employee issues, the agency identified four core traits that make stories dominate the news agenda: Newness, leadership, active micro-communities and media divisiveness.