22nd February 2024 11:44 am
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Could AI prove useful in crisis management?

  • Of the myriad applications of AI, one useful option for brands could be as a tool in crisis management.
  • AI could specifically be used to better track reputation and sentiment online, particularly on social media.
  • It would therefore give brands the ability to be predictive instead of reactive should a crisis occur.

Ever since ChatGPT became more widely available to the public earlier this year, AI is the only thing that anyone can talk about.

Discussions are happening daily regarding how it can be leveraged in the education space, what it means for people that write for a living, what it means for content creation and ownership, and how best companies can look to integrate it into their existing environment.

One idea of how it can be effectively implemented by brands has been posited by Katherine McInnes, head of Marketing, for Africa at media monitoring firm Meltwater, who believes AI has a role to play when it comes to crisis management.

“In the past few years, we have witnessed what almost feels like a wave of public scandals, ranging from prominent fashion brands to social media personalities. In common for these brands in crisis is the fact that their scandals and incidents quickly gain media attention,” she explains.

“A quick keyword search in Meltwater reveals that the amount of media mentions for these brands and celebrity names skyrockets as soon as the word is out, demonstrating the far reaching influence that digital media has on modern brands’ images and raising the crucial question: How can brands better utilise technology when the crisis hits?” she adds.

Here she suggests AI be put to use through social media, as it often serves as a solid barometer for brand sentiment and reputation. As such, using AI to gauge consumer feeling around a brand, and being able to predict any kind of fallout before it becomes mainstream, could prove invaluable.

“With social media as one of the top marketing channels for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers globally, social media has become an increasingly important platform for businesses to connect with their customers. Therefore, it is needless to say that a thorough social media understanding and the ability to act fast is crucial for today’s companies — which is why AI, in an era where the PR disaster is just a stone’s throw away, is the untapped goldmine of crisis management,” notes McInnes.

“With the help of social listening, brands can identify online conversations at an early stage, track journalists’ reporting, and follow the peaks and troughs of conversations to design optimal crisis responses and messages. There is no doubt that a good understanding of the origins of a crisis is the first and potentially most important step in a brand’s crisis management regardless of the industry. This is where AI technology, which is able to collect vast amounts of data comes in, from platforms like TikTok and Instagram to podcast episodes, becomes our indispensable right hand,” she continues.

As for what companies should be doing should they wish to make the most of AI, particularly as it pertains to crisis management, McInnes says more needs to be done to integrate brand reputation as a measurable.

The reason it is not currently, according to the Meltwater marketing head, is a lack of understanding about a brand’s consumers.

“This is a new challenge for brands, because it requires brands to focus on in-depth consumer understanding. The lack of such an understanding makes any attempts at post-crisis recovery a guessing game, with the outcome likely to be another PR disaster. Therefore, It is crucial for brands to find a way to restore their brand image, by thoroughly analysing, understanding and effectively communicating with their consumers,” highlights McInnes.

“Despite branding being a top priority on the agenda for most organisations today, recent data shows that just under one fourth of organisations use brand reputation as a key metric. This means that companies have a whole lot of room for improvement in terms of analysing and measuring – for branding in general, but also for crisis management,” she concludes.

[Image – Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash]

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