Apr 30, 2024 - Axios Events

Axios Event: Communicators talk AI, managing public reputation in an election year

Attendees enjoyed lunch during the discussion. Credit: Hector Emanuel for Axios.

Attendees enjoyed lunch during the discussion. Credit: Hector Emanuel for Axios.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Communicators are looking at the rise of AI as a massive opportunity for the field, but they are also factoring in the potential risks the technology could bring for corporate reputation and political communication in a high-stakes election year.

Why it matters: Companies are working on crafting guidelines for disclosing AI use as well as thinking on how to respond to potential comms risks and crises involving AI, high-level communicators told Axios' Eleanor Hawkins and Nathan Bomey at an Expert Voices roundtable discussion event.

This event was sponsored by Salesforce, WE Communications and ROKK Solutions.

What they're saying: "We haven't exactly nailed it yet, but we are working on exactly this," UPS president for global communications Deisha Barnett said.

  • "The way that I imagine it is that we'll actually end up tagging long-form articles on our website that have been written with the help of AI," Barnett continued.

Anna Hughes, vice president of communications for the United States Council for International Business, noted that the threat of bad actors spreading false stories or misinformation disguised as an official press release was not something that the rise of AI would likely ultimately change as it "happens from humans all the time, too."

  • Hughes and others noted the important role trusted reporter relationships play for companies in helping to correct course when false information on a company has been distributed as factual. "I think it's just a matter of reporter relationships, building trust," she said.

1 fun thing: Amanda Miller, Under Armour chief communications officer, noted what she's learned about communications in the retail industry since entering the position months ago after working in finance for years. "What I've learned so much is throwing shade is very much part of this particular industry, we never threw shade in financial services," she said.

  • "From a virality standpoint, I have been shocked by how doing something very small that we think is kind of funny internally, like Nike's see through pants, and we just posted a picture of our pants and were like 'we've got you covered.' The amount of earned coverage that one tweet was able to create for us was a different dynamic than what I'd seen previously."
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