Fortune dubbed 2024 the year of the “3G Trinity”– as the massive forces of the green transition, geopolitics and generative AI (Gen AI) converge to influence and impact business decisions. Though all pose challenges and emerging risks to corporate communications – as highlighted in this year’s Un/Predictions Report – not all these 'Gs' are equal.

While all require companies to reshape how they do business, how they engage and how they understand the world around them, Gen AI provides – and is already providing – the power and possibility to enable these changes. And to allow us to work smarter, faster and with more impact.

From reactive to proactive, predictive and beyond

We are living in a commstech era that is constantly challenging communicators’ ability to mitigate and manage risk. Over the past couple of years, AI has quickly demonstrated its value to not only make sense of our increasingly complex world in real time, but to expedite and better inform the practice of crisis communications.

Crisis communications professionals have been embracing AI algorithms to track and analyse vast amounts of data from various sources in real-time, some of it driven by mis and disinformation – according to  the World Economic Forum's 2024 Global Risks Report. By using historical data and real time signals, organizations can better understand the counter-narratives surrounding them, identify potential issues or crises before they escalate and respond swiftly to minimize potential damage. Regularly updating these models with the latest data allows companies to be on the front foot in accurately predicting and preparing for the challenges they may face.

The world in a digital sandbox

As comms pros, the critical question now is how we can practically apply AI and Gen AI to better prepare for, understand and manage the crises that we face. Take the crisis manual, long the epitome of crisis communications. As we operate in a full-on polycrisis world, what used to be a compass for navigating turbulent times now exemplifies the reality-check facing crisis communications professionals. In fact, it is simply impossible to capture in an actionable sum of A4 pages the possible crisis that corporations face.

In this context, and going beyond AI-powered narrative intelligence, Gen AI tools can supercharge preparedness for real time crisis management. Use cases include crisis scenario planning,  stakeholder mapping and rapid creation of tailored content, aligned with a company’s  tone of voice and previous communications. By training Gen AI models against an organisation’s escalation protocols, responses to previous crisis or other company responses, crisis professionals can rely on the support of a Gen AI-powered tool to foresee and manage a range of crisis scenarios, hyper-tailored to the organisation and highly responsive to the environment in which they operate.

Supercharging crisis training

Technology is particularly helpful as a simulation tool for advanced training in crisis management. The industry has continued to make crisis trainings increasingly interactive and realistic over time, with tools that test an organization’s ability to respond to a crisis. But the possibilities to go further are significant – from greater real time scenario development to endless options built into trainings to respond to team actions. Practitioners can better prepare for any eventuality, significantly increasing the relevance and value of crisis preparedness. The ability to generate tailored scenario content swiftly, whether text, image or video, makes it a much more dynamic exercise that can adapt to decisions made on the fly by participants.

Scaling counsel and employing empathy

We are already past the days when Gen AI is used solely to produce statements, social media posts and press releases. Today, AI must be embedded at every step of crisis communications and issue management – from narrative intelligence to preparation, training, scenario planning, risk detection and live crisis management. Another critical element is to ensure that the technology is used through the filter of experienced human crisis specialists to ensure we continue to deliver communications with empathy. This approach is now embedded in most organizations who understand that relying on past approaches to navigate this increasingly complex environment means operating blindly.

For crisis comms pros, it is now about effectively incorporating and using AI to enhance strategic decision making to protect reputation in critical times and preserve corporate value.