How government communicators could leverage AI in crisis communication

Government communicators play a crucial role in managing crises and issues that may arise. Dealing with emergencies can be challenging, especially as they can impact many people.

To effectively manage a crisis, it is essential to follow a well-defined crisis communication plan. For tips on writing a successful crisis communication plan, read our blog ‘Key elements for a successful crisis communication plan’.

With the need for efficient communication during times of crisis, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could soon be introduced to assist government communicators.

AI could be used in various stages of the crisis communication life cycle.

  1. In the development of a crisis communication plan, AI could be used to analyse historical data to identify potential risks and prepare contingency plans accordingly. Predictive AI algorithms could be used for identifying patterns to predict and tackle problems before they become crises. For example, AI could be used with health data to predict risks to citizens’ health and well-being.
  2. During the assessment stage of a crisis, AI-enhanced sentiment analysis could monitor social media and news outlets for public reactions and concerns, to understand the impact of the crisis on different groups of people. This would enable crisis responders to tailor their communication strategies accordingly, ensuring that they are effective and targeted. Another benefit of using AI in this stage can be to help responders quickly detect and respond to fake news, which is a key part of crisis communication.
  3. In the communication stage, AI could help government communicators deliver clear and consistent messaging to the public. Generative AI could rapidly draft effective messaging based on the analysis of the situation and people affected. AI-powered chatbots could be used to provide instant responses to citizens’ questions, reducing the workload on human responders and freeing them up to focus on more complex tasks.

AI technology could enable crisis responders to automate tasks and hence, provide faster responses when large populations need quick and accessible communications. However, it may lack the nuance and empathy that only humans can provide.

People seek authentic and real connections. Crisis communications should be produced from a place of empathy and tailored with an understanding of the people affected, to ensure they are as effective as possible. The platform, format, tone, and key messaging are all factors that need to be considered when crafting the communications.

An example of effective crisis communication is Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky who has been praised for “harnessing powerful messages and sharing them with the right tone and authority” during the ongoing war in Ukraine. According to Forbes, his strategies included: limiting his messages, customising his messages, using memorable words and phrases, knowing who his audience is, and being authentic.

Government communicators must strike a balance between leveraging the benefits of AI and recognising its limitations. By doing so, they can harness the power of AI to work more efficiently while still maintaining the human connection that is critical for effective communication.

Finally, government communicators need to be aware of the security risks of using AI when implementing this technology. It is essential to have proper protocols and frameworks in place to ensure the safety and privacy of citizens’ data. The next part of this blog discusses the security risks of using AI that government communicators need to be aware of when implementing this technology.

If you are looking for more content for government communicators, you can listen to our GovComms Podcast where we interview experts and leaders from Australia and around the world.

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