The AI Issues Trap

In an AI-fuelled news landscape, crises and issues have ​newfound permanence. Golin’s report analyses the reputational risk and steps organisations need take to enter the age of preparedness.


There is no SEO strategy to game Chat GPT.​ There is no quick edit of a page in an AI model.​ ​There is no “controlling the message” written by a chat bot.

In Golin’s The AI Issues Trap report launched today, our Strategy specialists and Risk & Reputation team analyzed a number of recent issues and AI tools, identifying why it’s more important​ than ever to mitigate a crisis ​before it enters the permanent record.

“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,” said Victoria Brophy, EVP, Risk & Reputation at Golin.

Golin identified 16% of a recent conversation about one multi-national mentioning ‘China’ originated from fake accounts. While our study found over three-quarters (76%) of communications professionals are specifically concerned about the use of AI tools spreading misinformation about their organisation or brand, but very few understood how to tackle it.

In the in-depth report, Golin reviewed the digital information accessible from search engines verses AI tools for recent corporate issues and crises for our report. While traditional search engine algorithms served up the most recent and relevant information, AI tools were unreliable in sharing the nuanced story or outline a company’s right to reply. This led to issues served as fact without vital pieces of context, thus creating an inaccurate permanent record for issues in the digital sphere.

“Our findings show that the traditional issues management playbook is no longer effective in the AI-fuelled media and social landscape. Those statements to media, amends or retractions that are a key part of our issues management toolbox won’t necessarily pull through into AI searches or information gathering,” said Vic Brophy.

To help guide organisations and brands through this shift, Golin has created a new issues management methodology which uses data points across volume of mentions, types of actors, length of sustained media conversation and more, to assess what to look for when an issue emerges and how it might feature in the permanent record. The agency has also invested in tools that identify misinformation and chat bots.

Based on analysis of a range 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, Golin identified four core traits that made stories dominate the news agenda – newness, leadership, active micro-communities and media divisiveness.

“Now more than ever preparedness and responsiveness, coupled with an omni-channel approach, is key to crisis and issues management,” added Brophy.

If you would like to learn more about our findings or about Golin’s Issues and Crisis practice, please download the report or email Laura Weston or Victoria Brophy