With less than five months to go until the 2024 US elections, companies, citizens, and brands must brace for what is predicted to be one of the most volatile and contested elections in history. One of the most significant factors driving this is the fact that political conversations are no longer unfolding primarily on highly curated and neatly edited newspaper pages and major news channels. 

Instead, political conversations and the narratives that flow from them are now happening on the same video and audio platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube, that most Americans use to communicate with their friends, shop for clothes, and develop their opinions of the world around them. What’s more, they are now commonly pulling in these same brands, their executives, and individuals. The connection between politics, brand reputation, and values has never been closer, and the US election looks poised to turn this matchbox into a social risk fire.

These important social media platforms are growing rapidly in both user numbers and volume of content. More than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, while TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app in the US – but it faces a potential ban unless it is sold by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. Partisan, siloed, and often unmoderated platforms now not only host content, but also shape the political narrative online. And where an audience of potential voters exists, candidates follow – giving interviews and making policy announcements in more places than ever before. Political ad spending on digital platforms is expected to be up more than 150% on the last Presidential election in 2020 – with the atomized nature of online platforms allowing for specific targeting of voters by geography or demographic.  

This digital transformation accelerates the spread of information, making politics more directly connected to individuals and brands. The increased potential for volatility means your organization faces significant challenges in managing brand and reputation. Political attacks on brands, executives and corporate interests are now part of the daily election discourse – and without preemptive action and a strong understanding of the digital landscape, organizations will not only be playing catch-up, but also risking a loss of trust, damage to brand reputation, and ultimately, falling share prices. 

So are you ready? It’s time to stop and ask yourself some crucial questions.  

What proactive steps can you as a leader take to mitigate the risk to your company? What preparations does your organization already have in place? And how can you ensure you’re on the front foot to react to the impact of this seismic electoral year? 

Election Hot Topics for Companies and Brands

Rapidly changing news cycles create new risks every day – but let’s take a look at a few key themes: 

AI regulation is once again in the spotlight, and with the UK and the European Union adopting legal frameworks in an attempt to control the risks posed by AI, any similar moves in the US could impact not only the election itself, but also organizations across the country. As candidates address AI regulation in their campaigns, the resulting policies could reshape the landscape for organizations, influencing everything from compliance requirements to innovation strategies. 

TikTok regulations – the perception that Gen Z voters are disengaged with mainstream politics poses questions about their impact on future policy directions – but contrary to popular belief, Gen Z’s voter turnout in 2022 was higher than previous generations in their first midterm election. And with 50% of Gen Z consuming their daily news via social media, viral trends and information on these platforms can significantly influence their perspectives and actions. This digitally-engaged generation’s social media habits not only shape their political engagement but also have a profound impact on organizations, as viral content can rapidly affect public opinion and corporate reputations. And with a ban on TikTok still looming, it remains to be seen how Gen Z will leverage their online presence to make their voices heard in the upcoming election. 

AI’s impact on jobs and the economy is likely to be keenly felt in 2024 – organizations face a race to harness the productivity potential of AI, while simultaneously reshaping their workforce to reflect rapid changes in AI capability. This involves automating routine tasks, optimizing processes, and driving innovation, which could lead to job displacement and a need for significant reskilling.  

Global conflict and events including the situation in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 are all feeding into US election discourse – and they all bring with them a significant volume of partisan discourse that will spread rapidly across every online platform. Global instability and economic uncertainty are sure to make their mark on the campaign trail in the run up to November’s polls. Geopolitical discussions on online platforms have potentially huge implications for brand reputation and corporate risk – discussions can quickly boil over into headline-making stories to which your organization will need to react. 

AI’s impact on copyright is emerging as of the most contentious issues this year. Generative AI’s use in entertainment, academia, journalism and the arts blurs the lines between humans and machines. In this new space, a world of legal issues arise. Just this month, Scarlett Johansson said she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief” after OpenAI released a voice assistant which she believed to be “eerily similar” to her own voice – bringing into the spotlight the lack of legal protection for those in the creative industry whose work is used to train AI models. This highlights the urgent need to address AI-driven copyright concerns and protect intellectual property rights in this rapidly evolving landscape. 

Misinformation and disinformation campaigns have grown into sophisticated tools used to influence voter opinion and disrupt democratic processes. Organizations face unprecedented tests in navigating a highly polarized political landscape – particularly online. These may range from local issue campaigns designed to discredit a candidate, to national campaigns discrediting the legitimacy of the election itself or misrepresenting candidates’ positions on global issues. Misinformation spreads rapidly, and narratives often change so quickly that organizations need to stay on top of these developments before it’s too late. 

Deepfakes present a unique challenge in this election. The rapid growth of audio and video platforms since the last election has allowed nefarious actors to generate and spread incredibly convincing false narratives. With as little as one photograph and a short piece of audio, AI models can create a realistic clip of an individual saying anything at all. That could be a candidate making claims about an opponent – or the CEO of your organization making disparaging remarks about a competitor.

What strategies is your organization currently employing to navigate these uncertainties? Every second counts when it comes to mitigating risk.

How to Stay Ahead of Navigating Election Uncertainties

Gaining access to industry-specific insights at the earliest possible opportunity will be crucial to your company’s ability to respond – and gain a competitive advantage. Organizations need the most effective tools to stay ahead of the curve. Narratives created by candidates, policy influencers and the daily news agenda develop rapidly and change your buyers’ perspectives of the election-related issues that are important to your brand. So if you aren’t staying up to date, your organization will take the hit. 

ElectionIQ dashboard by Pendulum

Pendulum’s ElectionIQ provides insights into potential risks and emerging trends that directly impact your brand in federal races as well as regional House and Senate races. Incorporating insights powered by cutting-edge AI, ElectionIQ takes the manual work out of staying up to date.  Its automation saves time and resources – allowing you to focus on the human touch side of your business.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to streamline the tracking and analysis of your organization and industry in the run-up to the 2024 US elections, Pendulum’s ElectionIQ is the perfect tool. ElectionIQ offers organizations an in-depth understanding of how the narratives of candidates, stakeholders, and policy influencers will impact their interests, identifying potential risks and emerging trends.

electionIQ

By understanding those risks and actively engaging with industry-leading tools like ElectionIQ, your organization can prepare for any outcome, ensuring both stability and strategic advantage at this unpredictable time in politics.

So are you ready to guide your organization through this year of change? Book a demo today to see how your organization can be prepared to navigate the uncertainties surrounding the 2024 US election!