How Should Political Digital Marketers Use AI?

Before jumping on the AI bandwagon, consider artificial intelligence's unique challenges to political digital marketers.

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With the rise of ChatGPT and other AI products, everyone is wondering: How will political campaigns use artificial intelligence?

After testing out numerous pieces of AI-powered software and thinking long and hard about it, here’s our take.

First Of All: Before You Consider Using AI, Know Each Platform’s Policies

Did you know OpenAI explicitly disallows mass content creation for political campaigns? Yes, it’s clear as day and has been up in their usage policies since March 2023.

Under “disallowed usage of our models”, Open AI specifically prohibits:

OpenAI's usage policies explicitly prohibit mass political content creation.

While not every cool, new AI tool is built off of OpenAI’s GPT models, it’s the clear leader right now. And OpenAI is using that position of leadership to avoid political campaigning as much as possible.

Distribution platforms are beginning to build out official policies, as well. Google requires a clear disclaimer for AI-generated content, and other advertising platforms have let it be known that they are working on more formalized policies.

But these prohibitions and conditions highlight a tension that people in politics should consider regarding AI-generated communications.

Here’s Why AI and Political Campaigns Are a Tricky Mix

What is the classic criticism of politicians? FAKE.

As candidates struggle to convey authenticity to voters, they should be wary of leaping into generative AI content just because it’s trendy. Your supporters have accepted that they are on a mass contact list — but are they really ready to see a computer-generated facsimile of your face and voice without feeling slighted and weirded out?

And that’s not even touching on the most disturbing potential use of AI-generated content: deepfakes. Malicious content that attempts to deceive the electorate is corrosive to democracy, and the American Association of Political Consultants agrees.

The AAPC has gotten in front of the issue with a strongly worded, bipartisan statement:

The AAPC Professional Code of Ethics currently clearly condemns false and misleading statements. “Deep fake” generative AI is contrary to the Code of Ethics because, at its core, “deep fake” content is a deception and has no place in legitimate, ethical campaigns. Therefore, AAPC’s Code of Ethics prohibits the use of “deep fake” generative AI content.

But instead of feeling locked out of some of the flashiest AI tools, political marketers should feel proud.

In a world where we choose to have our legal advice, art, and music generated by artificial intelligence, people still overwhelmingly value humanity in politics. And as AI-generated “fake” content begins to proliferate, having real, human content will continue to be a way to stand out.

So Here’s How We Think You Should Use AI

Does that mean we’re bearish on AI? Not even remotely. But we think “having it create your content” is actually a small fraction of what it can do for campaigns.

As Patti Rausch, who recently led an AI workshop for our team, put it: “Generative AI can be a valuable teammate to help save you time, be a sounding board for brainstorming, and unlock parts of your brain that have been itching to get active.”

Campaigns can use AI to…

Become more analytical. Congratulations, campaigns: You now all have a data analyst added to your team. Learn how to use AI tools to gain greater insights for your digital marketing efforts.

Become more efficient. All of the time-saving hacks people are sharing that they’ve used ChatGPT for? You should use those too. Have it help you summarize challenging policy reads, generate basic autoresponder emails, and draft your volunteer schedules. Just remember to avoid inputting confidential information like voter, donor, and volunteer info. Use samples.

Become more iterative. A service like ChatGPT can help brainstorm with a human copywriter or generate a prototype for a human designer. It’s great at iterating but terrible at setting intentions. Co-create with AI and let it offer options that a human editor can sift through to build something on-brand and on-message for your candidate.

And when you do use AI-generated text or images, be up front about how you are using them to maintain trust with voters. Instead of tricking people with AI images, let them in on the truth.

And Guess What? Political Marketers Already Use AI

At IMGE, we’ve used early-stage AI-powered tools to maximize our efficiency for years.

Grammarly helps us proofread and keep our text concise. Feedly helps us sift through the web to find the most relevant news stories for our clients. We’ve experimented with AI-powered tools that help us quickly convert existing content into social-first videos, AI-powered tools that determine the best time to send social media posts, and AI-powered tools to streamline time-consuming photo editing tasks.

AI isn’t new to political marketing — not by a long shot. But we encourage digital marketers to look beyond the headline-grabbing deepfake videos and towards the myriad ways that AI can help you make your campaign more efficient behind the scenes.

Want to work with IMGE on using AI to take your campaign to the next level? Contact us today.

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