Editorial, Guest Contributor

Three Ways HVAC Companies Can Prepare for Deepfake Threats

May 01, 2024
Josh Weiss

What would you do if a photo implied your employee was stealing from a customer’s home? The damage to the company’s reputation and the potential loss of business could be huge. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) anyone can create a fake photo and share it online in minutes, and that puts every company at risk, no matter how small.

While heating and cooling professionals are essential workers with a low risk of being replaced by AI, they could be the victim of a Deepfake attack. Deepfakes, which include AI-generated video, photo, and audio files, are used to manipulate and spread misinformation. In the wrong hands, they can destroy the reputation of an individual or business. Deepfakes can be created for many reasons, such as an angry customer who wants attention or another business owner trying to gain a competitive advantage.

As AI evolves and new business threats rise, most business leaders wouldn’t know how to handle a deepfake emergency. Below are simple tips that could save their business.

How to Prepare for a Deepfake Crisis

Update Crisis Communications Playbook

Prepare your company for a deepfake crisis by readying responses to the incident in advance. First, identify potential deepfakes that could harm your business. Then develop a plan for leaders and employees to follow should any crises occur. Creating a step-by-step guide for employees before an emergency will help protect the company so leaders can catch the misinformation quickly. This playbook can also help your team communicate with customers and partners appropriately. Most home service businesses rely on positive reviews and a strong reputation, so having a crisis communications playbook is crucial for company leaders so they can act quickly to correct any misinformation.

Prepare to Validate that the Deepfake Isn’t Real

Do some research and find a third-party expert who can verify that the deepfake is actually fake. Simply claiming something is not real won’t be enough to convince customers or clients. An independent source must verify the authenticity of your statements or point out discrepancies in the deepfake to show proof that it’s not real. As AI evolves, AI detection tools will too and it will be important for company leaders to be aware of resources that could help them in a deepfake crisis.

Work with Employees

Misinformation can spread quickly on social media. If your business is targeted by a deepfake attack, employees need to know how to recognize the deepfake and what to do. Company leaders should develop training sessions for employees to teach them what to do if they come across a deepfake scam. Show examples of deepfakes from social media and talk about the importance of reporting anything that can harm the company to their superiors immediately so that the company can start its defense. There’s not much you can do to stop a deepfake, but you can mitigate the impact by catching it quickly.

About the author:

Josh Weiss has worked 25+ years in the PR industry and is the President and founder of 10 to 1 PR, a strategic communications firm focused on helping clients grow positive brand awareness across North America, including home services companies operating in multiple states. He is also an expert in crisis communications management having helped numerous companies through difficult times. Josh can be contacted at josh@10to1pr.com or for more tips, download a free deepfake crisis communications preparation guide at 10to1pr.com/deepfakes.