Be A Better AAPI Ally

President of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) John Yang urged companies to challenge the “model minority” myth and recognize Asian Americans are still underserved in a recent virtual fireside chat with FGS Global. 

The conversation, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, touched on a variety of issues currently impacting the AAPI community ranging from the implications of US-China tensions and anti-Asian hate in a “post-pandemic” world to the power of political engagement. 

Below are somekey takeaways for companies looking to be better allies:

  • Asian Americans are a very diverse group, so it’s important to have good, segmented data that reflects their varying experiences. For example, as a Chinese-American man, Yang admits that he feels better represented in the business world than Asian Americans of differing nationalities and gender identities.
  • Consider your company’s diversity across verticals. Asian Americans are often confined to more technical positions. Going up the ranks we see a definitive drop off of Asian Americans at the C-Suite level.
  • Companies should also re-evaluate their own metrics for diversity. He highlights how companies will often proudly claim 50% of new hires are from minority communities. But if the definition of “minority community” includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic individuals and women – the combination of these groups accounts for far more than 50% of the overall population.

Visit the AAJC website to learn more about how they’re fighting to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and building a fair and equitable society for all.

In Bots We Trust?

Despite rapid uptake of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, especially among younger Americans, most American adults do not trust generative AI technology.

Our Research and Insights team took a look at public opinion towards AI and found:

  • A majority of U.S. adults (64%) do not trust generative AI technology. Those who aren’t familiar with the technology have higher shares of distrust (71%), compared to those who are familiar with generative AI (60%).
  • Four in five U.S. adults (84%) agree someone could easily abuse generative AI technology and 68% of U.S. adults worry generative AI could negatively impact the economy. More than half of Americans (56%) worry that generative AI will worsen existing social inequalities.
  • More students aged 12-18 (58%) are using ChatGPT than parents (30%). Similarly, 54% of students aged 12-18 have heard a lot about ChatGPT, compared to only 30% of parents.
  • Students who use ChatGPT are three times more likely to use the AI platform (53%) than search engines like Google (18%).

Breaking Through

FGS employees recently had the opportunity to sit down with Pfizer Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Sally Susman and hear about some of the advice in her new book “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World.”

Here’s what we learned:

  • Nobody has more potential to influence public perception of your company than the people who work there. They are your most important stakeholders.
  • The decision to weigh in on social issues should be tightly tied to your company’s identity. Susman came up with a framework of five questions to determine whether a company should weigh in on specific social issues:
    • How does it relate to our purpose? 
    • How does it impact our most important stakeholders? 
    • How does it relate to our values? 
    • What are our choices here? 
    • What is the cost of staying silent?
  • Break through with storytelling. Susman describes thinking she could convince people opposed to getting the COVID vaccine through data and expertise—but it didn’t really make a difference. What did? Personal and emotional stories—”I got to see my grandkids because I took the vaccine” or “I got to go back to campus” from influential community messengers such as neighbors, barbers, family members, preachers and teachers.
  • Candor matters. “If you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough,” said Susman, “there’s usually a moment of candor you need to get there. ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I love you,’ etc. if you don’t say it you may lose your chance at a breakthrough.”
  • Stay creative and curious. An idea Susman got while watching a movie on a plane became a successful program for Pfizer and a big publicity win.
  • Never underestimate the importance of thank you notes. Susman described how Leonard Lauder (of Estée Lauder) would send thank you notes to buyers before the company could afford ads.

Purchase the book here.

AI Confidential

It’s been a wild couple of weeks in AI news — and things keep accelerating.

Our Head of Digital Development Dan Stone shares his take on what’s happening—and what happens next:

A lot of public focus is going into OpenAI, Microsoft and Google around ChatGPT and Bard, and I’ve heard a lot of people say that power in this space will be concentrated there. But these last weeks have had a cascade of announcements about new Open Source (OSS) models, some backed by some interesting players.

Among these—StabilityAI, which also created the popular OSS image model Stable Diffusion—released “StableLM.HuggingFace released HuggingGPT, Databricks Released Dolly 2.0—notable not just for its OSS license but its availability for commercial use. 

A lot of focus is on ChatGPT, but in the long run, OSS models may in fact dominate in the same way OSS software currently largely dominates across the cloud industry. Seems like some folks at Google *might* share that perspective. The more this ecosystem grows the more we might start to see a shift in the way future tools are built and operate. In that vein — keep an eye on companies like MosaicML, which will train a large language model (LLM) for any company on its own data.

Last week, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton left Google specifically to warn of potential danger if we don’t tread carefully. There was also an interesting perspective piece with former Google AI Ethicist Blake Lemoine who was fired by Google last summer for speaking publicly about his belief that one of their internal models had achieved consciousness. Personally — he seems less out there to me now than he did when I first heard about his story, and I thought this interesting, particularly his description of what the last couple of years inside Google looked like in this space.

A Tweet Falls in the Forest

Twitter activity among influencers is falling sharply, according to an analysis by FGS Global’s Analytics Team tracking hundreds of top brands, influencers, organizations, journalists, politicians and media outlets. 

As of Monday, May 8, 58% had tweeted in the past week and 66% had tweeted in the past month. This frequency is down quite significantly from what we saw in early April before Elon Musk’s verified account removals took effect (85% and 99% respectively).

The drop in cadence is worth watching. While audiences and users on Twitter have not yet moved en masse to a new platform, other services like BlueSky are getting attention.

Uptake is still quite small on all of the alternative platforms, and they are still in very early stages, though invite-only BlueSky is having a moment the last few weeks. The next critical inflection point post-Twitter’s verification changes could be when BlueSky opens up to the public (and if it resolves some of its issues). 

Here’s how to think about these new platforms:

  • The fundamentals of any communications strategy will frame up the options for social media: Where is my audience congregating? What am I looking to achieve with my audience on this platform? Which spaces are the right ones for my brand and content?
  • We recommend a rolling evaluation of new platforms, along with monitoring conversation and performance for existing campaigns. In some cases, organizations may preemptively secure brand/related nomenclature for handles on new platforms as an early step to activation in the future.  

Find our summary of Twitter’s recent changes—and our tips for navigating them—here.

Has Purpose Peaked?

In the second episode of our new podcast series, Insight to Impact, FGS’ Sir Craig Oliver and Louisa Moreton sat down with Oliver Shah, Associate Editor at The Sunday Times, to discuss whether the business case for purpose has peaked – and what comes next.

In recent years, purpose has become a buzzword in the business community. But investors are increasingly asking if it has been overblown. Some are now arguing for a sharper focus on finances, and various states have withdrawn funds from managers who do not prioritize the bottom line above all.

Shah believes purpose should be seen as simply “what a business does and the way it does it.” He warns leaders against conversations about purpose that do little to change an underlying business. A company’s purpose should be obvious, he says, adding: “If it’s not clear to the staff and customers…it probably isn’t real.”

While ESG can be key to that, the focus must be on profitability, products and services, and actually responding to what clients need – integrating purpose into operations as much as into communications, Moreton says.

As for the future, purpose will remain on the agenda, but in altered form. “Faux purpose or purpose-washing – people talking about it in an airy-fairy way – is going to be seen through more and more,” says Shah. “Companies that genuinely bake good behavior – rather than purpose and good future planning around what they’re going to be – into their business models will be the ones that will do well.”

As Moreton summarized, “Purpose has not peaked – but marketing-driven purpose has.”

Listen to the podcast here.

Get On Board

The growing threat of cybersecurity and data privacy incidents—coupled with the increasingly onerous cyber regulatory environment—has boards of directors recognizing the urgency and placing a top priority on becoming knowledgeable about cybersecurity preparedness. 

They have witnessed the growing onslaught of data breaches and ransomware attacks, as well as the threat of protracted litigation that follows any incident. They increasingly recognize the directors’ duty to oversee a company’s effective cyber prevention and response capabilities.

They want to know cybersecurity plans are in place, that the right external resources are at the ready for fast, effective legal, IT and communications responses and that leadership teams are exercising their cyber plans to create the “muscle memory” needed to execute in the event of an actual incident.

If your board has not raised this issue with you, be proactive. Get the right plans and backup communications channels in place. Conduct regular tabletop exercises with key cross-functional team members. Taken together, these steps will demonstrate to your directors that your company is fully prepared.

In the event of a cyberattack, our global Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practice has compiled a list of immediate action steps for communicating after a ransomware attack, as well as key ransomware communications do’s and don’ts.

Neither, Please

As we stare down the barrel of another presidential election, most voters do not support the two most recent White House occupants.

  • Most U.S. voters (70%) do not support President Biden running for president again. Approximately half (48%) cite Biden’s age as the primary reason for their reluctance. 
  • 60% of voters feel Trump should not pursue another term as president. Despite this sentiment, Trump continues to hold the highest level of support among Republican primary candidates, with 46% of voters favoring him, followed by DeSantis at 31%.
  • When it comes to approval ratings among Democrats, younger age groups are less positive about Biden’s performance compared to those aged 45+. While 84% of Democrats aged 45 and above approve of Biden’s presidency, 72% of Democrats aged 18-44 approve of his job performance.
  • Notably, both Biden and Trump share the same unfavorability rate, with 57% of voters viewing each of them “very unfavorably.”