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Breaking Through

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.

By the Numbers

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 ChatGPTand 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 HuggingGPTDatabricks 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.

May 9, 2023
By Nedra Pickler and Irene Moskowitz
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