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Article

Navigating the Evolving Cyber Threats Landscape: Strengthening Defense and Crisis Preparedness

June 20, 2024
By Carmen Yu

As businesses have become increasingly reliant on digital tools, cloud solutions and online customer engagement, the attack surface for cybercriminals has expanded exponentially. These trends are likely to accelerate further as threat actors leverage emerging technologies like AI for malicious purposes, making cyber attacks more sophisticated and effective.

AI-powered cyber attacks are becoming more advanced, with criminals using AI to streamline and enhance the effectiveness of their attacks. This includes:

Deepfake-Enabled Fraud and Impersonation

  • Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams: Criminals leverage deepfake audio or video to impersonate executives or business partners in email, phone call or conference call, diverting fund transfers and obtaining sensitive information
  • Deepfakes are used to create social media influencers for phishing campaigns and scams such as fake real estate listings and product marketing, tricking victims

AI-Powered Reconnaissance 

  • AI chatbots divulging sensitive information from their training data
  • AI used to analyze vulnerabilities and customize attacks like ransomware to increase chances of success
  • Threat actors leverage AI-powered reconnaissance to gather detailed information for more personalized and effective phishing and other attacks
  • AI automation makes it faster and easier for criminals to deploy and spread malware and ransomware

Bridging to Preparedness and Communications

As cyberthreats to organizations around the world continue their exponential growth, communications professionals have a critical role to play in helping organizations strengthen their overall security posture and incident response plans:

  • Collaborate with security and legal teams to ensure clear protocols are in place for verifying stakeholder identities and responding to suspected incidents.
  • Conduct crisis simulation exercises to test the organization’s preparedness for a range of cyber attack scenarios, focusing on validating processes for stakeholder verification, incident response activation, and communications with key stakeholders.
  • Coordinate with industry groups and authorities to stay informed on the latest threat trends and effective mitigation strategies.
  • Develop robust crisis communications plans to protect the organization’s reputation in the event of a successful attack.

Preparation and proactive communication are essential. Companies must anticipate a range of cyber threat scenarios, identify and rehearse with response teams and integrate communications strategists throughout the process. Effective crisis management can help mitigate reputation risks, preserve organizational credibility and stakeholder trust.

As the threat landscape evolves, businesses must be ready to navigate more advanced cyber attacks. A robust security and incident response plan, with communications fully integrated, is essential for protecting business operations and company reputation.

Article

But First, Listen: Three Ways Femtech Brands Can Reach Women and Drive Change Through Communications

June 17, 2024
By Leah Eser and Heather Pierce

The women’s health and ‘femtech’ industry is exploding. And rightfully so — women’s health, which encompasses much more than reproductive issues (menstruation, fertility, menopause), has historically been overlooked, underfunded and highly stigmatized despite women comprising more than half of the population and making 80% of consumer healthcare decisions.

While strides are being made within the healthcare and venture capital community to pay increased attention to this underserved sector, more work remains. As recently as 2019, women accounted for only 40% of participants in clinical trials for three of the diseases that most affect women — cancer, cardiovascular disease and psychiatric disorders — despite representing 51% of the U.S. population, according to a 2022 study. And representation in studies is even worse for women of color. President Biden recently called on the U.S. Congress to make a bold, transformative investment of $12 billion in new funding for women’s health research to address this disparity.

But changing systems and structures will take time. We can start with communications and transforming how we talk about women’s health now. This becomes even more important when we remember that women’s health advertising is still being censored – most recently, a breastfeeding start-up’s advertisements were removed from Times Square in New York City. 

While brands continue efforts to push the boundaries, more can be done to drive conversation amongst specific audiences and communities and continue to raise awareness and truly address women’s health needs.

We should take the time to understand women’s experiences and avoid making assumptions about what they want and what solutions will work, and treating them as monolithic—or simply not considering them at all. Our language also needs to become more human. Medical jargon and an overemphasis on ‘patients’ exclude the people we aim to serve: the women worldwide who may feel misunderstood, unseen or unempowered. 

Take menopause, for example. Despite being a medical issue most women will experience in their lifetime, research and understanding are limited. Stereotyped as hot flashes and irritability amongst women in their 50s, menopause can affect women as young as 30 years old, with wide-ranging symptoms from memory loss and increased risk of anxiety and depression. Not only that, but Black and Latinx women tend to enter menopause earlier and have longer-lasting, more intense symptoms. So, how can we develop solutions that will make a meaningful difference?

To drive real change, we need to dig into the nuances of the conditions women face and how they affect different communities and demographics. We also need to look at what other aspects of their lives may be affecting their health outcomes. For example, women in low-income communities are at a greater risk of being uninsured, which leads to less preventive care, such as Pap smears and mammograms. Uncovering authentic and powerful insights is the key to creating communications with impact. 

By better understanding women, we can create conversations within culture that reach the right people in the right places. If you are a healthcare brand or a brand targeting women about health issues, consider these guiding principles as you plan your next campaign:

  1. Set clear objectives and identify the right solution: A clear understanding of your audiences, their experiences and how they are impacted by various issues will help you determine what success looks like and differentiate the core products and services that can best respond to those pain points.
  2. Craft the right communications strategy: Strong insights about the audience and the landscape they operate within will allow you to craft emotional and impactful messaging that will resonate with the target audience and their lived experiences.
  3. Execute with impact: Use data to inform the channels and communities you need to reach your consumers. Your strategy and insights should inform precisely how you will execute to achieve your objectives. Reaching the right people in the right places is critical to encouraging engagement  — whether through events, podcasts, online communities or traditional media, you will want to be sure you can track what is resonating and what works. 

Femtech is poised to drive change and start to balance the scales in women’s health. To have the best chance of success, we need to start with listening to women. 

Article

Unveiling the Future: Insights into AI at Axios’ AI+ Summit in New York

June 11, 2024
By Caitlin Teahan

This year’s New York Tech Week was abuzz with innovation and anticipation, with the Axios AI+ Summit event standing out as a pinnacle of cutting-edge advancements and thought-provoking discussions. Held in the vibrant heart of New York City, the event brought together industry leaders, pioneering researchers and eager enthusiasts to explore the latest trends and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. From groundbreaking keynote addresses to interactive networking, the event was a testament to the relentless march of AI technology and its profound impact on various sectors.

Onsite at the event

The event lineup was rife with industry leaders from IBM, the Allen Institute for AI, Spotify, the NFL, celebrity partners such as Maria Sharapova, notable Axios reporters and numerous others in both the public and private spaces. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with Axios’ own cutting-edge AI software, delve into sessions focused on AI in creative industries such as influencer marketing and learn how AI takes harnessing the power of data analytics to the next level. Overall, the Axios AI+ Summit was a compelling and informative event, providing valuable insights into the current state and future potential of AI. It highlighted the vast opportunities AI presents while also addressing the critical challenges that need to be managed to ensure its benefits are widely and equitably realized.

Unanimous considerations

Across the board, speakers set an inspiring tone for the event, all of which leant into the transformative power of AI, emphasizing its potential to revolutionize industries. In addition to the broadly shared positives, speakers were in agreement on a few points of consideration, regardless of industry as their merits are universal:

  • Regulation is needed: AI systems require regulatory frameworks to ensure they operate within ethical and legal boundaries, which necessitates human oversight and governance. This topic was particularly pertinent when addressing creative content. The creation and dissemination of AI-generated media needs careful monitoring to prevent misuse and to uphold intellectual property rights.
  • The human element is irreplaceable: The unique qualities of human intuition, empathy and ethical judgment are essential and cannot be fully replicated by AI. Making human involvement crucial in the deployment of GenAI in areas where nuanced understanding and moral considerations are paramount, will pave the pathway for strong standards.
  • Efficiency is one of the clearest use cases: While AI can enhance efficiency in various tasks, the strategic application and integration of AI systems still depend on human decision-making and insight. This has the potential to maximize organizational goals.

Final note

The consensus was clear: While AI presents significant challenges, it also offers unparalleled opportunities for innovation and growth. As the curtains fell, it was evident that the future of AI is bright, and its journey is just beginning. New York Tech Week once again proved to be a fertile ground for fostering innovation and forging connections that will drive the next wave of technological advancement.

Article

TikTokTech: At RSA Conference, AI Dominates the Security Conversation

June 4, 2024
By Phoebe Bowe

The annual RSA Conference is one of the biggest events in the cybersecurity industry. Tens of thousands of security professionals, business leaders, academics and government leaders from around the world attended the show in San Franisco to discuss the latest trends and developments in security.

Unsurprisingly, AI dominated the show for the second year in a row. According to Deloitte, the AI cybersecurity market is expected to hit $102.78 billion by 2032. Based on the number of AI solutions and integrations announced at RSA, the sector is certainly growing quickly, spurred on by an increasingly complex cybersecurity landscape. According to Cisco data, more than half of organizations have experienced a cybersecurity incident in the past year and 73% believe they are likely to experience a security incident in the next two years. The security industry is betting big that AI will help them mitigate this risk and three AI trends stood out.

1. Leveraging AI for Enhanced Prevention and Advanced Security

At the show, many security companies released AI-powered solutions and capabilities designed to augment cybersecurity workers and traditional security measures. Some AI solutions can now detect software vulnerabilities before they are exploited, for example, or detect and respond to suspicious network activity before any data is compromised. These capabilities enable companies to respond to incidents and remediate vulnerabilities faster, mitigating cyber threats more efficiently.  

AI is unlocking a new level of proactive security. Companies can more easily predict and prevent threats, versus responding to attacks. In an evolving threat landscape, detection, response and patch time is critical to preventing a headline-generating data breach.

2. Securing AI Deployments in the Race for Adoption and Innovation

Companies are incorporating AI across their businesses and tools as we enter a new phase of digital transformation. Business leaders are in a hurry to deploy AI so they can find efficiencies, make employees more productive, get more value from their data and innovate faster. If they don’t implement AI effectively, they risk falling behind competitors.

There is also a risk to moving too quickly, however, as AI tools could introduce new security and data protection risks. Organizations need comprehensive data governance to avoid sensitive or protected data from being fed into AI models, which could violate data privacy laws or other industry regulations. Too lax use of third-party AI tools could also increase risk of a data breach. On the other hand, if companies place too stringent restrictions on their employees’ AI use, they could miss out on key insights and opportunities for innovation. Data and security teams have the challenge of keeping data secure while also enabling experimentation and fostering innovation within their organizations.

3. AI is Supercharging Security Threats

Security professionals aren’t the only ones using AI to their advantage. Cyber experts warn that AI will make threat actors more efficient and better at perpetrating attacks —– exacerbating the threats security professionals are already racing to outrun. Supercharged by AI, the industry will see more sophisticated phishing attacks that involve voice cloning, deepfakes that can be used for blackmail and a generation of cyber attackers that can use AI bots to help them execute better attacks.   

Amidst these evolving threats, the stakes have never been higher for companies. The average cost of a data breach increases every year and reputational damage of a breach can threaten brand credibility. Compounding these challenges, according to the World Economic Forum, the global cybersecurity talent shortage could reach 85 million workers by 2030. AI can help fill gaps and address the issue of burnout among short-staffed security teams. Industry leaders agree that AI will never replace human security workers, but it can help support them and enhance their capabilities.

AI-augmented solutions can’t come soon enough. As security professionals continue to integrate AI into solutions, we’ll be keeping an eye out for where this technology goes next.

Article

Generative AI in the Newsroom: Friend or Foe?: A Panel Discussion Hosted by FleishmanHillard

June 3, 2024
By Michael Steavenson

FleishmanHillard recently hosted a timely and deeply illuminating panel discussion on the impact of Generative AI (GenAI) in modern journalism. Held at the Axel Springer Haus in downtown New York City, the event brought together senior newsroom leadership from leading publications, including AdWeek, Axios, Business Insider, Harvard Business Review and POLITICO. Moderated by Ephraim Cohen, FleishmanHillard’s global managing director of Media, Platforms and Storytelling, the panel addressed the challenges, fears and opportunities GenAI presents for newsrooms worldwide. The event attracted an audience of more than 40 attendees, including senior communications professionals from top-tier companies and clients like Novo Nordisk, Meta and Samsung, among others.

To accompany the panel discussion, FleishmanHillard also published a study on the current state of GenAI in the newsroom – from the early adopters and the critics to the initial successes as well as the emerging cautionary tales.

Panel Highlights

The discussion featured a stellar lineup of panelists who provided deep insights into GenAI’s evolving role in journalism including:

Aja emphasized the importance of distinguishing between commoditized content and unique reporting delivered by expert journalists. She highlighted how GenAI can streamline workflows but stressed the necessity of maintaining trust and community:

Trust is at the center of what we do. We are reorienting our newsroom and business around subject matter experts that can deliver something specific to them, their experience, and their skillsets. If we orient around trust and expertise, we are confident we can weather the technological storm that is coming.”

Cadie shared how Business Insider is leveraging GenAI to enhance productivity, such as using AI to digest meeting notes or news reports to decide on story depth. She also highlighted AI’s role in transcribing podcasts and shows, freeing journalists to focus on more critical tasks. Cadie’s approach reflects a balance between innovation and journalistic integrity:

“No one likes change, and the integration of Generative AI is a big change. One of the blessings of working with journalists is that they are naturally skeptical of everything, so we trust them to be careful with new tools. As the executive editor, I try to show them the possibilities of how gen AI tools can make their lives easier and allow them to focus on the things they want to be doing.”

Ryan highlighted the need for journalists to understand the craft of journalism before integrating AI tools into their work. He cautioned against giving AI tools to junior reporters without proper training. Ryan also pointed out practical uses of AI in generating drafts for complex advertising content. His thoughts reflected a careful and measured approach to AI adoption:

“Retaining readers’ trust is fully in our control, regardless of Generative AI. AI used to be a dirty word in the ad industry. But now, even if we tried, we couldn’t not cover it.”

Francesca focused on the importance of transparency in AI integration. She discussed how Politico is using AI to do things like generate bill summaries and enhance storytelling while maintaining transparency with their readers. Francesca’s emphasis was on building and maintaining trust through open communication:

“When we think about building trust and protecting against erosion of that trust and accuracy, we have to be self-aware that we are not the single voice. The integration of Generative AI into our storytelling strategies brings about questions. How did we get the reporting? Who was involved? So the more we can focus on transparency, the better.”

Adi shared Harvard Business Review’s investment in developing a proprietary AI model to ensure accuracy and reliability. He highlighted the duality of AI as both a powerful tool and a source of concern. Adi’s insights captured the cautious optimism surrounding AI’s future in journalism:

“Part of the reason we’re investing in generative AI internally is because it’s going to be table-stakes. Another part is because existing LLMs (Large Language Models) are error prone. If we can build a model that doesn’t hallucinate and is based on our own content, then we have a clear alternative to big tech platforms. But obviously, trust is everything.”

Key Learnings

  1. Trust and Expertise Are Crucial: Emphasize the irreplaceable value of experienced journalists to maintain reader confidence amid GenAI integration.
  2. Transparency Enhances Credibility: Ensure clear communication with readers about GenAI’s role in reporting processes to build and maintain trust.
  3. Balanced Integration of AI: Utilize GenAI to enhance productivity while maintaining human oversight to ensure accuracy and quality.
  4. Guardrails and Ethical Considerations: Implement strict measures to prevent GenAI errors and prioritize ethical considerations, including privacy and misinformation.
  5. AI as a Tool, not a Replacement: View GenAI as a supportive tool that enhances, rather than replaces, the core human elements of journalism.
Article

How to Mitigate Brand Safety Risk and Contract Influencers with Confidence

May 17, 2024
By Liz Hawks

“Texas AG sues Instagram influencer for giving ‘bad health advice’”

“Unpacking the child abuse case against YouTube influencer”

“Influencer axed by [sponsor] for violent comments about children”

“Racist Tweets resurface after TikTok influencer’s wedding”

Ripped from the headlines, these are just a few real-world examples of the inherent risk that comes with putting your brand in the hands of human beings to promote it. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are years old and are unforgiveable but weren’t surfaced before the contract was executed. Sometimes headlines like these scare marketers from working with influencers altogether. But in 2024, turning away from influencers isn’t the answer. It’s where your audience is looking for inspiration and information. They are simply too powerful a channel and promotion partner. Rather, brands need to develop plans to help them continue to confidently contract the right influencers and mitigate risk.

In 2024, brand safety influencer vetting must evolve to additional layers. Brands need to ask themselves:

  • Are you comfortable working with an influencer who has posted about global or domestic political issues? Or about their personal religious beliefs?
  • What if they have posted favorably (or unfavorably) about Trump? About Biden? Kennedy (RFK Jr.)? Or other politicians and/or their platforms? How will your audience view those posts?
  • Does an influencer’s personal stance on vaccines or other health issues give you (or your audience) pause?
  • If an influencer lives in a state where marijuana is legal, and has posted about personal use, do you consider them brand safe?

World issues, political campaigns and government policies are permeating discussions among influencers and creators who have platforms and audiences looking to them for their authentic opinions on current affairs. The pendulum of audience expectation can swing with followers sometimes looking to influencers to use their clout to voice support for or against an issue, and at other times wanting influencers to “stay in their lane” and keep their social content focused on their niche or vertical, not interjecting a personal point of view about world matters.

Regardless, brand safety vetting has only expanded as sponsors scrutinize just how neutral they want to keep their partnerships, and wrestle with identifying exactly where their thresholds lie. Influencer selection and activation without rigorous brand safety vetting in these expanded territories can lead to a reputation problem for a brand if a sponsored influencer’s personal leanings incite the brand’s base or acquisition target.

This begs three key questions of marketers looking to engage influencers:

  1. How can our brand build appropriate and bespoke evolved safety vetting guidelines to ensure reputation protection while continuing to meet audience expectations, and without censoring the authentic voice of the creator?
  2. How do our publicly stated values align with how the safety guidelines are written?
  3. How can we mitigate risk after beginning a partnership with an influencer who may use his/her/their platform to share personal opinions that inadvertently reflect negatively on us as the brand sponsor?   

Data plays a, if not the, critical role. At FleishmanHillard, we review an influencer’s historical content to understand how it does, or doesn’t, align with a brand’s safety standards. We also use audience data to ensure alignment in areas like politics, social issues or policy leanings and make certain the brand’s customers or social followers and the influencer’s followers are in sync. Data science can’t eliminate the need for human analysis for context and tone. And tools alone can’t judge whether an influencer’s personal leanings jibe with a brand’s values. But as with most things influencer related, this equation blends art and science.

And remember safety vetting isn’t just for influencer discovery. It’s important to work to mitigate risks to ensure a continuity of brand safety pre-, during- and post- partnership. At FleishmanHillard, we work with clients to build custom playbooks for how to handle various levels of potential influencer-created issues from breaching a contract to breaking a law.

Risk doesn’t stop at the conclusion of a campaign. After a contract term is complete and the influencer is no longer in a live partnership with the brand, there may still be an association between influencer and brand in the mind of the audience. If the influencer creates an issue at this stage, the brand has little control. But consumers may start a conversation about the affiliation between the two parties, or even reach out to customer service to complain about the brand having worked with an influencer.

Influencers are human beings who sometimes make mistakes or have previously demonstrated unsavory behavior. Today’s hyper-polarized world presents additional inherent risk. But influencer marketing is also business critical. Brands who are not prepared with proactive and reactive plans for mitigating inherent risk are leaving themselves exposed to become the next “ripped from the headlines” mention.

Article

Unveiling the Ascendance of Private Markets: A Gateway for Asset Managers to Attract High Net Worth Investors

May 15, 2024
By Mokka Mok

In recent years, the private markets landscape has experienced a remarkable surge, capturing the attention of asset managers around the world. This flourishing trend has paved the way for the financial industry to explore new avenues for growth, with private markets becoming an enticing domain for high net worth investors seeking investment opportunities with relatively low market correlation.

In our recent report “The Future of Asset Management in Asia”, the majority of investors (42%) are most concerned about slow global economic growth or even a downturn. In response to these uncertainties, nearly one-third of respondents (29%) plan to shift their investments towards lower-risk options, and there is a growing interest in diversifying portfolios. Investors are now showing enthusiasm for private market investments, particularly in private equity funds (15%) and private credit funds (15%). Respondents believe that these alternative investments can enhance and diversify their returns and helping mitigate overall portfolio risks associated with economic downturns.

The shift towards private markets

1. Enhanced returns and diversification

Amidst a volatile and uncertain global economy, investors are increasingly drawn to private markets due to the potential for enhanced returns. Private markets and alternative investments tend to outperform traditional asset classes over the long term, providing investors with a chance to optimize their portfolio performance. Additionally, private markets offer diversification benefits by reducing exposure to public market fluctuations, making them an attractive proposition for high net worth individuals seeking to protect and grow their wealth.

2. Access to exclusive investment opportunities

Private markets grant access to unique investment opportunities that are not readily available in public markets. This exclusivity is a major allure for high net worth investors, as it enables them to invest in promising startups, venture capital funds, real estate projects, and private companies with significant growth potential. By participating in these early-stage investments, individuals can capitalize on the success of innovative enterprises and potentially realize substantial returns.

3. Long-term investment horizon

Unlike public markets, which are often driven by short-term speculations and market volatility, private markets facilitate long-term investment strategies. High net worth investors are attracted to the private market’s ability to generate value over an extended period. The relatively illiquid nature of private investments encourages disciplined, long-term thinking, aligning with the goals of many high-net-worth individuals who prioritize wealth preservation and sustained growth.

Reaching out to high net worth investors

1. Establishing strategic partnerships

Asset managers can leverage their existing networks and forge strategic partnerships with wealth management firms, family offices, and other financial intermediaries. Collaborating with these entities enables access to their pool of high net worth clients and facilitates the promotion of private market investment opportunities. By providing comprehensive education and tailored investment solutions, asset managers can position themselves as trusted advisors capable of meeting the unique needs of affluent investors.

2. Thought leadership and education

Educational initiatives play a crucial role in attracting high net worth investors to private markets. Asset managers should invest in thought leadership content to demonstrate their expertise and provide valuable insights into the advantages and intricacies of private market investing. Webinars, whitepapers, seminars, and conferences can be utilized to educate investors about the potential benefits, risks, and strategies associated with private market investments, ultimately building confidence and fostering engagement.

3. Technology and digital platforms

Harnessing the power of technology and digital platforms can significantly enhance the outreach efforts of asset managers. Online portals, mobile applications, and user-friendly interfaces can streamline the investment process, improve transparency, and provide real-time updates to investors. Leveraging digital tools also allows for efficient communication, data analysis, and reporting, enabling high net worth investors to monitor their investments effectively and make informed decisions.

As private markets continue to ascend, asset managers have a unique opportunity to tap into the growing appetite of high net worth investors. By highlighting the benefits of private market investments, establishing strategic partnerships, providing education and thought leadership content, asset managers can position themselves as trusted advisors capable of meeting the sophisticated needs of affluent individuals. By embracing technological advancements and digital platforms, firms can further streamline the investment experience, ultimately fostering long-term relationships with high net worth investors in this thriving landscape.

Article

Educate, Don’t Advocate: The Why and How of Civic Engagement at Work

May 14, 2024

U.S. Version: May 2024

The Takeaway

As the United States faces one of the most politically polarizing presidential elections in recent years, organizations can benefit from shoring up a healthy internal climate and prioritizing business continuity now ‒ ahead of potentially divisive events that might fracture cultures and teams or disrupt business operations.

A Healthy Outlet for Civic Engagement Can Make a Difference

Help employees stay focused on shared goals at work through civic engagement programs that aim to educate (not advocate). Keep in mind:

  • Non-partisan support for democratic processes can help organizations and their employees navigate a challenging political climate more positively and constructively.
  • To weather potential disruption and division in the workplace most effectively, organizations should plan ahead and take steps to promote positive civic engagement ahead of potentially disruptive events.

Three Ways to Support Democratic Processes

Organizations can — and many already do — support employees’ civic duty by offering time off, providing information/resources and encouraging them to engage in democratic processes. Here’s how to activate:

1. Time. Organizations can support the process by ensuring employees have the time they need to vote. Federal laws don’t require that employers grant time off to vote, state and local ordinances vary, and time-off offerings depend on business needs. But organizations can offer time to vote by:

  • Encouraging employees to talk to their managers to ensure they can participate in the election process
  • Offering PTO hours, closing for the day or dismissing employees early to allow time to vote. (Organizations that operate in multiple states should be mindful of state and local variances to ensure consistent access, e.g., consider whether employees in states with mail-in voting have access to the same amount of time off as those without it.)

2. Information and resources. Organizations can encourage employees to seek out authoritative, verified sources of information, especially those that have been through editorial reviews. By providing access to resources detailing voting procedures by state as well as information about which items appear on the ballot, an employer can be seen as a trusted source of accurate and impartial information.

Other measures include:

  • Helping employees register to vote and educating them on smart voter practices and preparation leading up to elections.
    • Posting signage with information on how to register and vote
    • Making registration forms available in common areas
    • Hosting a voter registration drive
  • Launching an internal website or educational campaign aimed at getting out the vote
  • Curating a list of third-party, independent resources and making it available to employees, for example:
    • Secretary of State websites
    • County Board of Elections websites
  • Aligning with non-partisan voter advocacy groups that offer insight and guidance.

3. Encouragement. Organizations have an opportunity to reiterate to employees that, as U.S. citizens and regardless of political positions, voting is their civic duty. Senior leaders can set the tone by underscoring the importance of voting and instilling a sense of confidence in its power. Consider:

  • Sending a note highlighting the importance of education, registration and voting
  • Aligning voting and civic engagement to company values
  • Sharing a leader’s personal voting plan — and inviting others to do the same
  • Timing outreach around ongoing civic events such as conventions, debates and National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 17.

Whatever level of encouragement you provide, proactively communicate — across a variety of channels and methods — all the measures your organization is offering to help employees exercise their right to vote by:

  • Helping them register to vote
  •  Prompting ballot reviews  in advance of the election
  • Making a plan to get to the polls and vote

Be Aware of the Potential for Disruption

As you empower employees to engage in democratic processes, it’s likely that politics may enter workplace. Equip your organization to weather this period and maintain business continuity by embracing a preparedness mindset. Monitor the following dates for the 2024 U.S. election cycle events, which present added potential for impact on employees or your business.

  • July 15-18: Republican National Convention (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Aug. 19-21: Democratic National Convention (Chicago, IL)
  • Sept. 16: First Presidential Debate (San Marcos, TX)
  • Sept. 25: Vice Presidential Debate (Easton, PA)
  • Oct. 1: Second Presidential Debate (Petersburg, VA)
  • Oct. 9: Third Presidential Debate (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Nov. 5: Election Day

What’s Next

Provide a positive outlet for action and participation by evaluating, enhancing and proactively communicating your organization’s current and potential measures to promote healthy civic engagement now.

For more guidance, check out these resources on leading teams through a turbulent time:

The political landscape and related employee sentiments are changing daily and could impact your company culture and reputation, internally and externally. While these recommendations are tailored for the United States, democracy is on the ballot worldwide this year, so your organization may be called on to support democratic processes globally. Our Public Affairs and Talent + Transformation experts remain available to discuss these emerging issues.

Article

How Communicators Can Help Brands Win in the New Tech-Lifestyle Revolution 

May 10, 2024
By Tam Carneson

The information age has created a consumer who is more connected and empowered than ever before. This has given rise to, among many evolving behaviors and trends, (demand for) tech-enabled experiences across consumer products and sectors.  

In fact, today, consumers are looking for the same seamless and intuitive experience that they’ve become accustomed to, thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone — from the brick-and-mortar stores where they shop to the fashion and accessories that they wear, the homes they live in, and more — so much so that the predicted global market size for the fashion tech industry alone is USD 2.7 billion by 2025.  

In a world where consumer expectations continue to evolve with rapid technological advancements, changing personal habits, and heightened competition, brands must move with the speed of this change or risk being left behind. 

But it’s not just about technological frills. Consumers are increasingly prioritizing their well-being and that of the world they live in, and along with products that empower them to take charge of their lives effortlessly and the impact they’re making, they expect transparency and trustworthy information. Ultimately, they are looking for tech-infused products that blend seamlessly into their lifestyles, solve real problems and add value to their lives from brands they feel they can trust and be aligned with.  

So on top of their fitness tracker counting steps AND measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels, or their smart home devices learning their preferences to automate tasks, save energy, prevent waste, AND create a more convenient living experience, consumers are also looking for quick and painless resolutions to their complaints, the option of self-help solutions, access to brands via their preferred channels, personalized experiences, data protection and privacy AND honest and open communication. 

Expectations and the stakes have never been higher. 

So, how can marketing and communication professionals help brands navigate this new landscape? Here are a few steps to take: 

  1. Understand the Audience: Research consumer expectations and pain points and identify the specific problems your brand’s tech-lifestyle product can solve. 
  1. Focus on User Experience: Prioritize clear communication and education about (new) features to avoid user frustration. 
  1. Craft Compelling Stories: Go beyond technical specifications and tell stories that showcase how the tech integration delivers personalized experiences that enhance the user’s lifestyle and align with the brand’s core values. 
  1. Address Concerns: Be transparent about business practices like data collection, manufacturing processes and sources, and especially about mistakes and efforts to correct these. 
  1. Measure and Adapt: Monitor feedback and sentiment and be prepared to adapt communication strategies and product features based on evolving user needs. 

The crucial role marketers and communicators play as businesses navigate this rapidly evolving world cannot be understated. As strategic partners, we bring a unique perspective to the table, including data-driven decision-making, timely market and cultural understanding and impactful storytelling ability. Businesses that understand this — working to integrate technology into their processes and products and prioritize user experience while staying true to their brand identity and delivering honest and engaging communication — will win.  

Article

Asian Investors Seek Diversification Amidst an Uncertain Global Economy, According to New FleishmanHillard Report on Asset Management in Asia

May 6, 2024

Performance and Credibility Continue to be Major Factors for Investors Picking an Asset Manager

HONG KONG — Investors across Asia continue to look to diversify their investment portfolios amidst an uncertain global economy, according to FleishmanHillard’s The Future of Asset Management in Asia 2024 report.

The report, published with research by TRUE Global Intelligence practice, features analysis drawn from an online survey of 1,250 investment professionals in Asia, with 250 respondents each in, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Mainland China, Singapore and South Korea between March 30 and April 10, 2024. The report also includes an overview of the latest trends in Asia’s asset management industry.

The 2024 report highlights the key risks currently identified by investors. The majority of investors (42%) are most concerned about slow global economic growth or even a downturn, followed by persistent inflation (24%) and geopolitical tensions (16%). In response to these uncertainties, nearly one-third of respondents (29%) plan to shift their investments towards lower-risk options, while 23% intend to maintain their current risk profile. Notably, investors from mainland China stand out as 49% see more buying opportunities and are increasing their risk appetite or actual investments in high-yield instruments.

While equities funds (51%) and fixed income funds (34%) remain popular among Asian investors in the coming year, there is a growing interest in diversifying portfolios. Investors are now showing enthusiasm for private market investments, particularly in private equity funds (15%) and private credit funds (15%). Respondents believe that these alternative investments can enhance and diversify their returns, complementing traditional stocks and bonds (90%), and helping mitigate overall portfolio risks associated with economic downturns (90%).

In terms of investment sectors, AI (49%) continues to be the most favored sector for the upcoming year, followed by the internet sector (34%), biotechnology and healthcare (33%) and technology, media and telecoms (33%). This indicates a strong preference for new economy sectors that have experienced rapid growth despite global economic challenges.

Patrick Yu, Asia Pacific lead of FleishmanHillard’s Financial and Professional Services sector, commented on the findings, stating, “Investors are seeking to diversify their portfolios to build resilience during this period of global economic uncertainty. Private equity and private credit funds, traditionally favored by institutional investors, are now increasingly attractive to Asian investors. This presents significant opportunities for asset managers to expand their product offerings and communications strategies to cater to the needs of Asian investors.”

Similar to last year’s report, the performance (93%) and credibility (92%) of asset managers remain the most critical factors for investors when choosing an asset manager. Other important criteria include knowledge of individual managers (87%) and the public profile of the asset manager (86%). While the environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitment of asset managers is still considered important (78%), it has declined slightly by four percentage points compared to the previous year’s survey.

Furthermore, Asian investors prioritize sophistication in risk management (86%), transparent fee disclosures (86%) and transparency in communication with customers (84%) as the most important qualities for overseas asset managers operating in their local markets.

Yu emphasized the importance of transparency, profile and reputation for asset managers, highlighting, “More than ever, demonstrating transparency and having a strong profile and reputation are key for asset managers. Credibility and performance are fundamental to these qualities, and it is crucial for asset managers to elevate their strategies, product offerings and ESG commitment to make a difference in the highly competitive environment in the Asia Pacific region.”

The survey findings also revealed:

  • Asia Pacific (54%) remains the most popular region for investment in the coming year, with Singaporean investors (69%) displaying the highest confidence in the region. North America (43%) is the second preferred region for investment, particularly favored by Japanese investors (58%).
  • Similar to last year, digital platforms (54% of total) are the most popular channel for fund patronage among Asian investors, driven by the variety of fund choices (83% of digital platform users). Independent financial advisers or bank intermediaries continue to be important channels (43%), alongside wealth managers (38%), reflecting that a significant number of investors prefer to receive expert advice through in-person meetings during fund patronage. In particular, mainland China and Singapore investors show an increased interest in purchasing funds from independent financial advisers (60% in 2024 compared to 53% in 2023 for Mainland China and 55% in 2024 compared to 45% in 2023 for Singapore).
  • According to the report, financial media (45%) remains the most popular source of information for Asian investors for funds and investment products. However, this proportion has declined by eight percentage points from 2023. Face-to-face interactions, including independent financial advisers or bank intermediaries (30%) and friends and family (29%), are also ranked as important information sources. Notably, mainland Chinese investors prefer social media platforms as their primary source of information (52%) compared to their counterparts in the region.
  • Regarding ESG, the most important commitment from asset managers, as cited by investors, is “walking the talk” and taking action in proxy voting in listed companies (82%). Transparency in ESG data and protocol (79%) and clearly defined ESG goals and objectives (79%) are also highly valued.

FleishmanHillard’s The Future of Asset Management in Asia 2024 report includes quantitative data and qualitative analysis on the asset management industry in Asia. All 1,250 respondents self-identified as having traded or invested in at least one of the following: equities funds, fixed income funds, ETFs, alternatives, balanced funds, PE funds, digital assets or cryptos. A Mainland China focused report, The Future of Asset Management in China 2024, is also available for asset managers interested specifically in this growing market.