Fauci on COVID comms missteps, Grimes encourages AI collab and more 

Plus: Snapchat goes ghost in responding to complaints.  


Multi-hyphenate actor and activist Harry Belafonte died at 96 years old with a long list of notable achievements and accolades under his belt, CNN reported. His timeless crooning and winning smile captured the hearts of many during his performances over the years. When Belafonte wasn’t dazzling a crowd, he was heavily involved in civil rights. Belafonte was also a good friend to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   

His work and activism often went hand in hand, according to the article.  

“I’ve often responded to queries that ask, ‘When as an artist did you decide to become an activist?’” he previously said per the CNN article. “My response to the question is that I was an activist long before I became an artist. They both service each other, but the activism is first.”  

Thank you for your work, Mr. Belafonte. Your impact will continue to live on for generations.  


Fauci fesses up to COVID communication shortcomings  

Dr. Anthony Fauci has some regrets.  

The nation’s former top infectious disease expert looked back on his COVID-related communication efforts, among other shortcomings, the New York Times reported.  


“It was, perhaps, an impossible job,” the article stated. “Make one man the face of public health amid an unprecedented pandemic, in a country as fractious as the United States, and there were bound to be disappointments and frustrations, and they were bound to get personal.”  

Fauci admitted in the article that “nothing was done perfectly” but he always steered people back to science.  

“But what I can say is that, at least to my perception, the emphasis strictly on the science and public health — that is what public-health people should do,” Fauci said.   

He admitted specific mistakes around communicating the limitations of the first COVID vaccines and the risk of death for elderly people versus the general population. 

“Inherently, communication in pandemics is difficult under the best of circumstances,” Fauci said in the article. “What has been so troubling to me as a health official is when you are dealing with a moving target, the evidence is evolving and new data becomes available, but you get so many different people with their own sets of data that are not real data. But even in a perfect world, it would not be easy.” 

Why it matters:  Fauci owns up to his communication mistakes and shortcomings and openly talks about what went wrong. Admitting a mistake, even on a global scale, is a noble attempt on his part to right some wrongs. It’s also a reminder that evaluation is a vital part of every communications effort, including huge, world-changing crises. By examining what went wrong, we can learn to do better next time.  

Though hopefully, we don’t have another public health crisis on this scale for a long, long, time. 


Inclusive content strikes a chord with Asian Americans  

A Nielsen survey identified how the Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community responds to representation through advertising. This community spends its money with brands that put inclusivity throughout their advertising. 

The report tapped the AANHPI audience and studied their brand loyalty, including where they shop and why. The AANHPI community is 46% more likely than the overall population to buy things from brands that have inclusive advertising. In 2022, 24.5% of Asian Americans spent money on fashion from brands that featured inclusive advertising; while 23.6% supported pet care brands, 19.9% purchased from travel brands and 23.4% bought electronics, the study found. 

“The AANHPI audience has made it clear – through their voices and dollar spend – that they desire for their stories to be seen and heard,” according to the report. “Studios and advertisers can tap into the growing value of authentic stories and inclusive representation to engage an audience that is eager to see itself represented on screen.”   

Why it matters: Brands always consider deploying more inclusive content when communicating key messages to stakeholders. Thinking about what motivates your diverse stakeholders’ purchasing habits can shape future communication tactics for the long haul, especially with this population group.  


Grimes wants your best AI impersonation of her voice  

Canadian musician Grimes (AKA Claire Boucher) wants the public to tap into their creative side and make a song using “AI-generated versions” of her classic sound, NPR reported.  

“We’re making a program that should simulate my voice well but we could also upload stems and samples for ppl to train their own,” Grimes posted on Twitter.  

Grimes plans to share 50% of her royalties on the best AI-generated song using her voice, the article adds.  

Why it matters: Using AI to connect with the public in collaborative ways in this case is an engaging technique that builds hype and rapport with the public. Allowing fans to get in on the fun legally and creatively could serve other brands well.  


Snapchat’s My AI draws criticism  

Snapchat’s My AI is becoming a thorn in some users’ sides, Mashable reported.  

 My AI, which features OpenAI’s Chat GPT technology, lets Snapchat subscribers message the bot with questions and conversations and more. However, it is becoming a bit intrusive for some, according to the article.  

“My AI is pinned to the top of users’ Chat feed, above even their pinned and recently snapped friends,” according to the article. “If you don’t subscribe to Snapchat+ for $3.99 a month, there’s no way to remove My AI from the top of your feed.”  

The article included a TikTok from @fishnecks who was unhappy with My AI being pinned above her boyfriend.  


Numerous commenters expressed similar frustrations in Snapchat’s Twitter announcement.  

Why it matters: Any social media update, no matter how minor, will bring complaints. But with so many users unhappy with My AI, and the possibility of them leaving the platform altogether, according to the article, Snapchat needs to communicate more on the issue at hand.  

While they are understandably thrilled about My AI, Snapchat could be a little more responsive to complaints after its rollout. Leaving users with more questions than answers, and no firm plans to address issues can result in some unhappy users who just want to be heard.  


Sherri Kolade is a writer at Ragan Communications. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching Alfred Hitchcock-style films, reading and building an authentically curated life that includes more than occasionally finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at sherrik@ragan.com. 


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