The 5 stories PR pros need to know on Wednesday morning, 4.13.2016

Chatbots - the future of external communications?; BuzzFeed badly missed its 2015 targets, says FT; Napster founder donates $250 million to launch immunotherapy center; Sponsors say goodbye to Kobe Bryant; Listeria fears force Reser's products from shelves.

Kobe Bryant says goodbye to professional basketball tonight. (Image via Bryant's Facebook page).
Kobe Bryant says goodbye to professional basketball tonight. (Image via Bryant's Facebook page).

Is the future of external comms…chatbots?
Chatbots were all the buzz on the first day of Facebook’s F8 developer conference on Tuesday. But will brands trust them with their customer-facing communications, especially in light of Microsoft’s Tay being turned into a hate-spewing Nazi bot? Companies including 1-800-Flowers and weather app Poncho are giving them a shot.

BuzzFeed disputes FT report on its finances, but doesn’t provide details
The chairman of BuzzFeed pushed back against a report saying the millennial-targeting site badly missed its 2015 numbers and halved its 2016 targets, saying, "Anyone who thinks that this isn’t a terrific time to be in digital content is dead wrong." However, he didn’t provide other financial details about the company’s performance.

Sean Parker makes big donation to create immunotherapy institute
It’s not a billion dollars, but Silicon Valley bad boy Sean Parker is donating $250 million to found the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, which will include more than 40 laboratories., meanwhile, is giving away $20 million to improve technology for the disabled.

Kobe says goodbye
Tonight is the last game of Kobe Bryant’s two-decade career. Nike said goodbye to its longtime pitchman with the #MambaDay promoted hashtag on Wednesday morning. Bryant also starred in an Apple TV ad released this week with actor Michael B. Jordan playing on his retirement. This 1996 article in The New York Times looks at Bryant’s early deal with Adidas, signed when he was in high school.

Reser’s begins recall due to listeria fears
Reser’s Fine Foods is recalling macaroni and potato salads in 29 states due to listeria fears in its products, which are sold under its own and other brands. The company said no customers have reported getting ill after eating its foods.

What to know on Wednesday
Embattled fashion brand American Apparel lays off hundreds. Deutsche Bank halts plans for North Carolina expansion due to LGBT bill. BuzzFeed: How CEOs are the new statesmen. 40,000 Verizon workers go on strike. Panama raids offices of Mossack Fonseca. 

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