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Snap hires Laura Nichols to lead comms for policy and content

Center for American Progress

Snap Inc. has hired Laura Nichols, formerly head of communications of National Geographic Partners, as vice president of communications, Axios has learned. Nichols will be based in Washington D.C. and will lead communications around Snap’s global policy, social impact, and its content arm, Discover.

Why it matters: It's the first time Snap is hiring someone to manage its policy communications in Washington D.C.  It's also the first key hire made by Snap's chief communications officer Julie Henderson since she joined the company in late 2018. 

The details: Nichols joins Snap from National Geographic Partners, where she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer until her departure in July 2018. She worked closely with Henderson there, who was formerly Chief Communications Officer for National Geographic Partners' parent company, 21st Century Fox.

  • She was previously EVP of global communications at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and SVP of communications and strategy at the Center for American Progress (CAP).
  • Earlier in her career, Nichols spent eight years as an adviser, strategist, and spokesperson for former House Leader Richard Gephardt.
  • Nichols will work closely with Snap's vice president of global public policy Jennifer Stout, who was hired by Snap in 2017.

Be smart: Snapchat has been able to dodge a lot of the scrutiny that its peers have experienced over the past two years by focusing on user privacy and content moderation from the start. It has largely avoided headlines around fake news and election interference, and has had a relatively scandal-free year.

Yes, but: That doesn't mean it hasn't faced some policy hiccups along the way.

  • Last week, Axios reported that Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) planned to send a letter to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel asking him to "take action to prevent more children from being exposed to sexual predators and explicit adult content while using Snapchat."
  • While there hasn't been a lot of evidence that predatory behavior is a major problem on Snap, Blackburn's letter showed that policymakers are keeping an eye on the platform, regardless of the fact that it hasn't experienced as much drama as some of its peers.

The big picture: It's been a good year for Snap, which has invested heavily in a new executive team and new senior-level hires.

  • The company brought on Henderson last year shortly after poaching Amazon's Jeremi Gorman as chief business officer and HuffPost's Jared Grusd as chief strategy officer.
  • Snap's stock is up roughly 200% this year, after finalizing its redesign rollout, stabilizing its user growth and growing its ads business.

What's next: Nichols starts on July 22.