For over 30 years, MWWPR’s Corporate Reputation, Issues Management and Public Affairs teams have helped brands and organizations across industries successfully navigated political uncertainty. Like never before, the 2020 campaign is presenting challenges for companies who may find themselves or their business sector or issues drawn into the fray. A proactive issues management game plan for the 2020 election is the only effective means of protecting a Company’s reputation, business relationships and even the bottom line. MWWPR has a unique ability to combine a deep understanding of the policy matters and campaign dynamics with access to candidates and their key staff.
Even though the primaries/caucuses are still months away, the interests of business and politics are intersecting on an almost daily basis. While companies are increasingly “taking a stand” on matters of public policy in areas from immigration to civil rights to trade to demonstrate their values, burnish their brand for customers and address the concerns of employees, candidates are speaking out more forcefully regarding businesses and industries on issues from antitrust to the environment to healthcare to agriculture. Corporate bashing has become a preferred way for candidates to test what messages resonate – or not – with the electorate.
Though the desire to keep an organization “out of politics” is understandable, this is no longer at the discretion of the Company. Simply put, hopeful watching and waiting is an ill-advised strategy.
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Here is how MWWPR can help your company navigate the new normal of the 2020 elections
Vulnerability Audit & Action Plan:
- Your company must be able to anticipate the news cycle, and realistically assess where your business is vulnerable to exploitation by candidates looking to score political points. This requires an opposition research approach aided by access to the actual candidates and staff to understand their current positions, and the context in which those positions can be evolved.
- Once the issues have been identified and influencers mapped, you can begin to craft a matrix or framework to guide the criteria for response, as well as the tone, level and approach of that response.
- The plan should consider factors such as any current policy pronouncement or public positions taken by your company (or others in your industry), prior expressions of support for candidates or issues (both by your company and its executives), locations of your facilities, characteristics of employees and key customers.
- Unlike elected officials, a candidate’s decisions are driven by success in the immediate campaign, which doesn’t always align with sound policy, facts or reason. They are often only superficially knowledgeable about any particular issue, and their advocacy for a policy detrimental to your Company may be a result of misinformation or lack of information entirely.
- It is not too late to help educate candidates and help shape their perspectives as well as the staff that is guiding campaign positions and messaging, particularly if those conversations can be prompted through an existing relationship. This dialogue also provides clarity on the positions and priorities of candidates and aids in the development of your potential response strategies and protocols.
- Though your Company may be preparing and has engaged candidates or their staff, you may still find yourself in the center of a conversation you would prefer to avoid.
- If this happens, the rules of good crisis and issues management still apply, beginning with the decision about whether to respond at all.
- If responding makes a story bigger, extends the news cycle or invites “tit for tat” response, it can be best to let a situation pass. In other cases, a quick, decisive and clear correction of the record is necessary to stop a potentially viral story in its tracks, keeping a small one-day story to the local news vs amplifying an issue in national media over a protracted period.
- Predictive analytics applied to social conversation and news can be an effective tool to make that decision.