First there was Brexit, then Trump and now May’s general election announcement. UK businesses are getting used to buffeting a political sandstorm while trying to keep their own businesses heading in the right direction. And at the same time, preparing themselves for the best and worst case scenario of any decision to emerge from public ballot – expected or otherwise.
For business leaders, there is an ongoing struggle between 1) where to focus their energies to secure the most stable future while 2) following, and often contributing to, discussions around the changing nature of business and work, automation and our ageing society among other issues.
For communications professionals the issue is in many ways similar. On the one hand it is crucial that they continue speaking to their customers, offering insight into the services they offer and their industry as a whole, reassuring those that engage with the company that it is business as usual – whatever the political climate.
On the other hand, they can’t afford to ignore the concerns of employees who worry about the impact of each political announcement on the stability of their jobs, their ability to stay in the country, the location of their offices etc. Employees are the face of a business to all that come into contact with them and they need to be reassured and confident in their positions in order to offer a positive outlook. As such, with every statement or comment that is issued by the company, communications professionals must consider the internal, as well as external, implications of it.
Further, as the media take stock of the impact of political decisions on the local landscape business leaders will increasingly be asked their position on – often contentious – issues. And not always with any warning. An initially harmless meet and greet may take a natural turn into a heated political discussion. And, if communications professionals haven’t planned for this possibility, it can leave them having some awkward discussions with both C-suite and media contacts alike afterwards…
So what’s the solution? The long game unfortunately may be to wait it out, see what happens and make the best of the decisions made by the wider British public.
And for now? Planning. Think about the issues which might affect your clients or your business and agree a position (neutral or otherwise) around it. Make sure business leaders are prepared and in agreement too. The last thing anyone needs is to crisis manage a political hot potato in one of the most turbulent periods in UK history.