According to McKinsey we face a structural break where patterns of behavior have changed overnight and will not return to the status quo. It’s the end of an era and it remains to be seen which companies will be leading industries where the underlying structure has changed dramatically; writing the rules for the new economy. The following is adapted from FleishmanHillard Global: True Intelligence.
As the South African Government begins to ease restrictions, companies must communicate clearly their changing business models, both internally and externally, to manage stakeholder expectations and build reputation.
Just like at the onset of the pandemic, how you communicate, and how you behave as an organisation will shape your relationships and your reputation for the foreseeable future. Context will be key as economic markets and business performance fluctuates and layoffs and reduced working hours continue to occur.
All successful crisis recoveries share one characteristic. The seeds of recovery start at the earliest stages of crisis response. Despite the size of this crisis, and the severe pressures that so many organisations are confronting today, leaders need to allocate a percentage of effort now to look ahead to multiple recovery and resurgence scenarios. Among other factors, their teams need to anticipate how they will manage relationships and communicate differently in an economic environment shaped by new expectations from consumers, employees, shareholders, and many other business stakeholders.
There is no precedent or playbook for how this will look, but we do know that the process must be carefully choreographed with a focus on building trust and reflected appropriately across all internal and external communication channels. To prepare for resurgence consider these elements:
- Listen to the marketplace, sensitivities and trends so that communication approaches, messaging and tactics can be re-evaluated to retain relevance
- Be clear and definitive in your message
- Relook content by considering changing media consumption habits
- Make the best use of online communities for support
- Focus on employee engagement and advocacy
Clare O’Donovan, Director, FleishmanHillard SA