It’s been a tumultuous few years. Brexit, a pandemic, Putin’s war, now a global recession. Businesses have faced a never-ending number of economic curve-balls as the way we live and work has changed beyond recognition. Many have been forced to take drastic action to survive; some by pivoting (see John Lewis’s move into the rentals market), some by making mass layoffs to reduce costs - the latest including Spotify and Google. Many have done nothing, perhaps paralysed by indecision, or waiting for calmer times.
Crisis communications - no longer a practice reserved only for hyper-regulated industries like healthcare and financial services - is going to be a key ask of all comms leaders in 2023.
As we head into another recession, one which analysts claim will be twice as bad as anticipated, we’re likely to see more disruption and closer scrutiny of business practices. At the same time it’s impossible to ignore the continued explosion of social channels; brands are still figuring out new player Mastodon to see what the audience looks like and the content that works there.
This all points to one question - how can comms leaders, particularly those with shrinking teams, be prepared to manage crises in 2023? Here are three places to start:
Data: work out what you have and where to find it
Whether you’re speaking to Gen Z or finance directors, every brand needs evidence to underpin a brand’s response to a crisis. Facing criticism of diversity on your board? Year-on-year improvements, investment in diversity training, recruitment targets - all of these can be used to underpin the credibility of a statement from your CEO.
Meticulous planning: audiences & channels
Meticulousness is more important than ever. Audiences are ever-more fragmented and understanding each of those important to your brand - including staff - will be crucial. Again, data can help here. Then, channels; in today’s world, comms leaders are responsible for a large number of owned and earned channels, so it’s important to know upfront what content, assets and messages are appropriate for each.
Educate your leaders
It probably won’t surprise PR experts that several of the examples in PRovoke’s crisis review were triggered or at least heavily influenced by the CEO. Make sure your brand’s leaders - particularly those who have never experienced a comms crisis - understand the importance of their role in these, and are ready to prioritise them when they come around.