As the owner of a PR consultancy, you’d perhaps expect me to say that. Political persuasions aside I’m going to want to try and keep things ‘business as usual’ for the good of my team. But, in the wake of one of the biggest announcements in modern British history I genuinely do believe now is one of the most important times to keep communicating.
Some business men and women are rejoicing at the ‘leave’ decision, adamant that the move will make our country stronger. Others are devastated with the result and fearful about what the future holds for the UK. And there are many who simply don’t know what to think – after all, who knows with any real conviction, what will happen next and when? Things are changing by the hour, and the landscape is likely to be this variable for months to come.
But, whatever your views (and I was certainly shocked with the outcome), we have to look forward.
Many of our questions will probably remain unanswered for some time, as we would be naive in thinking the renegotiation will be settled quickly. However, in the meantime, I genuinely believe the worst thing businesses could do, is grind to a halt. Put things on hold. Hibernate.
In the midst of uncertainty, caution is understandable. I’ve certainly been thinking through and planning for a series of ‘what if’ scenarios in recent weeks. But one of my biggest fears is that businesses and consumers will now stop spending. If this happens, the danger of a recession becomes much more than scaremongering.
As a business you therefore need to maintain those all-important communication channels with your audience. You need to continue to give your customers reasons to do business with you. If you’re renowned for your expertise and advice, you need to keep sharing that guidance especially during a time of such uncertainty. If you’re known for your organisational culture and vibrancy you need to show that this hasn’t changed.
Such communication is just as important within your business too. You must talk to your employees about their roles and your organisation’s future. The last thing you need is a recruitment and retention struggle on your hands. If you thought morale and engagement was important before, it has just reached a whole new level.
To a certain extent, it may be a matter of keeping up appearances. I am NOT suggesting you are dishonest in your marketing. Now is a time to ensure transparency and maintain/build trust. But, even if you are surprised, disappointed or worried about the Brexit decision, you should look for and promote positivity, rather than retreating. At this moment in time, confidence matters.
This is all, of course, my humble opinion. There are many more people in the business environment better equipped than me, certainly in a political respect, to comment on the likely journey the UK will encounter moving forward. But a client wisely said to me as we prepared a Brexit press statement together on Friday, that now is not the time to panic. As a business community we encounter change on a daily basis. We have grown smarter and more agile following the economic turbulence of recent years.
We’ve learned to think differently as we plan ‘what’s next’ for our organisations. We value the opportunity to collaborate and learn from our peers, rather than simply fear competition. And we’ve continued to innovate and push boundaries, often when other factors are stacked against us.
We are equipped with the knowledge, skills and passion to tackle the challenges that Brexit throws at us, to ensure the country does emerge stronger.
So let’s keep talking.