With political developments changing every hour, the only thing certain about Brexit is that not planning for it leaves your business vulnerable. Astute.Work’s managing director Sarah Waddington lays out five ways that your PR team can help ensure your position is shored up whatever happens.
1. Situational analysis
One of the key roles of the public relations function is to provide information to management teams to help scenario plan and inform decision making. This combines knowledge within the company, such as staff and customer insight, with external data - from government policies, industry research, market reports and supply chain feedback to media coverage.
This gives you an immediate handle on context and offers a sound basis on which to carry out PESTLE and SWOT analyses.
2. Risk assessment
The PESTLE checklist helps understand what political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors are likely to impact your organisation.
Having gathered this information, your PR team will be able to cascade this into a SWOT analysis, looking at internal strengths and weaknesses, in addition to the external opportunities and threats faced.
With Brexit, key areas of focus are people, goods, capital and services.
While a strength might be the bulk of your trade being within the UK or outside the EU, a weakness might be a heavy reliance on employees from the EU, meaning an urgent need to help them apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
One threat might be businesses wanting to continue to trade with the EU after Brexit not having an EORI number. An opportunity might be accessing the Brexit Preparation Fund on offer to help mitigate risks and maximise growth opportunities.
A good PR professional will work with operations and your legal team to source the right data to inform your planning and put your next steps into place.
3. Contingency planning
One of the most valuable roles of the public relations practitioner is to contingency plan and now is a critical time to do it, starting with a risk register if one isn’t in place already.
This identifies commercial, operational and reputational risks and mitigation in the case of worst case scenario. A first response action communication cascade should be agreed so due process can immediately be followed if needed.
As an example, reputational risks around Brexit could relate to the loss of key contracts, supply chain problems or off-shoring. A list should be compiled to see which issues can be mitigated and decisions taken on how and when to communicate key subject matter to stakeholders.
4. Stakeholder communications
Ensuring all stakeholders are up to speed with any company changes is crucial.
PR professionals are experienced in creating stakeholder communications plans which set out who you need to speak to, in what way and using which channels. They’ll also ensure a feedback mechanism is incorporated to gather feedback.
Key audiences will include employees, investors, customers, suppliers, influencers, media and more. Being on the front foot is important to maintaining confidence. Never give a no comment and never let people hear bad news from the media.
5. Monitoring is crucial
Finally, as per point one, knowledge is power so ongoing data capture is a valuable exercise.
The PR function should have social and mainstream media monitoring in place to identify industry insight, trends and issues before they happen.
Don’t scrimp on the cost – having a constant feed of business data is more than worth the investment.
Businesses preparing for Brexit can access help and support via the North East Growth Hub Brexit Toolkit. If you’d like help with any of the above, please contact Sarah Waddington at Astute.Work at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07702 162704.