Is this the new normal?
With a 20% drop in GDP, the end of the furlough scheme in sight and economic storm clouds ahead, business leaders are assessing the impact of the pandemic on their organisations and planning the changes they will need to make for what will be a new normal for corporate Britain.
While every business is unique and the plans made particular to each situation, they will all need to be communicated consistently, empathetically and to all audiences.
There are 10 essential elements you need to consider and prepare when planning the communications strategy for any business change or restructuring programme.
1. Establish your narrative and stick to it: Ensure that you have an agreed and articulated core narrative and consistent messaging about the business decisions and the reasons for it. And strictly stick to it across all audiences and communication pieces to avoid confusion.
2. Scenario plan: Map out all possible scenarios that you are considering ahead of the announcement and make sure you have communications plans for each scenario.
3. Map your stakeholders: Map and categorise all the people and organisations you need to be considering for engagement, working out who needs to be told what and when. This could include unions, employee groups, regulators, sector bodies, suppliers and more.
4. Pre-prepare your media: Develop a media strategy and press statements. This includes developing an escalation process and reactive messaging in case of any leaks.
5. Make a timeline and stick to it: Once a strategy has been decided upon, put together a comprehensive timeline and task planning matrix to cover all aspects of the announcement.
6. Prepare content and templates: Develop a suite of communication materials in support of your announcement: emails, letters, FAQs, social media posts, videos, etc.
7. Script your presentations, meetings and interviews: Write scripts and talking points for senior leaders who are fronting face-to-face communications and meetings.
8. Establish a press office: Ensure that you have 24/7 press office support in place for the announcement and the media and stakeholder interest that will follow.
9. Keep communicating with your stakeholders: Prepare a post-announcement outreach and meeting programme with regulators, government, industry bodies and other key stakeholders as necessary.
10. Don’t forget your internal comms: Ensure that there is a programme in place for ongoing employee engagement and communications with those both affected and unaffected by the changes.
Communicating around restructuring, or any business change process, is all about preparation – use these top 10 tips as a guide and do your preparation before making your announcements to give yourself the best chance of successfully getting your message across and defending your reputation.