Since political turmoil before breakfast became the new normal in 2018, reading the runes on anything other than tea is a high stakes game. But having digested the best news round ups, here are a few boiled down forecasts to consider for crisis communications and reputation management in the year ahead.
The High Street
The changing High Street will continue to occupy front pages and shoppers, as big brands manage the fall-out from flagging sales, profit warnings and closures. HMV called in administrators for the second time in six years at the end of December, potentially impacting 2,200 staff at 125 stores. Meanwhile ASOS reported the first online ripple effect before Christmas, blaming unprecedented discounting for poor sales.
Take out: Well-known brands need to make themselves heard, with key messages that explain the distinct and unique challenges they face, in ways which can be understood by all. Not every profit warning triggers “for sale” signs, so businesses must take the lead, reassuring customers and staff to avoid being labelled the next retail casualty.
Brexit in all its gritty detail will continue to occupy resource. Up until 29 March the focus will be on balancing the risk of alarm, with evidence of good groundwork for No-Deal preparations. Questions about what business is doing to manage supply and services, the cost this has in terms of people hours and how to ensure nothing will come at the expense of the customer, will inevitably come up.
Take out: Businesses asking these tough questions will be prepared so that beyond the 29th they have clear and agreed reassurances ready to share with all stakeholders. From customers, through to investors and suppliers these must be communicated consistently at all levels from social media, to internal comms and c-suite briefings.
Reduced plastics use and sustainability is the ‘New Hope’ for 2019. Activism and campaigning has prompted new regulation around plastic straws and trials of plastic bottle returns while high-end labels flock to get designs on recyclable water bottles, coffee cups and inside your kitchen cupboard.
Take out: With national newspapers counting plastics campaigns among their Christmas causes, businesses must evidence what they’re actually doing, to harness consumer and employee confidence and avoid accusations of ‘greenwashing’.
With early consideration of these critical issues, businesses can begin to shore up their corporate reputation, ready for what 2019 has to serve, whether its political turmoil for breakfast, lunch or dinner.