First – if your business has survived 2022, you deserve a resounding applause and a strong pat on the back. Post the pandemic boom, this year has recorded layoffs that has surpassed even that of the 2009 global financial crises – and we still have five more weeks left to the year. So, if your business is still standing, you are doing something right.
So how do you sustain that result in 2023, given the very grim economic outlook being predicted? In September, the World Bank published a comprehensive study that pointed to a global economic recession and a string of financial crises in emerging markets in 2023. This November, a Bank of America survey found that 77% of fund managers believe a global recession is imminent.
Back home in Nigeria, corporate Nigeria will deal with the economic implications of a currency redesign in January, national elections in February and national population census in April. Obviously, these activities will have a direct impact on businesses and so should not be underestimated.
This is a crucial time for businesses as they set business objectives and targets ahead of 2023. It is the right time for Business-2-Business organisations globally to be visionary about their communications strategies ahead of another year with high crisis potential. As a leading public relations consulting and advisory firm with clients across Africa, our concern about the potential increase in business crises has led us to put together this 8-point advisory guide to help you plan your business communications strategies ahead of 2023.
1) Create, Nurture and Amplify Owned Platforms / Databases.
With social media policies changing at a light speed and tech disruptions on standby – potential changes in Twitter operations following acquisition, and the 2021 Twitter shutdown in Nigeria come to mind – it would be unwise for businesses to rely exclusively on third-party platforms anymore. Create your own databases and mediums of communication that are largely independent of third-party policies, such as blogs and newsletters. You shouldn’t have to shut down communications with your audience because your go-to social media platforms have started acting up or even shut down in your core region(s). In fact, we predict the return of SMS marketing so you may want to consider collecting phone numbers of your newsletter subscribers as well. Certainly, keep a digital rolodex of your clients handy.
2) Invest in Business-to-Employee Communications.
For many businesses, 2023 may be the year for downward reviews of salaries or a modification of job perks. While there may be more layoffs in the offing, the scramble for talent still continues given population distribution and immigration patterns. Again, we predict that employee unrest will be a potential crisis area for businesses in 2023 so here is our advisory on how to head it off: invest in employee communications. Your internal communications program needs to be robust, and multi-focal communication strategies must be explored. Identify employee pain points through surveys, use survey outcomes to design bespoke interventions to address employee needs. Create bonding opportunities between management and staff, as well as among staff. But more importantly, share timely and objective business information that will give staff better insight into how the business is doing.
3) Adhere to Diplomatic Neutrality during Media Interviews.
When you are approached by journalists, remember that the media is also a business with their own interests. It is more than common for media representatives to seek breaking news and viral bits. You may be asked provocative questions about your personal opinions, political views or even confidential information. We certainly advise you to invest in media training for executives to learn to manage such situations and head off potential crises that could impact both the executive and the organisation’s reputation.
4) Establish and Nurture Executive Brands.
Let’s get to the point: if the CEO does not have an established executive brand, your organisation is losing out on visibility points. Because people do business with people, and more consumers prefer to engage humanised brands, your organisation will benefit significantly from the brand of the c-suite team. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is ready for your networking, create legacy projects that can deliver impact. Use the three point strategy for thought leadership positioning: speak, write and be seen. Ask us how.
5) Partner with Non-Aligned Media on Interviews and Op-Eds.
Not all media platforms stand by professional ethics and neutrality when power is involved. As elections draw nearer, be especially careful where your name appears and calculate possible reputational losses in advance. You may want to avoid association with certain media organisation that have an obvious political agenda.
6) Establish / Update Cyber Security Protocols.
Even if you don’t have an IT professional within your team to establish complex cybersecurity solutions, you must still find ways to reduce cyber risks. Be mindful to moderate spam comments with potentially fishy links, change passwords of departing employees` accounts once they exit and create a system of control to make sure official devices are used by designated people.
7) Embrace Neutral Language in Communication.
With the global community already full of heated and sometimes even hostile rhetoric, organisations should literally mind their business and empathically support their stakeholders. When corporate representatives of all levels encounter a tensed follower / client, it is important to treat their frustration from the point of concerns and unmet needs. A specialised digital communications training comes in handy to equip your team with strategic and non-violent stakeholder communications. Certainly review all corporate communication materials to adopt genderless language.
8) Engage a Strategic Communications Firm / Consultant.
2023 will require a lot of strategic thinking which is best done when an internal team with skin in the game shares ideas with an independent objective strategic partner like Mosron Communications. From a communications team set up that can deliver on KPIs that directly impacts on business objectives to bespoke communications and media training for executives, from strategic event conceptualisation and delivery to reputation building and executive brand management, Mosron Communications is a strategic partner you should have for your B2B business in 2023. Get started here!
What a constant reminder of this 8-point advisory? Download our infographic to use as a guide. You can also print out and paste for all team members to see.