Now that Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and the official start of the Brexit process, it is critical that we accept that this is really happening, get our heads out of the sand and make sure we are ready. Personal feelings on Europe aside, your company has an obligation to communicate effectively with your various stakeholders about the issue.
The trouble is, the certainty about business in post Brexit Britain is that nothing is certain. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared. Although we’re not quite in crisis communications yet companies need to be planning different scenarios with its business and customer communications.
Now is the time to be thinking about what Brexit means for your business – how it affects your clients, what kind of information they will want to know and when, and how you can position yourself as a ‘Brexit expert’ to get the edge on your competitors. Having a clear position on the issue creates an opportunity for you to be a thought leader. Because although the process of leaving the EU will certainly create challenges, it could also be a tremendous marketing opportunity for your business – provided you plan ahead and put a sound communications strategy in place now.
With that in mind, here’s our five steps to getting your communications Brexit ready:
1. Consider what Brexit will mean for your business and your clients
Think about what Brexit could mean for your business and your clients over the next year, five years…even ten. The polarised nature of the Brexit debate means it’s all too easy to upset customers. Rather than taking a knee-jerk reaction, take a long-term approach and consider the sorts of concerns and questions your clients may have:
- Will their business needs be affected as a result of the UK leaving the EU? If so, are you well placed to meet these changes?
- Is this perhaps an opportunity to introduce a new service?
- Which of your clients are likely to benefit, and which will suffer as a result of leaving the EU? Will you need to scale your services to them accordingly?
2. Don’t guess what questions your clients want answered – ask
There’s no point in creating content that your audience is not going to engage with. Therefore, find out which topics your customers are interested in particular which questions they want answered.
Find out the answers and you can address them in interesting press releases that could generate press coverage. Perhaps there is an opportunity to carry out a survey and dig into the feedback a bit further. There’s a genuine appetite for industry-specific stories on how the UK business scene could prosper, or suffer, post-EU and new survey findings are an ideal hook.
3. Put a plan together
Once you’ve established what issues you need to respond to, and where the opportunities lie you need to work out what you need to do to support them from a content and communication point of view. Use communications to gain control – think about different stories about the potential business outcomes and create the right narratives to support them.
4. Identify your Brex-perts
There will be myriad opportunities to comment publicly in the media about the implications of Brexit – if you can create your own narrative and set of messages, and prep up a spokesperson. It is therefore worth taking the time to appoint someone who is responsible for following all the latest developments and keeping their ear to the ground. This could help you to pick up good stories which you can pass on to the press and raise the profile of your business in the process.
5. Plan ahead for positive outcomes
Regardless of the uncertainty, Brexit provides an opportunity to set your business apart. Think about different stories about the potential business outcomes and create the right narratives to support them. Stay ahead with a little upfront thinking, make notes of any interesting developments and keep asking yourself what it all means for your own business and those of your clients.
The government may have been caught off-guard by what the result of the referendum, but you shouldn’t be caught out by what happens next. The next two years will go by very quickly, so ensure that your business and your industry are well positioned to thrive no-matter what.