If the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum vote has taught us anything it is that a personally held opinion can have enormous significance if it suddenly used to illustrate the heralding of a new era. What happens when that personal opinion becomes the corporate line?
On Friday 25th June we all awoke to the news that the future of the country we live in would be moving into unchartered territory and for many that thought was a frightening one. The language of the news was post-apocalyptic, and the political turmoil that ensues has added to an overall sense of chaos.
Listening to George Osborne on 27th June I was struck by the clarity of his message ““In the meantime, and during the negotiations that will follow, there will be no change to people’s rights to travel and work, and to the way our goods and services are traded, or to the way our economy and financial system is regulated.” In one sentence he addressed head on many of the concerns facing the general population, and taught us a lesson which we would be wise to follow.
The challenge for business leaders and the communications teams that support them is how and what to say in the current environment. As voters and residents of the UK, we have all had a chance to express our personal opinions. What is proving more difficult and what many are struggling with now is what to say and how to represent our businesses.
The communications task is a clear one, while the big decisions that will be made on behalf of the country will take time to formulate and the timetable for withdrawal from the EU is currently unclear, businesses will continue to trade. Employees, clients and suppliers will be experiencing first hand the uncertainty played out so dramatically in the 24 hour rolling news cycle. What each of those groups needs from their business leaders is a strong and clear message about where they see the immediate future of the company unclouded by fear and personal prejudice.
We are just starting to see the beginnings of a few conciliatory views circulating on social media, the ‘we have to make the best of a bad situation’ posts. From a business perspective it is often much more complicated to understand what the future will hold when trade agreements, work permits and currency fluctuations are involved. But inaction and silence are the dark corners where fear and rumour flourish. Our country and our businesses will move forward while the politicians thrash out the finer points of our economic future. It is up to the leaders of those businesses to communicate their external strategy as clearly as they can to avoid having words put in their mouths or worse still to find that by battening down the hatches and watching from the sidelines a divided and scared workforce has morphed into a divided, confused and ultimately unproductive company.
Brexit: Personal opinion / corporate line.
by Lindsay Vetch