So here we are then. After two-and-a-half-years, the Brexit deadline approaching, and the UK will leave the EU.
Because, let’s be honest, after nearly a thousand days of political huff, puff and bluster, we’re not really that much closer to knowing what’s going to happen next.
March 29 *might* be the date we leave the EU, but equally, it might not. Whatever happens, it seems likely the Brexit beast, in one way or another, will continue roaring for some years yet.
All of which makes the idea of hunkering down and waiting for all this to blow over extremely tempting. But if there’s one thing we know it’s that uncertainty is anathema to business. And while the situation remains extremely volatile, that’s not to say there aren’t steps you can take to steady the ship from a communications point of view.
So whether you’re a leaver, a remainer or just a bored-of-Brexit-complainer, it’s worth asking the following of your business to evaluate your preparedness for the known great unknown.
- How might Brexit affect my business?
With the political landscape shifting by the day/minute/second (delete as appropriate) this is no easy question to answer. If you haven’t done so already, it is worth sitting down, evaluating your business and looking at how the different scenarios that could play out may affect your day-to-day operations in terms of supply chain, financial resilience, labour movement, customs & tariffs, and customer relationships. Comprehensive scenario planning can be time consuming, but it’s the best way to identify where serious threats sit.
- My customers are growing worried by the uncertainty. How can I reassure them?
Taking proactive measures to inform and reassure your customers is crucial. Many customers are seeking ‘weekly Brexit updates’ from key suppliers to give them reassurances that all possible planning is going into avoiding disruption to supply.
- My employees in the EU are growing worried by the uncertainty. How can I reassure them?
Very likely you’ll already have done this but keeping lines of communication open to offer regular reassurance could go a long way to quell concerns. It’s a good idea to map out those you need to reach and develop a strategy on how you’ll keep them informed and reassured using the appropriate channels. Some larger employers are providing guidance to non-nationals employed in their business to help them apply for citizenship etc.
- Do I have an adequate crisis comms plan and protocols in place?
If scenario planning has revealed previously unknown weaknesses or threats it may be time to check, update and review your crisis plan and protocols. A good crisis communications plan should establish the rules of how your organisation deals with a crisis and include everything from threat analysis, roles and responsibilities and guidance on what to do should a crisis strike. All too often in crises organisations find themselves on the backfoot and being prepared with a solid Q&A can save huge amounts of time and make a huge difference to how the crisis plays out.
- Should I throw my voice into the arena and become a thought-leader on Brexit?
Many businesses decided to steer clear of getting involved in the Brexit debate – and for good reason as being seen to a take side could have resulted in backlash from the other side. That situation has now changed somewhat as brands have become bolder in sharing their point of view, either because they see the opportunity of exposure in national media, or because they want to offer reassurance to stakeholders, or simply because they feel very strongly one way or another and want to try and influence the outcome. At this late stage, if you do decide to throw your hat into the ring, it’s advisable you have clear lines to take in terms of how it will impact your business.
- What could happen next? Where’s the best place to get information?
There is a huge amount of conjecture around Brexit and the truth is no-one knows with certainty. With the ground shifting as quickly as it is, what can seem a certainty today can sound laughable tomorrow, and vice-versa. Industry trade associations, Department of Trade, Chambers of Commerce can usually be relied on for sensible advice as can the civil service.
Here’s a list of resources you might find useful:
- The Government’s prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU tool
- British Chamber of Commerce’s Brexit checklist
- CBI’s page on Brexit
- IGD no deal Brexit check list
- Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer
Worried about how Brexit could impact your business? Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential chat about how we might be able to help.