“What Next?” A Perspective on the Next 90 Days

July 24, 2020

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The current combination of severe uncertainty and unrest around health, economic, social and political issues present the most complex communication environment we have ever experienced. Companies, brands and institutions of all kinds face unprecedented operating pressure, organizational uncertainty and relationship destabilization, all leading to serious reputation and brand risk. New surges of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. and other countries, actions related to racial equity, the ongoing global economic shock and investment market volatility, and the crisis-atmosphere around the upcoming U.S. presidential election create more variables to consider than before. And those variables span local dynamics, diverse perspectives, “cancel culture” rampant in social media and bias of traditional media sources.

Amid the doom and gloom, the lines of communication are open and information from companies, brands and influencers is in high demand, so reaching your audiences the right way at the right time is critical to navigating the next 90 days. The biggest challenge is that the decisions on whether and how to communicate also must be made faster and more accurately than in the past.

Communication success during this time requires:

  1. Staying closer than ever to news events and anticipating the impact on employees, partners and customers/consumers
  2. Tapping data to look back in order to anticipate what comes next
  3. Scenario planning with the goal of moving quickly when the opportunity/need arises

Reevaluate Now

If there’s a time to reevaluate, it’s now. Plans developed several months ago lack the context and learnings of recent weeks. They need to be revisited. The environment and expectations of core audiences have changed. New information is being made available constantly. The pandemic is an evolution, and communications programs and responses need to evolve accordingly. Anticipated organizational events and even public holidays present new challenges and take on new meaning now. As you consider plans for the next 90 days, here are some key dates to keep in mind:

Upcoming Points in Time

  1. July 31: Employment/furlough relief expiration (“Income Cliff”)
  2. Aug. 8: PPP expiration
  3. Mid-Aug.: Back to School begins
  4. DNC (Aug. 17-20) and GOP (Aug. 24-27) conventions
  5. Aug. 28: March on Washington
  6. Labor Day: Election season kickoff; labor actions
  7. Sept. 30: Federal budget expiration

While this isn’t an exhaustive list and your respective industry may have other events that could be of similar importance to your organization, it’s best to take some time to evaluate how you should prepare for any events that could put you in a situation where you need to respond.

Outside of planning for the next 90 days, it’s also a good time to ensure that your current communications plans account for the latest issues and considerations of your stakeholders. Check out our Top 10 Considerations of things to be thinking about.