“What Next?” A Perspective on the Next 90 Days: Fall Edition

October 20, 2020

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The current combination of uncertainty and unrest around health, economic, social, and political issues present the most complex communication environment in memory. Companies and organizations of all kinds face unprecedented operating pressure, internal tensions, and external uncertainties that all contribute to serious reputation and brand risk.

With the fall season comes colder weather, moving activities indoors and increasing risk of new surges – or even a “second wave” – of COVID-19 in the U.S. and other countries. As the political season approaches Election Day, actions related to racial equity, the ongoing global economic shock and market volatility, and the seemingly constant crisis atmosphere create more variables to consider than ever before. These span local dynamics, diverse perspectives, the siloed communities in social media and beyond, and perceived bias of traditional media sources. Further, uncertainty about Election Day and its aftermath are heightening concern.

School – be it in-person or online – is now in session, with routines beginning to be set as the general public continues to adjust to life amid the pandemic. Many look with optimism for a vaccine and a return to normal in 2021, but confidence in that timeline is in question. Attention in late fall will turn to the traditional holiday season where typical get-togethers, travel, shopping and traditionally larger events will be radically different than in years past.

Overall, this acceptance of a “new, temporary normal” appears to be setting in, so there’s no longer a pause in demand for information from companies, brands and influencers. Reaching your audiences the right way at the right time is critical to navigating the next 90 days. However, the decisions about whether and how to communicate also must be made more quickly and accurately than ever before.

Communication success during this time requires:

  1. Staying closer than ever to news events to anticipate the impact on employees, partners and customers/consumers
  2. Referencing data to anticipate what comes next
  3. Planning for various scenarios with the goal of moving quickly when the opportunity/need arises

If there’s a time to reevaluate, it’s now. Plans developed several months ago lack the context and lessons learned since. They need to be revisited. Anticipated organizational events and even public holidays present new challenges and take on new meaning now. The environment and expectations of core audiences have changed. New information is being made available constantly. The pandemic remains an evolution, and communications programs and responses must evolve accordingly.

 Upcoming Points in Time

  1. Oct.: Q3 earnings season
  2. Oct./Nov.: Supreme Court vacancy hearings
  3. Oct. 22: Presidential Debate
  4. Nov. 3: Election Day
  5. Nov. 10: Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) hearing at Supreme Court
  6. Nov. 26: Thanksgiving
  7. Dec. 8: Deadline for Resolving Election Disputes
  8. Dec. 14: Electoral College Vote
  9. Dec. 31: Brexit

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.