Watching Brexit from afar, the strength of right-wing candidates in EU elections, and the scandal-charged elections in Mexico and Brazil, it is clear and probably nice to know that neither the US nor the UK has cornered the market on a Polarized Political Environment.
The challenge is the implication of all this for the industries, businesses and organizations we represent.
How do we avoid picking sides, or do we pick sides – or take a stand when they are aligned with our beliefs?
When do we assert ourselves? When do we abstain?
And in a world that will never be slower, how do we even survive and keep up as politicians, NGOs, consumer groups and online influencers seemingly want to use us as target practice?
Indeed the world we operate in today is much different than it was even a decade ago. It used to be that Content was King. In this always-on social and much more contentious world than ever, the Fight for Context is where it’s at.
Research tells us that, in most cases, it is better to engage than sit on the sidelines. If you don’t define yourself, you run the risk of leaving that to someone else, the outcome of which is not likely to be good.
Those long involved in full-scale government relations activities have often said the worst time to make a friend is when you need one.
Challenges in this disruptive era include:
Gaining cut-through in a conflicting, polarized and noisier world
Trivialization and over-simplification of complex and often inter-connected issues and groups
Lack of alignment internally and externally
Shorting attention spans on issues that can require 50+ years to plan
Anticipating change in expectations and demands
The ever-widening gap in mutual understanding and trust
My 10-Point Plan:
Be clear on what your purpose is as an organization – blunt attacks, boost positions. This is the 5th ‘p’ of marketing – product, price, promotion, place + purpose. It makes the case of your benefit to society
Take a position – know what you stand for but be relevant
Be the voice
Be difficult to ignore by harnessing evidence and making a case for the future
Know your audience – prepare for discussions ahead by knowing what matters to those sitting opposite you
Plan for a constructive dialogue
Brace yourself – negative campaigns and fake news are moving from politics to business
Be quick and engaged
Monitor and research – in this digital age you need to be ever-vigilant
Attend to the 4 ‘i’s: insights – ideas – integration – impact