Perspectives: Preparing for potential storms in 2024

Perspectives: Preparing for potential storms in 2024

'Perspectives' is a Telum Media submitted article series, where diverse viewpoints spark thought-provoking conversations about the role of PR and communications in today's world. This Perspectives piece was submitted by Patricia Malay, Client Services Director at Bud.

You could be raring to hit the ground running as we enter this new year. Or, like many, hitting snooze for the nth time and wishing for things to slow down again. It’s difficult not to, especially as experts paint a picture rife with potential economic tremors, cyber shadows lurking online, climate sirens growing louder, and the possibility of social unrest bubbling beneath the surface.

For PR and marketing professionals like ourselves, it's not just about crafting more campaigns, planning budgets and managing brand perception - it's about identifying and weathering these potential storms before they even hit.

Economic downturn: Ride the tides
The fear of an economic downturn casts a long shadow as murmurations of its worsening continue to ring through. Rising interest rates and geopolitical tensions threaten to unleash a global recession that could translate into job losses, even tighter budgets and the spectre of closures. It would be wise to revisit your communication strategy now, not just for your external audiences but for your internal ones, too.

How transparent you will be, how you will manage the impact on your stakeholders and how to prioritise actions so your organisation’s true value continues to shine through, must be determined. Authenticity is key. Share stories of past financial storms your company has weathered, and these may help to demonstrate your commitment to long-term stability.

Cyberattacks: A very clear and present danger
Ransomware, data breaches and cyber espionage continue to evolve into even more sophisticated threats, making businesses of all sizes vulnerable. Throw AI into the mix, and it gets even scarier. Your communication strategy needs to be both proactive and reactive.

Be vigilant about training and updating your employees on the latest threats, turning them into the first line of defence. If a breach occurs, transparency is paramount. Acknowledge it promptly, communicate containment measures and keep stakeholders informed through every step of the recovery process. Reinforce your commitment to cybersecurity and invest in robust security systems.

Highlighting your efforts to stay ahead of evolving threats goes a long way in building trust and reassuring customers.

Climate change: Beyond greenwashing
Extreme weather events are becoming the new normal, disrupting operations, threatening safety and impacting supply chains. Too many companies have made the mistake: this is not the time for greenwashed platitudes.

Communicate your genuine commitment to sustainability through concrete actions like green initiatives and responsible resource management. Outline your contingency plans for extreme weather events, demonstrating your preparedness and commitment to employee safety.

Collaboration is key. Partner with environmental groups and government agencies to raise awareness, advocate for effective solutions and show that your organisation is part of the solution, not just talking about it.

Social unrest: Navigating discontent
Political polarisation, economic inequality and ongoing social justice issues can create a tinderbox of emotions. As PR and marketing professionals, we are responsible for fostering open dialogue within our organisations. Visit your DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) commitments and encourage conversations about sensitive topics by creating safe spaces for these discussions to happen.

Creating a culture of inclusivity and respect does not happen by accident. Work outwards as well and evaluate your corporate social responsibility. Engage in community outreach programs, support initiatives that address social inequities and demonstrate that your brand stands for something beyond profit. Most importantly, maintain neutrality and factual accuracy. Avoid taking sides in political or social conflicts and focus on providing reliable information and promoting calm discourse.

2024 may or may not be the year we fear it will be, but effective communication can be our compass. By preparing for potential storms with clear and proactive strategies, we can guide our organisations towards a more resilient future.

Let's not just build brands; let's build trust, foster understanding and weather these and other challenges the year throws our way. We can safeguard communication and make it so it steers through the turbulence and does not add to the confusion, and we can serve as the guiding light so the brands we champion continue making a meaningful impact.

Patricia hails from the Philippines, where she has spent the past 20 years leading global agencies in Manila and working for local and international clients. Most recently, she held global and regional roles at BCW, FleishmanHillard and Havas, where she developed her expertise in crisis, branding and DE&I. She has experience working for tech, tourism and aviation, lifestyle consumer goods, entertainment, logistics, commercial real estate and healthcare.

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