As the Presidential Inauguration Day approaches, I think it’s fair to say that many brands are running scared right now…not an emotion we necessarily expected because of a new POTUS.
Sure, big business always carefully considers the policy changes that may come from a new administration. I have been involved in many scenario planning sessions the consider how regulatory changes could affect a business that I was working on. Any highly regulated industry -- healthcare, insurance, financial services -- is smart to plan out responses to changes in policies.
It’s smart SOP, for any brand.
But President-elect Trump is bringing a whole new type of scenario planning to reality as we face his administration. He’s directly calling out brands and identifying areas that he thinks need addressing.
We’ve never seen this before. I’m making no political statements here. We’ve never seen this before. Nor have we seen the speed and directness of the call outs on social media. Ford and Carrier are just two early examples.
Any brand should be prepared for this new environment. Even if not called out specifically, many issues are common to any company within a given industry or even, quite honestly, common to us all. Entrepreneurs and small business owners may feel immune but your industries may very well not be. You could be affected without even knowing it.
So what’s a brand to do?
Here are a few suggestions to consider as you formulate an action plan. You’ll want a plan in place in case your brand or industry suddenly comes under scrutiny.
If you aren’t already monitoring news and social channels, then start. Pronto. You don’t have to do it by yourself, and you don’t have to rely on Google Search. There are many monitoring services available that can alert you to topics of interest. You may feel like you are doing this already, but I’ll bet it’s not as thorough or as timely as is now required in this new environment. Make sure you’re keeping track of those topics close to your business as well as periphery issues as well. They could all affect you, and you’ll want to be the first to know. Yesterday’s news may be too late.
Transparency is key these days. No one expects you to be perfect anymore, because we all know that’s impossible. But we do expect you to come clean about it. Not only when the spotlight is on you, but proactively as well. Become active on the social channels that make the most sense for your business, like Twitter or LinkedIn, and start to share where you’re at. You aren’t exposing yourself at all. Quite the contrary, you are becoming a part of the community that can band together to address issues when necessary. Be an active part of the community, so if something does come up you’ll already be engaged and won’t be alone.
Be your brand.
At all times, be yourself. Know who you are as a brand and act consistently no matter the situation. Being yourself is the best defense to criticism because at its most fundamental you are not trying to be something that you’re not. This applies to us as humans as well as to brands. The worst thing you can do should you come under a microscope is to suddenly change who you are. It’ll appear like smoke and most people feel like where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Hopefully this will get you thinking…and realizing that this all really does apply to your business. Along the way you should start formulating an action plan around those issues that you may feel are sensitive about your business, so that you can be proactive in your activities.