In the new second edition of Edelman's Connected Crisis study, agency head of digital crisis Dave Fleet says there was a concerted effort to search out some of the blind spots that last year's study may have missed.
"One of the things that jumped out to us," he says, "was this looming wave of potential labor issues. And that's not just things related to unions or labor relations, but also talent shortages, employee activism, and things like that."
Another major factor: "We saw a significant gap around expectations for businesses and their roles in society. So, where businesses should be getting involved in helping to solve or to get engaged in societal issues."
Fleet tells Simon that "companies need to be looking at a range of factors. Will it affect your license to operate? Will it affect your employees' abilities to do their job? And then last but definitely not least, one of the main criteria that we see for a lot of organizations is what's our credibility in the space? Have we done our due diligence?"
He also says that the growing imporatance of Gen Z complicates things considerably. "What we see with that group is a continued evolution of what we saw with millennials in the past is that generation got a lot more involved in their working life. And what that means for us is there's a big gap when you look at that group versus Gen X, which is making a lot of decisions at a senior executive level in the workplace."
Fleet stresses the importance of "having a closer pulse on the opinions of the workforce" to help gauge how a company deal with any changes in how they hould react to social issues.
But perhaps the real secret to successfully handling a crisis is preparation. "The companies that do best in a crisis are the ones who prepare ahead of time." Fleet tells Simon that the premium on prepreparation is only rising. "This is a world of crisis now. We're seeing just a series of events that are happening constantly."
He also has some advice for smaller companies that don't necessarily have the kind of resources to bring in the kind of help a firm like Edelman can give. "Step one would just be to assess your current level of readiness and preparedness. I think starting to have conversations with other parts of the organization is really important. There's a lot to be done that you can chunk it into small pieces. Don't wait for the crisis to hit to get started."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]