27 August 2019

Communicating through uncertain times: 7 tips on building your Brexit comms plan

More and more clients are asking us how to prepare for Brexit.

We wrote about this back in February, but a lot can change in 8 months, and a lot has! 

Brexit is a tricky one for comms teams: it’s unknown, it’s changeable and it’s everywhere. As internal communicators, it’s our role to steady the ship, keep colleagues engaged, informed and reassured and remain alert and flexible with our comms approach.

If you’re wondering what to do between now and October 31st, here are our 7 steps to help you make Brexit a little less spooky. 


Scenario planning 

Map out the potential outcomes and assess the impact each one would have on your business: 

  1. Brexit deal on October 31st
  2. No Deal Brexit on October 31st
  3. Extension on negotiations

Think about what each scenario would mean for: 

  • Colleagues – be specific to roles, departments, regions, those working/living abroad 
  • Customers – inside and outside of the EU
  • Managers and leaders – their role as communicators in each scenario


Set your comms principles for Brexit

In the heat of the moment, we can make quick decisions, and they’re not always the best, or most strategic ones. As Internal Communicators, this can sometimes put us in a difficult, reactive position. Safeguard against this by agreeing with senior stakeholders the principles that you will follow. Here’s an example:

  • Comms will be open and honest 
  • Where possible, difficult messages will be delivered face-to-face by line managers 
  • We will only comment on XYZ, not ABC
  • We will communicate with colleagues at least once a week, even if we have very little to say 


Identify spokespeople 

Identify your messengers. Who is the right person to front this? Consider their credibility, authority and authenticity. You may have different spokespeople for different audiences. Get them ready, engaged and lined up to deliver consistent messaging.


Prepare statements and key messages for each outcome

Give yourself time to think by preparing your key messages now, whilst the heat is off. Involve the necessary people and get buy-in at this stage. This will mean you can act promptly and without delay come October.


Map processes

Be clear on approval, sign-off, roles and responsibilities. Essentially, this is crisis management (or at least it could be), so streamline your processes and make sure everyone is clear on their role. The last thing you want is comms getting stuck in the system as you wait for leaders to sign it off.


Prepare your feedback channels

Whether it’s a dedicated email address for employees, a group on your enterprise social network, a managers’ action group or a new area on the intranet, set up the employee feedback mechanism now. It doesn’t have to be visible or active now. It just needs to be ready. 


Know your influencers

In every business there are motivators and detractors. The loud voices – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Who are yours? You’ll need a strategy to manage them, but first you need to know who they are, if you don’t already. Map them and then think about how you can engage them. Check out our recent post about influencers to help you identify yours. 


Not sure where to start? We’re running Brexit planning workshops to help work out the WHO, WHAT and WHEN of colleague engagement around Brexit, where we explore each scenario through the eyes of your people. Let us know if we can help! We promise we’ll make quick decisions and won’t delay the workshop date…

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