PLATFORM - Beyond Y2K - other issues to address in '99 - Richard Torrenzano, chairman and CEO of The Torrenzano Group, tells how to prepare for the millenium.
While we're all getting overwhelmed with information about Y2K, let's not overlook the fact that 1999 will be here in about 56,000 minutes.
All the following events may not occur, but you can be sure PR practitioners will face some of these issues very shortly. Are you prepared?
- It's the Economy Stupid and now it's Global: We are in the midst of the longest US economic expansion in history. Will it continue? If it doesn't, be prepared to communicate how this will affect your company's overall strategy. You must be familiar with the impact of how a recession could affect your company and its bottom line.
Shareholders, employees and other constituents will seek answers and direction if a recession occurs. Each has different communications needs.
Acquaint yourself with today's volatile global financial markets to provide spot-on counsel to top management. Even if your company derives no revenue from Asia and Europe, grasp the driving forces in these markets - they are your competitors.
- Mergers & Acquisitions: Chances are your company might be involved in an acquisition in 1999, as either the hunter or hunted. With prices at undervalued levels and with a record number of IPOs over the past years, many companies are ripe for the picking.
In such a situation, career and business management is vital.
- Network, network and network: You have to cultivate contacts outside your immediate circle. Also, you must understand how to demonstrate that you add value to the company. Never take your role for granted.
- Managing your business: Rethink and prioritize external and internal communication plans. Make sure they are aligned with your company's long-term strategy and vision. This is what top management is relying on you to bring to the table during such an event.
- Y2K:It's almost here and investors are concerned. Just look what happened last week when Wells Fargo announced Y2K problems. Understand how the emerging Y2K crisis can affect your company's image. Don't wait for and have to react to a crisis. Investigate potential Y2K problems in your company and industry, and chart specific communication needs. Create an action plan. Be prepared for media and shareholder backlash if you are non-compliant.
- On the Internet: Know where investors chat about your company. Read postings. Don't underestimate the media, mainstream or new media. Never let any inaccurate information go unchallenged for any reason. Inaccurate information will take on a life of its own, causing an immediate and severe downdraft of image and stock price, not to mention your own credibility as the person in charge of reputation management.
These are some of the major issues you can expect to face in 1999. While impossible to predict how the close of the millenium will turn out, our business is driven by markets and the media.
Top management looks to PR to manage markets and media expectations.
PR articulates management's strategy and vision to the press, industry and financial analysts, shareholders, customers and other special interest groups.
Don't wait for the ball to drop at the end of 1999. By then you've dropped the ball.