Given the dour news last week in the financial services sector, there might have been a collective sigh of relief from PR pros not working in those industries. Yet, anyone working in PR needs to be ready to consider how the news affects their audiences: employees, investors, customers, members – whoever they might be.
There is widespread concern about the health of the US economy – globally and locally – which has eroded the public's confidence in all companies and institutions. Third-party groups, investors, consumers, and employees will all be looking more closely to see how these entities line up with their concerns.
As it looks like there are more victims likely to come on Wall Street this month (perhaps even as we go to press), PR pros need to take the lead at all companies to lobby for a communications plan that will explain how the news does or does not affect their organization, whether in healthcare, consumer, technology, or fashion. Talking points should be prepared to explain the company's position and any vulnerabilities, and employees should hear directly from management how this is going to affect them. Those companies in the limelight now need to also prepare for tough media interviews.
Although some consumers might believe that their concerns are too far removed from Wall Street, it's fair to say a number of them are wondering what the news means for their banks, for their 401K, for their job, and a whole host of things. Companies need to be forthright and prompt in reaching out to consumers to clarify what is happening. Not all messages need directly address the financial crisis if it isn't applicable, but they should take into account the mood of the country.