A swift economic recovery post COVID-19 is possible only when both the public and private sectors work together hand-in-hand and cooperate with each other in all departments. Such an approach is not only practical but also mutually beneficial to both the parties. Here’s how: The government is providing massive financial support to the corporate sector so that companies can rebuild themselves and are back on track once the pandemic is over. Meanwhile, the government is also urging private businesses to support it in its mission to manage the ongoing crisis. Businesses should therefore rise to the occasion and demonstrate their role in the rebuilding of their country’s economy.
The virus outbreak has presented companies with an opportunity to build on their public affairs work, i.e. their relations with the government and decision-makers. For corporates, it opens doors to direct communication with the relevant stakeholders, such as government departments, civil servants, business groups and professional/trade organizations. Public affairs also allows companies to identify market opportunities, through the development and protection of reputations, both personal and organizational.
The public affairs industry has developed over the years into a sub-branch of public relations. It is a complex communications discipline as companies are not always able to understand how best to galvanize support and conduct themselves in an ethical and transparent manner.
In our quest to find out more, W7Worldwide recently conducted a Twitter poll asking organizations in Saudi Arabia: As we work towards recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, what steps are you taking to align your recovery plans with government policies?
Out of 892 votes, 15.1% of people polled in English and 24.9% in Arabic chose “Support Remote Working,” while 18.9% of English voters and 9.4% of Arabic voters picked “Increase Public Affairs.” Moreover, 24.5% of English voters and 19.7% of Arabic voters selected “Agile Future Planning” while 41.5% of English voters and 46% of Arabic voters chose “All of the Above.”
Government departments and policymakers are increasingly engaging in virtual dialogue with different entities. Companies must ensure that they use this means of communication to participate in boasting their ties with the government and other decision-makers in line with government objectives and public health guidelines. While nothing can replace formal in-person meetings and events, online platforms such as video calls, webinars, virtual events, email, and social media are proving to be the best ways to keep in touch with the many stakeholders amid the ongoing pandemic.
Increase Public Affairs
A crisis such as this offers organizations an opportunity to strengthen corporate engagement with government entities to positively influence future plans and policies. Indeed, public affairs is an integral part of decision-making for post-lockdown economic recovery. Often led by the chief executives, the objective of these efforts is to build a responsible and respectable reputation of the organization. Moreover, companies are tasked with the responsibility of helping governments pay off massive debts incurred and for arranging health and social services. This is why they should engage closely with the government and demonstrate their support for government policy and reinforce public health messaging and campaigns.
Agile Future Planning
Governments across the world are working on urgent recovery efforts to bring their economies back on course. Corporates should keep track of the developments by staying involved all the time so that they are able to respond to sudden changes in legislation or regulations that may have a significant impact on their operations. Businesses should lay out a new plan taking into account the new challenges posed by the pandemic and other factors such as taxes, environment, and employment rights.
As the poll results indicate, the right way to go for companies is to implement a combination of all three approaches so that they are able to weather what is possibly the worst public health crisis in decades. Never has it been more critical than now for both the public and private sectors to come together and forge a way out of the economic gloom.