Mark Knight is a Director at Broadgate Mainland the London PR agency, specialists in financial services public relations amongst many other services.
It’s an unfortunate fact of business that, at some point, you’re likely going to have to lay some people off. No management team relishes the task of making workers redundant. However, sometimes there is no other option for cutting costs to keep the business afloat. A significant downside of making people redundant is that it can damage the reputation of your business, which can reduce brand loyalty and damage sales. In the paragraphs below, we will take a look at effective Public Relations strategies you can employ to rebuild your brand image and have the public perceive it more positively than before.
Don’t Hide Or Go Into Bunker Mode
One of the most fatal PR mistakes made by companies when announcing major redundancies is to avoid communicating directly with the press and workers. This causes the public to perceive that management are ducking questions and are looking after their own interests rather than being open and upfront. From the very first day that redundancies are announced make sure that senior managers address questions directly by issuing a statement to the media . At all costs, avoid going into bunker mode. Answering questions at the time may be uncomfortable however, from a PR perspective it’s far better to be seen communicating.
Avoid Anything Insensitive
There is understandably going to be a degree of grieving and anger from workers and their families as they are faced with insecurity and worry following being made redundant. However, if the reasons for the need for the redundancies to be made are communicated effectively, then normally there will be some degree of understanding from the laid-off workers and the surrounding community. Normally this will grow over time and the heat from laying workers off will die down significantly; that is unless a disastrous public relations move is made, which instantly kills any goodwill the company had built up over time. Examples of such terrible public relations moves, which companies make far more frequently they should, include announcing a pay rise for management soon after laying people off or openly criticising the workforce. Avoid these mistakes at all times.
Begin Branding For The Future
It’s essential that you handle the redundancies as tactfully as possible. Being as generous and understanding as you can will reduce much of the negative PR that may come your way from workers made redundant. However, ultimately, the long term success of your business is going to be determined by the quality of your products, marketing and execution of business strategy. In short, you need to switch media focus back to your actual products and business as soon as possible so as to move beyond the PR associated with the redundancies. Consider running a new marketing campaign, product promotion or even launch a new product onto the market. From a public relations perspective, these strategies will be extremely helpful at shifting focus away from the negativity surrounding making people redundant, and will instead shift focus back onto your excellent products and business.