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2024 election: Build your internal comms strategy now
In an election year, everything executives say and do can feel political — making it even more important they have a plan in place for when, why, and how they will choose the issues that impact their organization enough to speak on.
- Why it matters: If leaders aren’t equipped to handle the issues an election year brings up, employees may view them as uninformed, untrustworthy, or even unwilling to fight for them.
Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows that employees look to their employers — and trust them — more than they do new, media, or government sources. But that trust is hard-earned and easily lost, so we partnered with Mixing Board to ask more than 90 of the nation’s top communication leaders what executives will face in the year ahead. Their projections:
- Tension in trust. They may feel called upon to defend their political ideology and choices, which can often overshadow their intent and intended impact.
- Hyper-magnification. Everything a leader does say will be looked at under a microscope for extra meanings and inclinations.
- Urgency to speak. Leaders may feel pressured to provide clarity of thought, offer trustworthy direction, and follow through with action — all in a timely manner.
- A polarized workforce. Politics are deeply personal, and employees may find themselves on opposite sides, leaving leaders to find ways to provide the support or space employees might need.
Whether you face all these obstacles or only some, the course is clear: leaders need a plan for addressing political topics before they become a problem.
Provide direction amidst political discord
Any good internal communications strategy for addressing political topics will need a multi-channel approach that involves stakeholders from across the org. Only then can you address these issues with the care and finesse they deserve.
Your political communications playbook:
- Cross-reference key issues with your mission, vision, and values. Your employees will expect you to be consistent in these areas, so know what does and does not align — and be prepared to take a stand as needed.
- Revisit your strategy for issue management. Make sure your current plans still make sense and align with company values. Get key stakeholders on board with it before the pressure hits.
- Create listening groups. Hear what issues employees care about. Understand how the election might be impacting their day to day and personal lives. Prep the resources that will help them before they need them.
- Host conflict management workshops, webinars, or other events. Train leaders and enable employees to navigate disagreements and have productive discourse through events and programming.
The bottom line: Hot-button issues can divide society and colleagues, putting pressure on leaders to take a stand. To ensure employees feel valued and heard, leaders need to plan now how to address political issues before they become political divides.
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