Close your eyes for a minute and let’s perform a thought experiment. Humor me. Travel back in time to January 2022. Remember what that was like? The global economy was rocketing out of the pandemic, tech companies were rapidly staffing up and developments in DeFi and Web3 were driving a wave of innovation. FTX was still solvent!
Now consider the predictions we all made during that time. There were jitters, for sure, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a destabilizing factor. But largely, optimism abounded. It’s hard to imagine pessimistic predictions a year ago, and yet the world tilted six months later.
So where does that leave us as we enter a new year? Here’s my take: the world is holding its breath.
We’re deeply fatigued by the whipsaw effect of the pandemic and runaway inflation and by endless social isolation followed by an outward explosion of travel, good meals at restaurants, and time well spent with friends and far-flung family.
Now it’s time for direction. Going forward, expect another six months (at least) of uncertainty as economies and organizations digest the true state of things. And yes – that’s a prediction, but the type of clarity we get during this time is most definitely still a mystery. There is no real consensus on whether a recession will or won’t happen and what a recovery would even look like.
For communications professionals, there are several ways that we can drive value amidst turbulence. First, it’s critical to find stories that provide scope and context within your organization. As a former journalist, this is what I always needed – not a rehash of current events, but some piece of information that provides deeper insight into what’s happening in the world. It could be a data point, an anecdote, or a takeaway that brings a fresh view.
Second, while it’s easy to shrink from public view, this is a moment when people are looking for answers (or at least someone who can help them understand what’s happening). Whether you’re at a large corporation or a high-growth startup, there is value in sharing experiences. It’s an opportunity to capture mindshare and drive discussion to set yourself up for the rebound.
Finally, for anyone within an organization charged with managing communications during a difficult time: be the sounding board to leaders and managers. This is a difficult time for the economy, but it’s a challenging time for many people personally. How an organization communicates will affect the overall trajectory of a recovery. More specifically, communication can have a calming and positive impact on employees as well as customers while continuing to move an organization forward. In other words, don’t go silent – your stakeholders need you.
So what about those predictions? I say let’s put them aside at the moment and navigate the challenges ahead in a collaborative and positive way. When we emerge on the other side we’ll be that much better off.