Communications will have to change; too much of it has neither engaged customers not employees

There has been a lot of recent discussion over how London will find it hard to re-open, that it will be a long journey to recovery as so many simply neither want to travel on public transport nor want to return to the often sterile office environments which existed. During the lockdown, many have found a real sense of community and belonging which has been missing in many lives.

It is a fair argument. London will recover and once again be a busy bustling centre. It has faced such pandemics before, just not for the past 360 years since the plague but it will be the financial hub of the economy and will attract wealth, the aspirational and ambitious. It is just a matter of time.

However, what does need to change is how companies do think about their communications for the harsh truth is that far too many people have felt disengaged by their companies, lacking real trust in both business leadership and in political leaders. In fairness, it is hardly surprising when one considers:

· In the early 00s, the concept of spin was very prevalent culminating in the argument for the Iraq War which lost many, and the long boom period which ended with the great crash of 2008/9.

· After the great crash, do you know what percentage of board directors lost their jobs against lower or middle-income employees? Only 1% more directors lost their jobs than would have in the normal course of things against the 1m who lost their jobs in the UK.

· Business processes grew at a rapid rate as culture and values declined. Over 57% of millennials do not believe that their employers have strong values or ethics in business.

It is not a great picture and in truth, most communications have been talking at audiences rather than truly engaging them.

Not true? The election results from Brexit 2016, from the US Presidential race 2016 and the 2019 UK General Election all took many by surprise. One of the reasons is that there has been a growing gap between the media’s perception and that of the average person. One suspects this has grown even more during Covid-19 lockdown where so many have become even more disengaged by and mistrusting of the media and comms. A recent report noted that 81% of people do not trust what they hear or read from either their own business or via the media.

It is a pretty poor situation and the hard truth is that companies are going to have to work far harder to communicate with more openness, honesty and authenticity. There is little choice as consumers and employers are already disengaged so something has to change. A change in comms strategies is an essential starting place.