Contributed to EO by Eden Gillott, an EO Los Angeles member who serves the chapter as MarComm co-chair and is president of Gillott Communications, a strategic communications and crisis PR firm. She’s the author of A Business Owner’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting You & Your Business’ Reputation. We asked Eden how to set yourself up for success in 2024. Here’s what she shared:
Entrepreneurs have an appetite for growth that’s as varied and voracious as Bubba’s love for shrimp in Forrest Gump. As we embrace the new year, business leaders must adopt resolutions that not only spur growth but also build a moat to protect you and your business against potential crises.
We’ve noticed an overwhelming trend with our larger corporate clients with US$100+ million in annual revenue, who exist almost exclusively in the proactive zone. They maintain a vigilant stance to ensure that even a hint of a crisis doesn’t disturb their horizon. Ironically, organizations that make the news that we’re familiar with tend to be behemoth corporations that don’t appear to operate in the proactive zone.
So why aren’t the scrappier entrepreneurs also enjoying this sense of freedom and safety? Partly, it’s because we don’t typically like being told what to do and are more comfortable standing up against all odds to make things work. But just because we’re wired that way doesn’t mean our employees share our propensity for risk-taking.
Here are six anti-crisis commitments for 2024, inspired by recent real-world events, that can guide your business toward resilience and proactive stability:
1. Champion honesty and openness.
In 2024, prioritize transparency in all your business dealings. It’s not too late to start, and it’s better to do so uncoupled from a negative event that forces you to. A transparent approach fosters a culture where employees feel valued and heard, leading to higher engagement and loyalty instead of being asked to march toward an unknown goal or not knowing why. Honesty and transparency (up to a point) build a foundation of trust with stakeholders and can simplify the problem-solving processes.
2. Pay attention to the minor details.
Attention to minor details can prevent significant crises. Regularly review and audit all aspects of your business, from financial transactions to employee satisfaction. This helps in identifying and addressing issues before they escalate. The good news is that you’re probably already tracking a few of these in your KPIs, and even if you’re not, it’s easy to add them in.
3. Adopt a proactive approach to challenges.
Being proactive in business means regularly evaluating potential risks and challenges. A SWOT analysis once every few years isn’t going to cut it. Stay informed about industry trends and developments so you can anticipate changes and adapt strategies accordingly.
4. Be cautious with digital footprints.
From WhatsApp and Slack to emails and social media, your company’s digital communication requires careful consideration. It’s not simply about ensuring that what’s posted publicly reflects your company’s values and professionalism, but that what’s typed behind the scenes is also in line with that. Regularly review and update your digital policies to keep up with evolving best practices.
5. Regularly review and enhance crisis management strategies.
Similar to continuously updating your SOPs for better business performance, make it a routine to revisit and update your crisis management strategies. Involving different departments in these reviews can provide fresh eyes that can more easily identify blind spots and offer more comprehensive solutions than trying to tackle this on your own.
6. Encourage a culture of learning and agility.
Create an environment where learning, adaptability and collaboration are not only encouraged, but rewarded. Offer development opportunities (even if it’s outside their current role), encourage team members to share their insights, and foster a collaborative and adaptable work culture. By doing this, you’ll not only position yourself for growth but also build an adaptable, more engaged workplace culture that’s ready to pivot together.
As we step into 2024, remember that just as there are endless ways to serve shrimp, there are numerous strategies for business growth and preventing a PR crisis. It’s about balancing that scrappy, against-all-odds attitude with smart, proactive strategies. So, let’s channel our inner Forrest and Bubba to approach business challenges with as much enthusiasm and variety as their love for shrimp. Don’t forget to choose your recipe wisely!
Want more insights to equip your team for the upcoming challenges in the new year? Eden shared 6 Strategic Insights to Help You Get Ahead of the Curve in 2024 on EO’s Inc.com channel.