A practical response strategy

Inform: briefing internal and external stakeholders

Straight talks: Inform

Listen to Partner at Davidson Ryan Dore, Claire Davidson*, discuss the Inform element of our toolkit.

The UK has voted in a referendum to leave the European Union.

The outcome of the referendum and the on-going political debate continues to receive significant profile. Whilst most of the practical consequences for business are currently uncertain, they are potentially significant.

In managing the effect of the referendum result and preparing for the potential next steps it is important to ensure both internal and external stakeholders are accurately informed.

This paper summarizes some of the key points to address in any communications strategy.

Why inform?

Brexit will potentially have a significant impact on any business with operations, customers or suppliers in the UK or EU. Ensuring communication of the right information and analysis (and where appropriate opinions) is therefore important for a number of reasons:

The Brexit process could create significant risks for many businesses. Those risks may include loss of operational continuity, additional costs (for example in the form of new tariffs or the requirements of new regulatory or legal regimes), loss or redeployment of key staff and damage to supply or distribution chains. It is important that these risks are identified, scrutinized, mitigated against and progress monitored;
Whilst there is significant uncertainty as to the details of the withdrawal process, timing and the eventual shape of the UK’s relationship with the EU (and any changes to the EU itself), it is important to start preparing. This means ensuring that the range of possible outcomes is understood so that an initial assessment can be made as the potential impact on various aspects of your business and possible mitigation strategies;
The referendum result, the political fallout and media reporting have created significant concern and uncertainty. Whilst this cannot be eliminated, it is important to ensure people have the facts, to provide reassurance where possible and appropriate, to counteract the potentially damaging impact of rumor and misinformation;
The Brexit process is fluid and the outcome depends on the position taken by a range of players including the British Government, governments of other EU Member States and the European Commission. Issues still to be determined range from the macro (will the UK continue to have a “special relationship” with the EU) to the micro (how will very specific activities be addressed in regulation and trade). Well-informed businesses have an opportunity to try to influence the outcome in areas which matter to them; and
Brexit is not simply a risk to business. There are also potential opportunities for business which include capitalizing on exchange rate movements, possibilities to restructure for the better, and the prospect of new UK free trade agreements with non-EU countries. A proper understanding of the landscape is important in order to understand how to take full advantage of the opportunities.

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*Claire is a co-founder of, and a partner in, the firm Davidson Ryan Dore. She is not an employee, consultant, partner or agent of Hogan Lovells International LLP. Davidson Ryan Dore is a strategic communications consultancy that is working alongside Hogan Lovells on some matters relating to the UK withdrawal from the European Union. Davidson Ryan Dore is not authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.