The 2020 election season will be exciting, chaotic and likely tumultuous.
There will be issues that resonate with the public as well as those that only certain primary voters will care about. Candidates’ character will be attacked. Some will tout their experience, and others will present themselves as offering a fresh approach.
News media outlets will rank the debate winners and losers, voters will be targeted on social media as never before, and we will all hear the bipartisan plea: When will all this end?
Amid the election-year chaos, companies can embrace the 12-month “moment” and come out ahead.
For example, health care will stand front and center. From my experience as a senior advisor at HHS and the FDA, health care companies and their industry groups are sometimes reluctant to jump in and take advantage of the moment; it’s easier to stay under the radar.
During election seasons, health care companies have a choice: to highlight how their products, services, employees and ultimately their mission help patients and the public health, or to keep their heads down and hope they don’t get hit in the crossfire.
Companies can seize key moments to bring their issues forward: the presidential primaries, televised town halls, the Democratic and Republican conventions, and the presidential debates.
What isn’t sufficiently considered is how companies can best position themselves in these key moments. Opportunities abound to advocate for their issues, tell their stories and protect their reputations.
Regardless of the industry, if you and your corporate leaders lean in and look for the right moments to shine, here are five key points to keep in mind:
1. Know your core principles and your policy positions, and make sure they are written clearly from the customer’s viewpoint.
2. Be a trusted resource to policymakers, candidates, staff and reporters, and maintain an active line of communication with them. In particular, the importance of digital communication can’t be stressed enough, as highlighted by my colleague Bill Dalbec’s study and article.
3. Look for ways to be present at key moments, in person or through a representative. In doing so, make sure you know your industry’s policy positions and whether your company’s positions match them. Then communicate your company’s views in a clear, effective manner.
4. If you are an employer in the U.S., don’t be shy. This is the year to highlight your company’s domestic footprint—in other words, highlight your employees and your facilities. They are taxpayers in multiple officeholders’ states and localities.
5. Encourage employees to get involved and to vote. If an employer is raising its profile and caring about communicating its principles, then it should be encouraging employees to get out and vote.
Companies have a choice—to ignore, hide and wait, or to embrace the moment and look for the right moments to shine and tell their story.
If they do the latter, they’ll more likely be in the conversation in a positive way, taking advantage of earned media opportunities, and less likely to be a target and get blindsided.
With a vocal stand, they’ll be sending messages to employees and investors that the company is relevant and ready, willing and able to be an industry leader.
Jack Kalavritinos is a senior vice president with APCO Worldwide.