Insight of the month - How the crisis has broken down the disparities in corporate communications

A word with Florence Muls, Interel Belgium Managing Director

The crisis has disrupted many companies in their way of thinking, working or managing projects and teams. As many companies, Interel Belgium has demonstrated resilience and adaptation. I quickly realized that the way of doing communications and public affairs was changing deeply. This has required us to take a step back, analyze, identify our clients' new needs, innovate and adapt our service offering. I would like to share my insights about the changes in the consulting business induced by this crisis, how to deal with it and how to prepare for the current and upcoming challenges in the sector.

Yes, the crisis disrupted most companies’ plans with new strategic priorities, postponement or cancellation of projects, reorganization of work and integration of new ways of working sometimes in crisis situations. But above all, I observed a shift in the type of demands that arose and realised that the increasing number of companies restructuring came hand in hand with a growing demand for support and guidance in crisis communication and internal communication. The economic pressure on sectors that closed due to lockdown measures has also led to a growing demand for public affairs initiatives, for instance, industry federations willing to resume activities.

On the opposite, I also observed that the crisis was a momentum for some specific companies to step up and position their products or services as a solution. Another thing I noticed is that some companies were quite well-prepared to face the crisis, thanks to pre-existing digital services and agile business plans.

More than ever, consultancy agencies must challenge their clients' ideas and guide them towards the best decisions. It is also crucial to break silos in interconnected issues such as crisis communication, internal communication, reputation management or digital communication. These are no longer separated fields and in the wake of the crisis, clients need expertise in these increasingly interlinked issues. I am convinced that highly personalized advice, rather than a solution applicable to all companies, is essential to solve clients’ issues with appropriate solutions.

How can companies build a bright future in times of crisis? As mentioned by the futurist Raphael Thys, companies must be able to focus on the added value they bring to society and always use their purpose as a guide to adapt quickly in our changing world. I also think, as an entrepreneur and Managing Director, that it is essential to put the Human back at the heart of business. The real heroes when a company goes through a crisis remain its employees at all levels of the organisation. From the whistleblowers to the Managing Director and those responsible for resolving the causes of the crisis. The men and women of the company form the backbone and raison d'être of its activities. This is why internal communication strategy needs to be redefined. In times of forced telework, it is more than ever essential to reach and involve your workers efficiently using the right new tools.

We, at Interel Belgium, are here to help you and your teams go through this period of uncertainty and ensure a bright future. Read more about how we can help with internal communications, crisis communication, Public Affairs or Public Relations.