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Public Affairs in an economic downturn: how to recession-proof your Public Affairs activities

Crisis preparedness and management are essential parts of a successful Public Affairs strategy. Whether it is a pandemic, global conflict or economic downturn, being adaptable and flexible is a must. As companies and organizations eye a potential recession, what can you do to prepare your Public Affairs activities for an economic downturn?

Cutting costs is among the first things managements decide about when the economic outlook becomes worrying and Public Affairs tend to be among the most vulnerable functionalities of organizations that become victims of downsizing. However, a well-functioning Public Affairs department is critical when bracing for an economic downturn to ensure your company can withstand a recession. Staying in the frontline of EU policymaking allow organizations to better position themselves and be ahead of the crowd, be prepared for new legislation and benefit from new opportunities.

New challenges for Public Affairs

The recent example of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that those companies who remained visible and active in Brussels despite the insecurities and the strict working from home policies benefited the most from the changing legislative landscape as they managed to stay connected and maintain their access to key policymakers (e.g. successfully conveying messaging on keeping borders open for goods, review of state aid rules for companies that were hit by the pandemic). 

Recession-proofing is all about being as efficient and streamlined as possible: one way to achieve this is to consolidate and visualize the upcoming policy and market trends that impact your organization, map stakeholders and track engagements. Creating and maintaining an online repository for your co-workers where you can keep track of your activities can create a culture of seamless collaboration and transparency. Doing this will drive alignment and improve institutional knowledge as well as make your Public Affairs activities relevant and visible towards your management. 

More than ever, during an economic downturn it is vital to be aware of potential risks and threats that can be detrimental to your organization. Tracking key legislation can be a challenge for any company, so it is important to arm yourself with solutions that meet your needs, power your decisions and evolve with your priorities. 

What to expect from the EU? 

As the EU is bracing for the biggest economic recession of the past decades, the EU institutions are working hard to coordinate measures in view of mitigating its impact. It is yet unclear what extent and how long the downturn will last but learning from previous crises, the EU will use the momentum to build upon a more sustainable and energy-efficient and -independent policy for the EU27. Therefore, we can expect that in the wake of the crisis, the European Parliamentary elections of 2024 as well as the policy agenda of the new European Commission will further embrace the twin priorities (sustainability and digitalization) of the Von der Leyen Commission and taxonomy will be also in the heart of the new institutional work programme. 

Therefore, in order to stay up-to-date, remain relevant and able to influence policy making in the months ahead, continuous investment in Public Affairs and presence in Brussels is a key for success. Dr2 Consultants has already helped companies to effectively streamline their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to us if you want to learn more about our track record and approach of providing efficient Public Affairs support. 

This is an opinion article by Viktoria Vajnai, Managing Partner Dr2 Consultants