By Chris Gilmour

An unfortunate aspect of working in a technology marketing and PR agency is that sometimes clients hit difficulties that mean they have to make staff redundant.

Even great tech marketing cannot protect companies from having to make life-changing decisions about the future of their workforce in trying times.

And it should go almost without saying that kind of announcement has to be handled with even greater consideration than the brand would give to a technology marketing and PR strategy for a product launch. As important as products are, they are not people.

Tough times call for tough actions that can damage a company’s reputation. But following these five public relations rules can help reduce the negative impact:

 

Be prepared 

Be sure to give your marketing and PR agency a heads up about the upcoming losses. It means any marketing or press releases that may appear insensitive can be pulled, for starters.

But it also allows your public relations team to begin preparing the assets you’ll need. Apart from a press release that outlines the scope of the lay-offs and the reasons for them, the PR experts can work on a Q&A that anticipates any additional questions the media may have so spokespeople can give consistent answers.

Be open 

By planning ahead, you’ll also have time to let the local authority and the area’s councillors and members of parliament know the news and your reasons for your decision.

Properly informing them of the decision and the reasons for it means they will not learn it second-hand and underlines that you realise their importance. It also opens up further channels for dialogue.

But be mindful that you must inform those affected first – you don’t want them learning of impending bad news because a politician has tried to jump the gun and make political capital out of your situation.

Your PR team can assist in this process.

Be apologetic

People are losing their jobs. Your company is responsible. Be empathetic. Say sorry right off the bat – it makes you look human.

But be unapologetic about your rationale

There are sound business reasons why you have had to make this decision. It’s not born out of vindictiveness, it’s supported by fact and reasoning.

Explain why the jobs have to go, what affect it would have on your company to continue as it is, and that these decisions are never easy to take.

Outline what you are doing for those about to lose their jobs – such as redundancy packages and any retraining or redeployment opportunities available.

Strike a confident tone about the future of your business after the redundancies ­– the lay-offs will hit staff morale so do nothing to reduce it further. 

Be upfront

There is a temptation in these kinds of situations to hide behind a press statement. But leaving words on a screen or a sheet of paper to do your talking for you appears cold and impersonal. 

Instead, humanise the message. Put a real person up to talk about the decision if any interview requests come in. Be sure they are fully briefed and given media training so that they stick to the company line.

 

We are tech marketing and PR specialists – with our fingers firmly on the pulse. Contact us on 0800 612 9890.

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