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6 October 2015

What businesses could learn from Theresa May

Written by: Katie Waring, Director at Edelman

Corporate Reputation

It has been reported that Theresa May has today said that immigration brings no economic benefits to the UK in her speech at the Conservative Party conference. Regardless of what you think of the politics, the speech itself has been largely refuted by the media, with many reporting that she has overlooked factual evidence on immigration (including a report by the OECD  and the Home Office).

Whatever your stance on immigration, there is a lesson to be learnt from the reception of Theresa’s speech today.

Edelman counsels businesses to have a point of view, but in order to maintain credibility in the eyes of consumers and stakeholders this should always be supported by evidence. This is not to say corporates have to keep schtum on any issue where there are contradictory points of view, instead it needs to be acknowledged and credible evidence cited in support of your argument. Our Trust Barometer data shows that a key driver of trust is consumer belief that businesses are putting customers before profits and have integrity. So before making an intervention on a policy debate, save yourself weeks of reactive and defensive communications by posing the following questions:

– Do the stakeholders and media you want to reach take the evidence cited against your position seriously and believe it to be credible?
– If you do nothing will that point of view continue to gain traction?
– Do you have equally credible and robust evidence to support your arguments?
– Are you seeking to intervene because you genuinely believe your point of view protects the best interests of your consumers as well as your business (rather than a cynical move to protect profits)?

If the answers to all four are ‘yes’ then it is right to intervene to get your view out there, and you are doing it for the right reason.

Image by DIFD – UK Department for International Development (Flickr: Home Secretary, Theresa May, speaking at the Girl Summit) [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr Creative Commons

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