Navigating through the societal debate: how do you stay resilient as an organization?

October 12, 2023

Imagine, your company is under fire. Soon the societal debate takes control of the conversation, while the reality is more nuanced. Everything about your organization suddenly appears to be wrong according to public opinion, politicians, media and other important stakeholders. Therefore, you gather a communications crisis team to formulate an appropriate strategy and ensure that your side of the story is told and, in doing so, limit the greatest potential damage. And? It worked, your story is told, and the fire goes out. At least for now, because how do you move forward from here? How do you ensure that you remain resilient while becoming increasingly involved in the social debate? How do you prevent such situations from happening to you (again)?

Preparation is key

In order to be resilient as an organization, preparation is essential. You want to prevent situations as described above as much as possible. To do this, it is important to know what is going on in society and what the role of your organization can play. Moreover, it is necessary to look beyond the consumer. Organizations that do not take enough responsibility are more often criticized by increasingly articulate civil society organizations and politicians. Organizations will greatly benefit from thinking about the following questions before escalation occurs:

  • What societal topics align with what you stand for as an organization?
  • What is your role and what societal topics fit your role and your brand (including mission and values)?
  • Where can you make a substantial difference (with your core business)?
  • What topics affect your key stakeholders?
  • What do stakeholders and general society expect from you and your organization?
  • Where does your social responsibility lie and what is your license to engage?

Credible, sincere, and relevant

Only organizations that are credible, sincere, and relevant are successful in the debate. Therefore, you need to constantly listen to what society wants, for example through social media and online news monitoring. Recognize the issues surrounding your organization and actively commit to making a transition to a better outcome. For example, invite local residents, politicians, and other relevant stakeholders to informational meetings where they can ask questions, voice concerns and start initiatives for the benefit of the transition. By being transparent and proactively in raising issues, you create a sympathy buffer as an organization.

The approach and answers to the above questions are different for every organization. At Omnicom PR Group we can help your company or organization by researching, and determining, and guiding you on how to effectively and credibly communicating to the outside world, as well as internally. .


A communication plan is also needed internally because internal employees are one of your most important stakeholders. They are the ones who need to deeply understand your organization and vision, as well as maintain trust in the company. After all, in this time of uncertainty, trust is more important than ever. Research shows that communication from the management team is the most credible source of information, regardless of the topic. A culture of trust must be created at the top. Communications and HR departments play an important role in advising senior leadership to set the right tone for the organization. It is important to provide people with as much stability and security as possible, which increases efficiency and productivity. This requires more communication and transparency: open conversations between managers and employees. When employees feel they are trusted, they feel more engaged. This remains essential to employee job satisfaction and will make your employees your most important ambassadors, who are and remain proud, for better or for worse. This will only be of added benefit to external communication.

Role of the communications professional

The job of the communications professional is to work with management in order to put what is going on in society on the agenda and convey the nuanced message credibly and effectively. This has several purposes:

  • To facilitate the entire process around responding to external factors and monitor reactions;
  • To also be the challenger and connector where necessary;
  • To regularly hold up a mirror: what is currently happening in the outside world and what is appropriate for my company and other important stakeholders? Sometimes this also means not playing an active role in the debate. Is the organization ready for it? What does it take to make it so?

It is a challenge to keep looking at your organization with the same keen critical eye as an outsider. As consultants, we can help you stay tuned in and bridge to the vision and communication needs of all stakeholders involved.

Support needed

An agency such as OPRG can help in all areas. In research and analysis, in formulating your perspective on the matter, getting your message across, and positioning it effectively.

We facilitate online surveys and sessions and help coordinate all aspects of communication surrounding the entire process. We also help you in mastering the skills needed to fulfill this role in the constantly evolving/changing stakeholder landscape itself. Additionally, we offer support in the areas of monitoring, issue and crisis management, and mapping the measurable effects of communication activities.

Would you like to discuss this further? You can! Call us or fill in our contact form.