Keep your brand away from politics | Sunday Observer

Keep your brand away from politics

5 June, 2021

With Covid-19 seriously impacting the country’s economy with negative implications on the majority of businesses, politics has taken the centre stage more than ever before. Literally, everyone has a strong opinion on the performance of the government and political parties.

True, it’s hard to avoid discussing politics, especially when it’s the main talking point in the media and especially when most activities are linked to politics in our country. Various political persuasions divide managers and employees in an organisation, so it is certainly not a safe subject to be introduced in the workplace, where it can create a hostile and volatile environment.

It’s important to understand that even brief, off-hand comments or questions about politicians, government action that’s not relevant to your business, policies, and outcomes can lead to a heated debate and perhaps even an all-out office war.

Similarly, a seemingly harmless action, such as liking a controversial post on Facebook, can put you out of favour with business partners, colleagues, prospects and current or potential customers.

Politics is inherently divisive: even small differences in opinion can halt a budding professional relationship in its tracks, or foster an atmosphere of animosity between co-workers.

Stay neutral

You never know if the person that you are talking to — be it a potential client or even your own boss — was, is or will be officially involved in certain government activities indirectly or contributing to policy making. They could even be related to a politician at some level. Ninety-nine percent of the time, your political inclination has no influence on whether you can do your job well or not.

If someone insists on bringing politics up — either directly or through small talk — try to stay as neutral as possible. If you can, quickly steer the conversation in a different direction. Being candid and saying that you would prefer not to discuss politics in a polite and friendly manner can help maintain a relationship.

In our culture, most individuals think that he or she is better than politicians after electing them at the elections. Every individual looks at the performance from their own view point. Most not looking at the broader picture but depending on how the performance impacts them. Some have personal grudges over certain politicians and political parties due to personal experiences and they ignore the rest completely.

If you are forced into such a situation where politics come up and you decide to stay on course for whatever reason, just stick to the indisputable facts and avoid laying all your opinions out on the table. If you think that you are missing out on a work opportunity because you don’t want to engage in political talk, then you need to re-evaluate your professional priorities anyway, and consider whether it would be a good idea to enter into business with someone who pushes others into such talk.

In my experience, it’s best to stay away from these discussions in office as people don’t judge the performance of governments on a clear criteria including relative economic performance but only based on personal biases. The majority of our voters cannot forego the very basic needs of today to build a strong economy for tomorrow and they are the majority. They will continue to decide who rules the country and who goes to Parliament.

Do businesses depend on politics?

One common argument is that politics affects the corporate world. Although true, it’s not reason enough to get involved, especially when weighing the risks and mixing up priorities.

However, I think there are and should be exceptions to the “no politics” rule, such as when advocating for certain issues, especially those concerning human rights or the environment. You have to know your audience incredibly well before you engage in politics as a business. You should also be very careful of blurring the boundaries between supporting certain policies and partisan politics.

The bottom line is that people tend to take politics personally, which makes it harmful to business. It’s, therefore, wise to stay out of it unless, of course, your business is politics.

People don’t separate individuals from businesses anymore and therefore your personal thoughts in a public forum can damage your business. Today consumers form relationships with companies not only on the quality of their products and services, but also on how the company behaves and is perceived in the market.

Companies today have a wider role than before in society, in other words, they are required to be more responsible and one hundred percent transparent.

The implications of this, from a company standpoint, are that it requires a new way of examining who and what it is. This is more time consuming, more strategic and more expensive, but it is necessary. This is an important strategic role for PR in the future and it is already upon us.

Mind you, governments can give you back what they collect from you, minus administration cost and any wastage.

Don’t fool yourself by blaming governments for your inability to strategise, lack of skills to apply yourself and road map to develop your business. No government can help you with specific knowledge you need and skills required to stay competitive. There is only one way to win - Be the best you can be - Be better than your competition. This is the recipe to succeed in a declining market environment.