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Surge Capacity in Corporate Communications

December 19th 2022

While attending an event recently related to the supply chain, a main takeaway for me was the need to invest in and plan for surge capacity so that the supply chain could absorb the ebbs and flow of consumer behaviour. 

This means making investments through systems, people and technology that can be activated at the right moment. This got me thinking about how the idea of "surge capacity" could be applied in other industries including communications consulting —the business of Coast Comms.

Now for some background. The communications and public affairs consulting industry has been under significant stress since the start of the pandemic as client organizations were unsure about their own future viability. 

The pandemic also saw communications at the front line of the never-ending and constantly changing public health restrictions, orders and guidelines that needed to be communicated effectively and clearly across every industry, every demographic and every channel (in multiple languages too!).

The pandemic may be in the rear-view mirror (maybe? hopefully? fingers crossed) but the challenges facing us certainly are not. In fact, the list of crises and challenges facing British Columbians continues to grow. It includes a burnt out healthcare system, an affordability crisis that is leaving generations behind, more natural disasters and rising temperatures caused by the climate crisis and a tightening labour market that further exacerbates all these crises as leaders, politicians and policymakers try to solve them. If that wasn't enough to be pessimistic about, the Deputy Prime Minister has warned of difficult days ahead as there seems to be an inevitable oncoming global recession, which will certainly impact Canada and possibly result in higher unemployment but will also keep the pressure on organizations and leaders to navigate it.

So, what can organizations do to respond and mitigate this?

Like the supply chain, it is time for organizations to invest in their own surge capacity. 

This investment can help ensure high-quality results continue to be delivered even when organizations are short-staffed due to not being able to find the right people to join the team or not having the budget certainty to invest in permanent staff. By working with consultants regularly, you have a partner who is familiar with your organization, team and objectives. This further increases the effectiveness and likelihood that the consultants can be activated if and when you need them.

We are brought in for 3 different purposes: 

  1. To reinforce the advice our very smart clients are already giving to their executive colleagues and board
  2. We have unique expertise that our client may not have (e.g. crisis communications)
  3. We are merely extra support to do the work our clients could if they have time

Often this third purpose is seen as something to do at the last minute only, or when the desperation hits. As an extra at best, or an unfortunate cost centre at worst. 

But the lesson we should learn from the supply chain is that we need surge capacity. Otherwise the system can and will shut down when it is overwhelmed by disruptions, threatening our very ability to provide goods and services to our market and undermining the trust of stakeholders, clients, and more. 

We consider our clients as true partners - we work side-by-side and collaboratively, and always feel appreciated and wanted (thank you for all that!). The lesson from the supply chain and its many near disasters is that integrating that surge capacity makes smart business sense. 

At Coast Communications we are here to help. Reach out to chat with us on how you can protect your organization with some surge capacity to support your communications and public affairs objectives.

Tyler Pronyk
Senior Manager, Public Affairs