According to a survey by The Conference Board, CEO confidence has dropped to 34 in the third quarter of this year- the lowest such result since the beginning of 2009.
“CEO Confidence declined to its lowest level in a decade,” says Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Tariffs and trade issues, coupled with expectations of moderating global growth, are causing a heightened degree of uncertainty. “
“As a result, more CEOs than last year say they have curtailed investment,” she continues, “In a separate poll of CEOs and CFOs (conducted in September), we found that a large majority believe the recent trade disputes will have a lasting impact on their business.”
Thanks to current economic conditions, CEOs have grown ever more pessimistic. Only eight percent of business leaders think conditions are better compared to six months ago, down from thirteen percent in the summer. Moreover, almost three-quarters of CEOs surveyed say conditions are actually worse, with a full 67 percent saying they expect economic conditions to worsen in the coming months.
Regarding short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months, CEOs are also more pessimistic than before, with only 13 percent of CEOs envisioning an improvement in market conditions in the short term.
Business leaders’ assessments of current global conditions has worsened over the year, declining especially sharply for China and Europe. Escalating tensions over Brexit are likely a major contributing factor, while sentiment for India, Brazil, Japan and the US have also declines.
When market conditions are like this, good public relations is more important than ever before. Branding is a critical part of any business plan, let alone a business looking for success in a downturn.
Branding is about building customer awareness, and telling your story to a global market. If confidence is low, a good story can be a powerful tool to get things moving. Savvy business owners should be using the current slump to get an edge over their competitors: create a sharp PR strategy to project your brand story to the world.
Keep in mind, too, that a high quality brand story takes time to build. If customers are currently confused about who you, and your business, are, then you need a PR overhaul. Sluggish market conditions are an ideal time to conduct some housekeeping. When conditions improve, you’ll be more than ready to hit the ground running.
When sales are low, your team are probably less pushed for time than in the busy months. Use this time to get your team together and brainstorm what it is that sets your business apart; compile notes, and collect words and images that could help tell your story. Together, you can begin to build the beginnings of a powerful brand story.
CEO confidence in the economy may be low, but this isn’t an excuse for businesses to rest on their laurels. If there was ever a time to invest in a good PR strategy, it’s now.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations.