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What the UK needs to do to stop a mass business exodus

Running out of the building, office professionals
John Lund | Getty Images

When it comes to managing any crisis with the public or media, a sense of urgency is required.

You can't take your time or tiptoe around answers in search of prose. The messaging needs to be forward-thinking, strong, decisive, direct and credible focused around the positives, while diminishing the negatives.

Unfortunately, the messaging for the U.K. gets a lot harder to follow now that Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his resignation. Essentially, this ship is without a captain to guide and lead through the country through the next patch of rough waters as the country prepares toe leave the European Union.

Equity and currency markets are already in chaos and the U.K. is at serious risk for companies jumping ship and taking their business elsewhere.

So what can the U.K. do now — from a messaging point of view — to keep this crisis from getting worse and inflicting serious damage on its economy?

Leaders from the Labour and Conservative parties need to step out of this leadership vacuum and detail an EU exit strategy won't destroy trade, business, the pound or their economy. As every trader knows, the markets hate uncertainty, so the U.K. must provide as many details for certainty that they can uncover.

They must articulate why trade and business in the U.K. won't suffer from isolation. Forget the past and quit dwelling on the vote because, even if you wanted to remain in the EU, belaboring the moment won't bring confidence. Instead, focus on the positive, like how the U.K. will be able to make faster trade deals with the U.S., China and other EU countries, since it won't be bogged down by EU regulation. Pivot to how this new world will benefit the UK and keep more money at home.

Messaging should also provide incentives for current trade partners. Of course, no government knows how trade will evolve under new agreements that have yet to be written, but leaders can provide a vision on why they will aim to lower trade tariffs, and incentivize trade without the bureaucracy from Brussels. Focus on the U.K.'s advantages as an export market. That hasn't changed following the EU vote.

The U.K. must push this messaging with urgency. Politicians are notorious for debating and talking when the ship is sinking. The U.K. ship is not sinking — it's the second strongest economy in Europe. So, it will have life after the EU. It might be pushed to the back of the queue, as President Obama suggested, but even if it's at the back of the line for trade deals, there's not a global business in the world that won't want to reach their consumers.

Commentary by Mark Macias, head of Macias PR, a global public-relations firm, that has run media and branding campaigns for politicians, tech start-ups, financial firms, nonprofits and companies. He's also author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media." Follow him on Twitter @markmacias.

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