LONDON — A trio of senior corporate, brand and digital communicators has teamed up with experts in business continuity, psychology and employment law to support small and mid-sized companies, charities and public bodies with critical decision-making during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Decision Circle brings together: former Archetype EMEA regional director, Ketchum global practice director and PRCA Covid-19 Global Taskforce deputy chair Rod Cartwright; former Weber Shandwick EMEA consumer practice chair and IdeaScout founder Louise Watson; and PR digital transformation and social media and measurement specialist, Stuart Bruce.

They are joined by employment lawyer and Keystone Law partner Michelle Last; risk management and business continuity specialist Matt Hodges-Long, CEO of TrackmyRisks; and psychologist, leadership engagement and behavioural insights expert Rob Stewart.

Cartwright said the six senior practitioners had come together to help leaders of smaller organisations make human, operational and reputational decisions at speed, under time and cost pressure. The team will initially work on a project-only basis – while still working in their businesses – to help clients to absorb the impact of Covid-19, start to get back on track and return to growth.

The idea was developed after high demand for a series of webinars Cartwright and Hodges-Long did in the early days of the crisis in the UK, including with the PRCA and the Institute of Leadership & Management.

He told PRovoke: “When you’re a small business owner or a charity and under intense pressure to make decisions, you don’t have time to find a PR agency, an employment lawyer and a business expert. We’ll be around as long as there is demand and business leaders need support.”

Watson said: “We will be driven entirely by clients’ needs. Our starting point will be a structured needs assessment and a 60-minute kick-start consultation with the most relevant partners. Clients will walk away with a blueprint of what to do immediately, what to stop doing and what to explore, based on their individual needs.”

She told PRovoke: “A whole load of small enterprises are underserved with advisors, and the decisions they are being asked to make, at speed, at the moment draw on so many different areas. Our expertise covers everything from auto and energy to charity and consumer brands; it’s a formidable bunch but it’s not an agency set-up. We’re coming together to help clients through situations they haven’t gone through before with genuine, no-bullshit, no-selling consultancy.”

Cartwright added: “We have created The Decision Circle to help organisations deal with the very particular challenges of Covid-19 and post-pandemic recovery. Our agile, virtual model means that clients can access senior advisors without having to pay retainers, deal with contractual lock-ins or foot the bill for big firm overheads. If one consultation is all they need, that is all they will get.”

Research by Opinium released on 25 March, two days after the UK lockdown, found that 82% of small and medium sized business owners were concerned about the impact Covid-19 would have on their business. And Office for National Statistics trading data for the period 6-19 April shows that nearly 23% of all UK businesses had temporarily ceased trading during that period, with nearly 25% of businesses under 250 employees temporarily suspending trading.