Issues management should be as strategic and comprehensive as possible. An issues management in public relations firm needs to have a thriving and unbeaten course of action to deal with a crisis. The moment a crisis pops up, PR pros should be ready to hit the ground running. Understanding the issues management process will help with crisis management before things get too heated. This article will provide a number of points to help in understanding issues management and how to navigate any issue.
What Is a Public Relations Crisis?
When someone thinks of a public relations crisis, the reputation of a company and the expectations of clients come to mind. If a company faces any negative interaction with the public, be it at the customer level or at the senior management level, then there is a crisis at hand. Whether it is a small business or a multi-global company, some damage control must take place to save the reputation of the company. Bad reviews and scandals can negatively affect the company, especially if the incident happens to capture media attention. When a company tries to resolve the problem,
When Can A PR Crisis Happen?
Any company will face a PR crisis at least once in its lifetime. This is because no one can control customers or even employees of a particular firm. For example, a pharmaceutical company can release drugs into the market without disclosing all the side effects. Down the line, patients start a series of complaints that might or not lead to illnesses or death. In such a situation, the company will face financial and reputational impacts. The reason is, that patients will come forward with different claims and others might sue because it is their health on the line. Therefore, this means that the company did not do thorough research or cooperate with the health and safety agencies.
How to Deal with a PR Crisis
For starters, a company should identify potential issues and engage in strategic decision-making to respond to a public issue. Effective issues management will support the company in managing a potential problem. Many crises require an early evaluation to effectively address possible scenarios. Approaching a problem with the mindset to solve it is better than trying to cover up any wrongdoing.
If problems arise in an organization, it is advisable to deal with the problem with genuine sincerity and avoid blaming external factors. A company should take the blame, apologize, and assure the stakeholders that the mistake will not happen again. Clients will listen if an organization chooses to be honest and employees will be happy to work in favorable organizational environments.
What is Issues Management in Public Relations?
Issues management includes proactively addressing public policy and impacts that can significantly affect the organization’s success. An issues manager is at the top of an issues management council and hence on the frontline of managing issues. Whatever the cause of the damage, a company should work towards regaining the trust of its client’s industry and external stakeholders. If a company finds itself with a lot of negative media coverage, PR professionals will be the best option to handle the situation.
The issues management process involves following a cost-effective plan with the help of an issues management counsel to manage reputation issues. There are several issues management techniques that are useful and will be helpful to achieve positive outcomes and they include strategic planning. The techniques help a company to keep external relations activities focused on remarkable opportunities and high-priority challenges. The process is proactive and works by anticipating problems that may arise before they arise. It involves data that has been gathered for quite a while because the process can take up to years since there is no problem that needs immediate handling.
Pillars of Issues management
There are four significant pillars of issues management. The pillars come together to form a wholesome process while addressing different issues within an organization. Crisis management is made up of strategies like corporate social responsibility, issues monitoring, strategic issues communication, and strategic management. Companies take social responsibilities differently and therefore they engage in various companies to help the public through community development and development in a bid to make the world a better place. The most important element of succeeding is planning. With proper strategies and processes in place, an organization can assess trends and adapt as required.
The Six Steps of Issue Management
Identify issues and developing trends
The first step of the process is to determine any potential issues and their impact on the organization. While it is important to manage issues before they get critical, sometimes an organization might miss arising issues if not careful. A proper issues management strategy needs to look at the organization and its business practices, human resources, and client behavior regarding the business. What people say online can damage a company if left unchecked. It is also a good idea to look at the causes of the issues like pressure groups, news media, the public, and elected officials in the government.
There are different types of issues and they represent stages of an issue. Usually, it is best to manage an issue before it reaches the crisis point for effective practice issues management. The different types include:
After a firm identifies the potential issues it is time to determine how to approach them. A good starting point is to determine which issues pose the greatest risk to the business. Arrange the issues in three classifications, that is high, medium, and low. The basic idea is to try and lessen the damage to the company as much as possible. With the classification ready, the high-risk issue will take priority as the public relations practitioners deploy a strategic planning process. The lifecycle of the issue will also help to determine how long an issue will stick and how long it will take to eliminate.
Establish a stand on the issue
The next step is to plan what to do. Public relations professionals can devise different tactics that will support effective PR issues management. This step involves the different ways the organization can get past the crises that it is facing. The most important question to ask is how to handle the situation given the time frame and financial implications of handling the situation. Whether an organization will use several methods of dealing with the issues or it will have a progressive plan, it is essential that it is well-thought-out to avoid a blow-back.
Create a response
The organization will represent its response to the public. Communication strategies at this stage are crucial and they show the organization’s point on the problem. The response is directed toward customers, investors, employees, and external stakeholders, and hence it should be clear and geared towards positivity. The goal is to address the safety concerns of the external environment.
By taking action, the company simply distributes its developed messages through several outlets, whether internal or external channels as well as the media. At this point, it is important to avoid controversial inconsistencies. Communication is the key factor in addressing many issues. Before an organization takes action, it needs to be armed with extensive knowledge regarding the problem at hand. Formal contact is the way to go if the organization wants its response to be taken seriously.
Monitor the issue
One of the ways that can measure an effective issue management strategy is to look at the response to the message from the public and interest groups. Key indicators will show whether to continue in the same line of action or to introduce new ways of issue management.
Reasons why Companies should use the Issues Management Process
Issue management needs a strategy that helps organizations detect emerging trends. Issues management deals with public issues and advises on the way forward on any contestable point. An issue management council will respond appropriately to any potential issue that arises from public opinion. For a company to make itself understood by the public, it must ensure effective collaboration from the leadership down to the socio-political environment. Honesty and transparency are what customers want to see and hence feel valued. There is no organization that will beat a crisis without sorting public affairs concerns. A great issue management tactic will improve government relations with the organization.
Crisis management can be unnerving if an organization does not know where to begin. A PR team will help out with the formal process and educate staff members on how to anticipate and respond to issues as they arise. Public affairs should be at the top of a firm’s to-do list if any issues are going to be resolved. The public has a say in the progression of a business, especially where sales are concerned.
It is always an important practice for a company to publicly communicate to promote mutual understanding between all interested parties. A great issue management process will help to restore the reputation of a brand and the trust that clients seek when they interact with a business. An organization that invests in crisis management will help avoid important consequences.
Bring in the Murnahan PR Team
If an organization finds itself deep in a crisis or dealing with issues beyond comprehension, Murnahan Public Relations is prepared to handle such situations and protect its reputation. With qualified PR consultants, the PR firm will help the affected organization with services like issues management and get the organization back into the good books.