Issues management – start with the two ‘Ps’

April 29, 2010


The management of issues that could have an impact on the business has always been a big subject to all in management and particularly to those in public relations.

It was important in the era of print, radio and television, but today it is even bigger with the impact of online media, particularly social media, blogs and twitter with the capacity to communicate and influence people by the millions in an instant.

We have all seen the FaceBook examples of ‘United Airlines smashed my guitar’ and Dell and Dominos online, but if you are in a responsible position in any organisation, what should you have done before those disasters emerged.

Try the two ‘Ps’ – planning and preparation. What can you do in advance to be prepared if disaster strikes?

Much of it is obvious and really based on common sense and knowledge of the media and how it works. There are also plenty of text books which set it out chapter and verse, such as the need for trained media spokespersons who can get the message across in an interview. But you should start at the organisational level and assess who should get together in the case of a crisis and ensure that they are all briefed so the ducks are all pointed in the same direction.

Strategy should be vital component of the planning process.

It is interesting to reflect on the issue of issues management and crisis planning in the current context of the Australian Rugby League and the ongoing media crisis of the Melbourne Storm and the salary cap situation.

It is a crisis that will keep going for months, distract from the game and have disastrous future consequences, but how should it have been handled?

If you don’t agree with the strategy that has been followed so far, what alternative should have been adopted?

I know it will be like shutting the stable door after the entire mob of thoroughbreds have joined the wild bush horses, but I would certainly be interested in some creative alternatives other than calling in ‘Clancy of the Overflow’?.

– Dennis Rutzou