Recently, we have been approached by multiple clients for various issues management requirements. Every single time, the client brief prompted us to question – could it have been avoided? So, for today’s blog, I thought of putting down a quick ‘must-for-every-organization-guide’ for issues communication.
A lot of times, issues can be avoided by organizations, but then, there are times when it is unavoidable. In both cases, preparing in advance is absolutely doable.
Short case study on lack of preparedness for issues management
Let me begin by giving an example of the impact that lack of preparedness for issues management can cause.
A national organization that specialized in dairy products faced an issue wherein the supply of milk was hampered due to various market forces. At one of the company’s production sites, the operations continued as they were responsible for products that did not require milk. The plant manager was approached by a local journalist who was looking for a sensational headline around the topic. Instant dislike towards the journalist coupled with no internal communications around the topic made the manager blurt out – ‘I am doing what I have been told to do. Milk or no milk, we are continuing with production’.
His statements were factual. His plant did not require any milk for the products. And he was doing what he was told to do. The journalist went back with a broad grin to write a story on how the company and its employees were finding artificial and unhealthy alternates to milk in order to continue production at its plants.
The most obvious challenge here was the lack of communication training. But a company dealing with dairy products facing an issue of milk supply is definitely not unexpected. In such a scenario, having a handy issues communication plan could have helped avoid the barrage of journalists who went looking for follow-up stories with the plant manager.
5 simple tips for issues management planning
To avoid such situations, here is a quick guide to issues communication that can help companies be better prepared:
- Pre-empt issues: Almost every organization will be able to list the ‘what if’ situations while preparing for any crises. There are a million things that can go wrong and listing them might give you ideas on how to avoid some of them by simply amending certain processes.
- Train your employees: Communications and media training should be given to all those employees who might not be official spokespeople but are susceptible to public or media attention.
- Monitor, analyze and plan: Regularly monitor what is being said about your organization and industry. Only when you know what is being said, will you be able to prepare for the next plan of action.
- Key messages: Create a set of key messages that can be used to develop holding statements or media quotes.
- Plan of action: The plan of action should include the immediate next steps including internal communications, stakeholder response, communication mediums, etc.
PR Associates has extensive experience working with organizations on issues management planning and managing of crises situations. We encourage you to think, plan and prepare for issues management before it becomes a crisis.
Call us today to guide you through the process.