Understanding and Defining Issues

Understanding and Defining Issues
 Any problem or potential problem facing an
 Any controversial matter or disputed question
affecting the organization
 A contentious choice or decision to be made
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Issues Management
The process by which a corporation can identify and
evaluate those governmental societal issues that may
impact significantly on it. Those issues can then be
assigned for appropriate corporate response
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Open And Closed Systems
 Some organizations actively monitor their environment and
make adjustments based on what is learned
 Organizational adjustment and adaptation to new
conditions depend in part on how open they are to their
 Closed systems have impregnable boundaries so they
cannot exchange information, with their environments
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Open And Closed Systems
 Open systems exchange inputs and outputs through
permeable boundaries
 Closed systems do not adapt to external change and
eventually disintegrate
 Open systems are responsive to environmental changes
 Open systems exhibit more flexibility in adjusting to the
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Goals Of Issues Management
 Identify as early as possible, those issues that
may have an effect on the organization
 Influence the issues to prevent them from causing
a major consequence to the organization
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The Publics Which May Be Affected
The general public
Activists groups
Government officials
Regulatory agencies
Local and national law makers
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The PR Practitioner’s Role
 Develop formal and informal research
skills necessary to survey their
organization’s internal and external
 Determine what issues their organizations
must confront and how these issues can
be successfully dealt with
 Interpreting publics, anticipating future
issues in order to recommend positions,
actions, policy changes
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Key Issues Affecting Organizations
 Environmentalism
 Consumerism
 Unionism
 Feminism
 Energy
 Health & Safety
 Human Resources
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Public Policy And How It Affects
 Public issue is a problem, question or
choice being faced by society or some
segment of society that involves actual or
potential government action.
 When public issues impact on an
organization’s investment, operations or
ability to act, that organization needs to
become actively involved with those
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Public Policy And How It Affects
 Public affairs is a specialized part of public
relations that builds and maintains
governmental and local community
relations in order to influence public policy
 When issues management operates in
areas of public policy, it is part of public
affairs which in turn is part of the larger
public relations function.
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The Issues Management Process
 Identification
 Analysis
 Strategy
 Action
 Evaluation
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 Organizations use various methods to
scan the environment for potential areas of
threat or opportunity
 Issues should be identified in the earliest
stages of its life cycle
 Methods of identification include – media
scanning, polling of the public and use of
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 Set priorities based on an issues potential
and publics
 Note that not all identified issues can be
managed at the same time
 There is a need to narrow the list to the
most important
 Importance of an issue is based on its
timing and impact
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Establishing priorities by asking:
 How quick will this issue unfold
 How will it impact our products and operations
 How likely is it that this issue will come to fruition
 How would our stakeholder expect us to act in
relations to this issue
 What is our ability to have an impact on this issue
 What are the costs of not dealing with this issue
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Ultimately, the organization seeks to
determine whether a given issue potentially
impacts its success or survival. Those
issues with the greatest bottom line impact
should receive the most attention
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 This step is usually accomplished by a
committee made up of management and those
affected by the issue
 Based on inputs from those affected and those
who would be involved in implementing the
organization’s response, position papers and
plans are developed by staff subject to
approval by top management
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 An orchestrated, integrated response to the
issue of concern.
 A campaign is developed and implemented
which co-ordinates the efforts of lobbyists,
media relations, employee communications etc.
 Some efforts are of short duration while others
involve greater use of resources, energy and
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 The organization seeks to determine the
effectiveness and impact of the program
 Evaluation may help establish how long
the programme should continue to be
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Common weakness in Issue Management:
No systematic collection of planning information
No systematic dissemination of planning information
Failure to identify and establish an accident common structure
No, or minimal coordination with effected entities
Lack of, or poorly defined organizational responsibilities
Once developed the program is not or is, at best, poorly
The material developed is not user-friendly
You did not disseminate the plan to the proper authorities
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