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Do You Have Issues?

By Harry Hoover
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Every organization has issues that could affect its operation. The following are some thoughts on issues management and some of the tactics available to us in this discipline.

First of all, what is the objective of issues management? Typically, it is to proactively and responsibly identify and manage emerging or existing issues that can have an impact on our:

* assets

* position

* image

* competitiveness

* performance

Now, some companies become obsessed by issues management and dissect every small problem they foresee. We believe that keeping it simple is best. Identify a few issues that are most likely to materially affect you, determine the key concern each issue holds for you, determine how urgent it is, prepare an action plan, and then mount a focused attack.

Tactically, there are a number of weapons available. First, is a strong, credible image. A proactive program to maintain this image could include:

* an issues audit

* media monitoring to detect existing or emerging issues of importance

* aggressive media relations on issues of prime importance

* reprints of favorable media coverage for distribution

* a letter to the editor program that involves employees and allies

* development of alliances with natural partners

* writing of editorial/opinion pieces for submission to major media

* development of position papers on key issues and distribution to employees and allies as well as to media

* legislative briefings for state and local officials on key issues

* identification of "neutral" experts who agree with our positions

* identification of other organizations to whom we can "hand-off" some issues

* public opinion research on issues of importance

* speakers bureau

* identification of opponents and initiation of dialogue with them

About the Author
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, (http://www.hoover-ink.com). He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, North Carolina Tourism, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX and Verbatim.