Margaret McGann

Issues Management: how to write a plan

In communications and marketing, issues management, media relations, planning, public relations, research, strategy, writing on October 11, 2010 at 9:30 am

Once you have identified an issue you need to decide how you’ll manage it.  Creating an issues management plan is the best way to help you do this.

The template below shows what you need to include in your plan plus it’ll keep you focused and help you think through how you should deal with the matter.

Issue description:

Describe the issue in detail, outlining the challenges and opportunities. Explain why it is an issue. Details should include:

  • Context
  • Timelines and important dates
  • How the issue has evolved
  • Project life cycle of the issue
  • Public awareness surrounding the issue

Strategic considerations:


A brief synopsis of all related current or past media coverage including online should be provided to allow senior management to identify re-occurring themes and better position the organization to respond in an effective and timely manner.

The media analysis should include key quotes that illustrate positions of key stakeholders, public officials and those in support or opposition.

Relevant market research can help identify trends, viewpoints and interest in an issue.


Issues Management: do you know what your issues are?

In communications and marketing, issues management, issues note, monitoring, planning, public relations, writing on October 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

Issues management is the art of identifying an issue early enough to gather, organize and communicate in both a strategic and timely manner to avoid it becoming a crisis.

What is an issue

  • Long-standing problems that are difficult to resolve
  • Perceived lack of action or too much action
  • Direct attack/criticism by opponents
  • Positive pressure from government, stakeholders or partners
  • Critical events (news) that focus attention on the subject

How to identify issues

The key to identifying issues is to pay attention to what is happening around you and not to take anything for granted. Issues are easy to perceive if you:

  • Listen to your audiences – tweets, emails, phone inquiries, etc.
  • Monitor the media and the blogosphere
  • Pay attention to scheduled events, the release of reports, studies or surveys
  • Regularly check Freedom of Information requests (if you work for government)

Crisis Communications: who should you tell first?

In communications and marketing, crisis communications, crisis communications plan, public relations, spokesperson on September 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

When a crisis hits the most important thing to do is take control of the situation and your response to it.

The key audience is your employees and you need to tell them what’s happening first. Your staff can be your best ally or your worst nightmare in a crisis. Rumours quickly fill an information void and take on a life of their own.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “A rumour gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” and that’s never been more true than in this age of social media and 24/7 news outlets.

The last thing you want is to have an employee talking to the media off message and off-the-cuff as happened when a John Hopkins Hospital nurse gave an impromptu interview to Fox News during the deadly shooting incident last Thursday.