Margaret McGann

Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

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. Read the rest of this entry »


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) Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Media Training: 7 tips to avoid these deadly interview sins

In communications and marketing, crisis communications, interviewing, interviews, media interview, media relations, media training, public relations, spokesperson on September 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

When the media calls it’s an opportunity to communicate with and make a positive impression on potential and current audiences including stakeholders, employees and shareholders.  Sometimes the promise of the interview isn’t realized because the interviewee commits one or more of the seven cringe worthy sins listed below.

These interview sins by media spokespeople or interview subjects can reflect badly on both your and your organization’s reputation (let’s not forget BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward).

It looks simple enough to perform well in an interview but it actually takes training and lots of practice. And it’s not only neophytes needing to rehearse senior managers with previous media training usually need refresher courses to prepare for media interviews. Read the rest of this entry »

Communications and PR: how well do you know your acronyms?

In communications and marketing, evaluation, media relations, planning, public relations, research, social media, strategy on September 6, 2010 at 11:56 am

At a dinner party recently we got to talking about how each industry has its own acronyms and jargon which can make it difficult for newbies and outsiders to understand what you’re talking about.

I have a vivid memory of my first day working on a big-budget film set saying I couldn’t wait for the “honey wagon” to arrive only to find out that the term didn’t refer to the coffee and donut wagon but instead to portable toilets.

The communications and public relations industry has its own acronyms which can be confusing and confounding but none that I know of that can be as embarrassingly misconstrued.

As a communicator, how well do you know your industry’s acronyms and how well can you explain them to a potential client or PR intern?

Read the rest of this entry »

Would Emily Post approve of your manners?

In communications and marketing, good manners, personal branding, public relations, social media, writing on August 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

Good manners and courtesy make life and work easier and smoother. And these qualities are especially important in communications and public relations where we are in constant contact with others.

But sometimes simple etiquette seems to perplex or elude people who work in this industry. I recently received a bare bones “can you endorse me?” request for a recommendation on LinkedIn that took me aback. It came from someone whom I haven’t spoken to in years and only worked with once on a small project a decade ago that didn’t end particularly well. This got me thinking about the many emails, voice mails and other communications I receive that lack basic thoughtfulness and civility.

Good manners are simply the small courtesies and gestures that consider and respect the feelings of other people. Read the rest of this entry »