No one likes a surprise, least of all the CEO. If there’s an issue with serious consequences for his company, he needs to know far in advance what it is and how you’re going to deal with it.
Senior PR pros know they need to stay on top of emerging trends and changes in the socio-political environment. A single issue can bubble up in the most unexpected places and impact many industries and organizations of all sizes.
For example, demands for a higher minimum wage by workers at a local fast-food restaurant can cause a ripple effect, eventually reaching giant retailers like Wal-Mart. Likewise, the USDA’s new dietary guidelines can create an impact on stakeholders as disparate as regional school districts and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Today’s media landscape is more complicated than ever before. Television remains the single most influential medium, and it reaches deep into local communities. And consumers and activists now have a powerful platform for propagating their ideas and opinions through social media. These media worlds often intertwine, feeding each other.
This makes identifying and planning for potential crises an ongoing responsibility, and one that is increasingly difficult in a very noisy and rapidly changing world.
The process for issues management can be broken down into five steps.
Best Practices in Issues Management
- Identify the issue – Organizations can’t manage what they don’t know. Having a structured, reliable system in place to monitor socio-political developments is a critical first step toward identifying issues that may impact the organization. For example, a pharmaceutical company can monitor news about the FDA, with a particular focus on new regulations that could impact the business.
- Analyze the potential impact – Emerging issues must be evaluated for the likely impact on a brand’s reputation and the bottom line. A thorough analysis also will identify key stakeholders and influencers.
- Evaluate strategic options and develop a plan – All organizations have limited resources. If an issue is likely to have a significant impact on one set of stakeholders, the company can create a strategic plan that prioritizes resources on this group.
- Take action - A set of clear objectives and a plan for reaching them means nothing if there is no follow through. Executing the plan will require resources beyond the communications team and executives. You may need to assign responsibilities to marketing, manufacturing, sales, and human resources. Each player should also be held accountable for his results.
- Monitor and measure – As with all communications strategies, a measurement system must be in place to evaluate success. Because information can spread quickly through multiple media channels, it’s critical for the PR pro to monitor news. If desired results aren’t being achieved, PR pros can act quickly to change direction. At the end of the campaign, measurement can demonstrate effectiveness of the plan.
Five Ways to Use Broadcast Monitoring in Issues Management
Broadcast monitoring can act as an early warning system to help identify hot spots and make it easier to assess the potential consequences of an issue. It can provide a sense of the tone of the debate and help identify key influencers, supporters and detractors. It helps companies adjust their response as the news happens.
Follow these five steps to set up your broadcast monitoring program for managing issues more effectively.
1. Create an alert
Monitor for mentions of keywords related to the issue, as well as top influencers, including government officials, media personalities, competitors, and activists.
TVEyes uses closed captions and speech-to-text technology to record entire television and radio broadcasts – including commercials – making its searchable database more reliable and comprehensive than Google searches.
2. Evaluate perception
Conduct a content analysis to evaluate the key messages being used by influencers and stakeholders. Note the bias of media personalities, understand the agenda of government officials and how it impacts your organization, and pay close attention to the tone of the conversation.
3. Engage broadcast media
Once you have a complete picture of the debate, look to engage influential media. Evaluate your choices carefully. Lean heavily on friendly media shows, but don’t ignore adversarial ones. Sometimes sharing your side of the story with critics can shift the discussion in your favor.
4. Measure, measure, measure
Broadcast monitoring can help you quantify the success of your campaign and report results to executives. But don’t limit your report to the overall number of mentions you receive. You can also evaluate coverage by network, geographic market, or even by individual news program. Further, you can assess your campaign qualitatively by noting the number of positive, negative, and neutral mentions. Broadcast monitoring is exceptional in that it gives you the tools to understand the tone and demeanor of an anchor. This is impossible to tell just from the printed page.
5. Act Quickly to Fine Tune Strategy
Use broadcast monitoring to track changes in perception, and make quick changes in strategy as needed. How has the conversation shifted after your campaign? Are more media outlets falling into the friendly zone? If the results aren’t favorable, adjust messages to correct wrong impressions or misunderstandings. Because broadcast monitoring alerts you within moments of broadcast, it enables your PR team to react before the conversation gets out of control.
These best practices make it easy for you to have a good handle on the socio-political issues affecting your company – and for developing a plan to deal with them. And that’s something your CEO will appreciate.
For more information on creating a disaster-ready organization, please download our Crisis Management Playbook. This comprehensive resource details how real-time broadcast intelligence can make the difference in today's continuous news environment.