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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Peters

Bury Your Head? Or Face An Issue in Advance?

Most people are optimistically biased in their view of the future. They’re psychologically pre-set to anticipate a positive outcome from a potential problem.

Thus people believe that, while an problem may occur, it won’t occur to them – it'll occur to someone like them.

Most of New Zealand business is like this too - reluctant to contemplate an issue ahead of time. Even risk registers often don’t canvas issues properly.

Yet there are huge benefits to facing an issue in advance of it. You can manage problems better if you think about what you’d do ahead of time. Getting on top of issues before they occur is good insurance. It gives you, your staff and ultimately your customers confidence in you; it guards your brand.

There are ways business can identify, log and anticipate potential issues successfully. This is a methodical process. PRaxis Public Relations uses a whiteboard centre in the comms and marketing area (could be online too).

A key to managing upcoming problems is understanding and scoping what’s likely to gain momentum and size which could come back to bite you.

Typically we:

- Start by scanning media/social media for any problems in your sector or any negative mentions of your organisation;

- Look at the litigation ‘on the boil’ related to your organisation; we interview the CEO, the chair, the CFO and others, and read the Board papers.

- Talk to HR. Disaffected contractors, staff, former staff – anyone with a grievance against the organisation – are fertile ground for issues.

- Ask you to encourage staff to report any problems that could gain momentum.

- Canvas customer complaints or stakeholder complaints and record them if they are persistent, unresolved or festering. Dissatisfaction with your organisation – if unresolved – can escalate.

- Put in place appropriate media and social media monitoring for the future (if you don’t already have it), ensuring you have the resource to respond quickly.

- Ensure you have a clear forecast of marketing activities annually. If an issue does occur, it may be very important to change the marketing calendar.

We look at areas of the business and the sector which can be inflammatory and can escalate. Do you have problems in any of the following areas: regulatory/legislative; political; ethnic; religious; racism; environment; human rights?

Once we’ve had a good look around, we document what could 'come at you'. We rank the likelihood of all issues.

Then we take steps to mitigate those problems, working out what we would do if each occurred. Learn about that process in our next post!

If you need help on mapping potential issues and dealing with them - CONTACT US NOW.

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