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New research shows a third of PR operations failing to plan on most sensitive issues

New research from public relations company Parker, Wayne & Kent shows that although organisations are communicating with the media on their industry’s most sensitive issues, they are often doing so without appropriate planning. 

More than one in three public relations professionals (34.15 per cent) state that their organisation has no defined, written down communications – such as key message or policy documents – for the most sensitive issues they manage. 

Most of the press releases (45 per cent) drafted by respondents were based on industry issues or research – nearly three times the number of new product releases (16 per cent). Although this shows that PR departments are proactively communicating on industry issues, more than half of PR professionals (51.22 per cent) spend less than 10 per cent of their time on issues planning and management. 

Planned, clear, concise and consistent communication offers fast public responses when issues arise. This also marks an organisation as an authority on the issue, enabling it to establish some level of control in any media debate. 

Unplanned communication on sensitive issues can cause miscommunication to external stakeholders, can mean that responses to journalists on these issues are inefficient – or worse non-existent, can make rebuffs to hostile interviews weak and can cause a greater degree of stress for public relations departments should an issue turn into a crisis.

Parker, Wayne & Kent recommends eight steps to effective issues planning and management:

  1. Make sure the organisation is an ‘open system’ by enabling lines of communication into the organisation to identify issues early on.

  2.  Conduct regular environmental scanning and frequent issues monitoring.

  3.  Identify and prioritise the most sensitive or risk prone issues of the organisation.

  4.  Research the issues to identify the history, current status, potential development and policy options open to the organisation and make these documents available to decision makers.

  5.  Develop key messages and backgrounders on each issue.

  6.  Decide on strategies to tackle each issue when it arises.

  7.  Ensure company spokespeople are media trained on each issue.

  8.  Evaluate effectiveness of communication on issues after each implementation of the strategy and use of the messages.

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Note to editors:

The full research report is available online here.

For more information please contact Brian or Tim or call 020 3287 9030.

Parker, Wayne & Kent is a straight-talking, cerebral, multi-skilled and results orientated public relations company in London, UK. All of Parker, Wayne & Kent’s consultants are skilled and dedicated public relations professionals that have trained in journalism and have attained or are working towards the Chartered Institute of Public Relations diploma.


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