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7.1.1 Issues management

Principles

Strategic issues management enables the anticipation and tracking of problems and opportunities that can impact on the Government and its stakeholders. Through issues management, government can identify and address any gaps between the expectations of its stakeholders and its performance and take action that may involve organisational change and/or a communications strategy/campaign.

Effective communication is an integral part of issues management, because of the potential for an unmanaged issue to negatively impact an organisation’s reputation, ability to deliver services and its stakeholders.

Definitions

The terms crisis and issues management are often used interchangeably, however there are some fundamental differences and they have been separated in this Policy.

Issues management aims to anticipate emerging issues and plan to influence their development and impact – in some instances, it may aim to prevent an issue becoming a crisis.

Crisis management is generally reactive, dealing with emergencies and disasters that are often unpredictable and/or unpreventable (see section 7.1.2 Crisis and emergency management).

Policy requirements

To ensure effective issues management, agencies must:

  • prepare a communication strategy that takes into account the information needs of internal and external stakeholders and includes an environmental scan of likely problems and opportunities
  • have in place internal processes and procedures for communicating with staff
  • have a designated unit or officer responsible for managing media activities and for liaising with the Government Communications Office and their Minister’s Office
  • identify managers or staff with the knowledge and/or technical expertise to provide input to media responses or to speak as official representatives of their agency.