Chapter 10: Conflict Management

Strategic conflict management is the use of public relations to influence the course of a conflict or crisis.  Its key components are:

  • Strategic- for the purpose of achieving particular objectives
  • Management- planned, deliberate action
  • Competition- striving for the same object as others
  • Conflict- sharp disagreements resulting in a direct threat of attack from another entity

The Conflict Management Life Cycle shows the “big picture” of how to manage a conflict.  Strategic conflict management can be divided into 4 phases.

  1. Proactive Phase:  this includes activities and thought processes that can prevent a conflict from arising or from getting out of hand. 
  2. Strategic Phase:  in this stage, an issue has been identified as an emerging conflict and the PR people need to take action.
  3. Reactive Phase:  Once the conflict reaches a critical level, the PR professionals must react to events in the external communication environment as they unfold. 
  4. Recovery Phase:  In the aftermath of a crisis, the organization should employ strategies either to repair its reputation in the eyes of key publics.

Issues management is a proactive and systematic approach to:

  • Predict problems
  • Anticipate threats
  • Minimize surprises
  • Resolve issues
  • Prevent crises

Public relations counselors W. Howard Chase and Barrie L. jones were a couple of the first practitioners to specialize in issues management.  The process is defined in 5 basic steps:

  1. Issue Identification:  Organizations should track the mainstream media to learn what issues and conerns are being discussed.
  2. Issue Analysis:  Once an issue has been identified, the next step is to assess its potential threat to the organization.
  3. Strategy Options:  If the issue is potentially damaging to the company, the next step is to consider what to do about it.
  4. Action Plan:  Once a policy has been decided on, the next step is to communicate it to all interested publics.
  5. Evaluation:  With the new policy in place and communicated, the last step is to evaluate the results.

Here are a few tips on what to do during a crisis:

  • Put the public first.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Be honest.
  • Never say, “No comment.”
  • Designate a single spokesperson.

This information was taken from the book  Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, Ninth Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron.

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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