Communication Risk Management

The pioneer of this technique was W. Howard Chase (Chase: 1976), who called it issues management and defined it as the "gap" between the stakeholders (individuals or groups that have a direct interest in the activities of the organization) expectations and an organization’s performance. But today it is something more than that. It is a process involving the conduct of the entire company; it identifies key issues, trends and attitudes of the environment which may affect the organization-for better or worse, in order to minimize the negative aspects of the Institutional Image and enhance seizing developing opportunities to optimize organizational Management.


The definition in Spanish of issues management causes the same problem as other concepts used in business communication, those which are characteristic of the translation from English to Spanish, or those defining a function or task. In that regard, the different meanings of issues in the dictionary are “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion” and “to publish or make known”. As a result of thisissues management reveals the following results: “dealing with issues” or “managing topics for discussion” “managing major disputes”. It is clear that it is very difficult to get the right definition to establish concepts of action. What type of issues? Which issues are being managed? Who are involved in the dispute, debate or discussion? Is it a debate, a dispute or a discussion? Are they critical, risky?


Some Spanish authors such as Jordi Xifra Triandú (Xifra Triandú: 2005) translated the word in these terms “management of critical matters or management of potential conflicts”. Even though it is a valuable contribution, the words “conflict” and “critical” add a sense of alarm and place it in the crisis management area when that is not the point because for the time being the crisis may be prevented, thus avoided.


Alejandro Ruiz Balza and Gustavo Coppola called this technique in Spanish "Gestión de Riesgo Comunicacional (GRC). In their book which has the same title (Ruiz Balza and Coppola, 2011) the authors consider that Communication Risk Management involves understanding Issues Management not only as a task related to public affairs (government), but to all issues that have an impact on the corporate vision of the company. They also propose a differentiation in the translation of the term issues - trying to keep the variety of meanings – as Key topic, Public affairs or Risk Factor (FR), according to the moment of the GRC process in which the organization is.


This methodology is implemented through a seven-step process, which provides a simple but complete description of the key components of the GRC Programme:


1) Setting up the GRC Committee.


2) Identification and classification of key issues.


3) Assessment of the key issue.


4) Setting priorities.


5) Development of the position of the organization.


6) Development and implementation of an Action Plan.


7) Tracking and Monitoring key issues.


Thus, GRC is a methodology that guides organizational strategy towards business proposal. Its development begins at the limits of the company’s vision and its management allows articulating the business map with the dynamic and complex reality of the environment.


Business reality is a collective construction, an outcome of a negotiation over strong identity attributes, from which the everyday design of organizations emerges. Business reality can only be perceived through messages issued by the company. These messages are channeled through all the company’s acts.


Successful organizations have clear visions and missions. The vision and mission of an organization naturally outline its strategies and organizational objectives. Strategic communication plans, however, are guided and are based on the goals of the organization- raise awareness of a product or service, collect additional funds from contributors, improve productivity or quality-, regardless of the final result GRC links organizational planning and communication planning processes. Thus it enables to identify issues that could have a substantial impact on the organizational skills to do business and address them.


It also has the constant task of identifying Key Issues. It plays an important role in helping organizations anticipate and prepare themselves for crisis situations. Some crises are the result of incidents that as they were not anticipated, usually happen without much warning. Among such incidents industrial accidents, counterfeit products, equipment failures, lawsuits, or product recalls, etc. can be mentioned.


Other crises are events that can be cooked over low heat for months or years before the outbreak occurs. The GRC can help organizations identify these potential problems and address them before they reach the rank of crisis.

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