Fear of the Unknown? What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Business.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the business world today. Company management and business owners worry about regulations, competition, customer expectations, operational challenges, and new technology. On top of that they may have more immediate concerns like they’re unable to deliver product on time or an employee tweeted something inappropriate. The worry list goes on and on …

For many, the fear of the unknown can be the strongest fear of all because we can’t control what we don’t know. What’s out there that could negatively impact the company? Is it possible to get in front of these issues and perhaps even proactively avoid some of them?

Brave New World Author Aldous Huxley summed it up well when he said: “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

These “doors of perception” is where public relations can positively impact the situation by incorporating a proactive issues management program. This can help companies identify potential problems and help them examine issues before they might occur rather than just responding after a crisis hits. An ongoing issues management program can also identify opportunities that may allow a company to position itself as a leader in the industry by continuing to look ahead.

Issues Management Council Founder Teresa Yancey Crane explains it this way: “Think of an issue as a gap between your actions and stakeholder expectations. Issue management is the process used to close that gap.”

A few thoughts to consider about issues management:

  • Keep up with what customers, employees, and the community at large are thinking. Are their perceptions about your company or industry shifting?
  • Are there any new regulations or laws that will impact your business?
  • Will any operational decisions in 2015 such as a price increase or product change have a negative impact on your target audiences?
    Finally, relying on outside public relations counsel for effective issues management can provide an objective “voice” for your company. Look for a firm that can provide both research and meaningful strategy. Remember, public relations can’t resolve legal matters. An ethical public relations professional should never offer to “solve” any activity that should be handled by an attorney.