Public Relations Inquiry as Rhetorical Criticism: Case Studies of Corporate Discourse and Social Influence

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

8
Philip Morris Magazine An Innovation in Grass Roots Issue Management

Rachel L. Holloway

When an organization faces potential regulation detrimental to its objectives, issue management is in order. Issue management, according to Chase ( 1982), is "the capacity to understand, mobilize, coordinate, and direct all strategic and policy planning functions, and all public affairs/public relations skills, toward achievement of one objective: Meaningful participation in creation of public policy that affects personal and institutional destiny" (pp. 1-2). Communication with key publics is essential to any issue-management strategy. An issue manager chooses, legitimizes, and promotes issue definitions to support the organization's desired policy outcome ( Crable and Vibbert, 1985; Hainsworth, 1990). Ongoing issue communication is "designed to prevent an issue from becoming engrained in the public mentality to the extent that it begins to demand legislative remedy. This phase is preventative, trying to help the public understand a company or industry, demonstrating corporate responsibility and countering false information and charges" ( Heath and Nelson, 1986, p. 170).

No public is more important to this "preventative" process than "organizational stakeholders," those publics invested in a company's or industry's success, either financially or symbolically or both. Heath and Nelson ( 1986) note that an issue manager needs to galvanize the support of those publics already favorable to the desired issue resolution (pp. 172-179). In many cases, the stakeholders already accept the company's or industry's position and therefore do not require "persua-

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