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Strategic Issues Management

Strategic Issues Management
Organizations and Public Policy Challenges

Second Edition

September 2008 | 424 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Strategic Issues Management explores the strategic planning options that organizations can employ to address crucial public policy issues, engage in collaborative decision making, get the organization's "house" in order, engage in tough defense and smart offense, and monitor opinion changes that affect public policy. In this fully updated Second Edition, authors Robert L. Heath and Michael J. Palenchar offer practical, actionable guidance that readers can apply to organizations from large Fortune 500 companies to nongovernmental organizations and start-up high tech companies.


  • Includes a NEW chapter on brand equity, updated examples, theories and cases throughout, new information on activists and activism, and increased attention to the role that technology plays in issues management
  • Explores ways public relations, risk communication, and crisis communication can be used to address crucial public policy options
  • Advises managers on ways to lessen the chance of a crisis becoming an issue through an examination of crisis preparation and responses
  • Addresses the topic of reputation management by exploring the connection between issues management and brand equity using examples from McDonald's and Wal-Mart
  • Challenges managers to engage in collaborative decision making with community leaders and residents to reduce the chance that undue fear will translate into unnecessary regulation or legislation
  • Opens each chapter with case study vignettes and closes with summary questions and issues management challenges

Strategic Issues Management is appropriate for courses in Corporate/Strategic Communications, Public Relations Management, Crisis/Risk Communication, Strategic Management, Public Relations Management, Organizational Communication, and Public Policy and Administration.

1. A Foundation of Community
Vignette: British Petroleum--Enlightened Leader or Lightning Rod?

Chapter Goals

Historical Evolution

SIM: Strategic Issues Management Defined

SIM: Stakeholders/Stakeseekers

SIM: Bringing More Than Communication

SIM: Cornerstone of Strategic Business Planning

SIM: Advocacy, Dialogue, and Collaborative Decision Making


SIM Challenge: CSR and Long-Term Planning

Summary Questions

2. Historical Foundations
Vignette: Westinghouse Versus Edison

Chapter Goals

Opinions Shape Operating Environments

Argument Structure in Public Policy Debate

Robber Barons and the Making of Mass Production Society

The Great Depression and the Redemption of Capitalism

Dissent Flowers in the 1960s

The Present and the Future


SIM Challenge: Science or Sham?

Summary Questions

3. Scouting the Terrain
Vignette: The Greening of Nuclear Power

Chapter Goals

Things Go Bump in the Dark

Logics of Issues Monitoring

The Systematic Stages of Issues Monitoring

Creating an Issues Monitoring and Analysis Team

Issue Content: Basis for Issues Analysis


SIM Challenge: NAACP and Issues Monitoring

Summary Questions

4. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Vignette: Wal-Mart’s Makeover?

Chapter Goals

Mutual Interests: The Basis of Corporate Responsibility

Standards of Corporate Responsibility: A Rhetorical Rationale

Changing Organizational Policies: Getting the House in Order

Corporate Responsibility Partnerships: Communicating Ethical Performance


SIM Challenge: Global Warming

Summary Questions

5. Special Interest Activists as Foes or Allies
Vignette: Fast Food--A Lightning Rod for Big Food Protest

Chapter Goals

Moral Outrage

Power Resource Management

Strain: Nexus of Issues, Risk, and Crisis

Stages of Activism

Incremental Erosion

Fostering Mutual Interests Instead of Antagonism


SIM Challenge: Is Clean Energy an Oxymoron?

Summary Questions

6. Issues Communication
Vignettes: Activists Speak With Many Tools

Chapter Goals

The Issue of Issues Communication

Narrative Theory

The Good Organization Communicating Well

Images and Issues: Complements and Counterparts

Framing: Giving Issues Argumentative Context

Media Effects in a Multitiered Society

Communication Technology and Issues Communication

Issues Communication as Argument


SIM Challenge: Voice of a Trade Association

Summary Questions

7. Obligations and Constraints on Issues Communication
Vignette: Corporate Speech--Free, Free for Some, or Not at All?

Chapter Goals

Legislative, Judicial, and Regulatory Constraints on Issues Communication

The Rationale for Organizations Speaking as Citizens

Federal Constraint


SIM Challenge: Looking to the Future

Summary Questions

8. Issues Management and Crisis Communication
Vignette: It Takes Two to Tango

Chapter Goals

Crisis Management: The Search for Control

Prevent a Crisis From Becoming an Issue


SIM Challenge: Can a Crisis Be Prevented From Exploding Into an Issue?

Summary Questions

9. Issues Management and Risk Communication
Vignette: Risk, Risk Everywhere

Chapter Goals

Community Right to Know

The Difficulties of Risk Assessment

Risk Management and Communication Approaches

SIM's Approach to Risk Communication

Risk and Crisis Communication Working Together


SIM Challenge: Reality List

Summary Questions

10. Brand Equity and Organizational Reputation
Vignettes: Proactive Versus Reactive

Chapter Goals

Corporate Branding

Brand Equity: Many Faces and Definitions

Brand Attributes and Attitude Theory

Logics of Brand Equity

Brand Equity and Crisis

Brand Equity and Risk

SIM Challenge: Corporate Responsibility and Long-Term Planning

A Brand Equity Case Study: Coors Boycott in the 1970s

Summary Questions


The way that each chapter is presented in light of an appropriate case study is helpful

The book covers lots of ground and presents ideas from both a business and public policy perspective

Dr Sarah Ayres
School for Policy Studies, Bristol University
May 2, 2012

This text I have recommended for Spring 2011. The major reasons for the recommendation include, the content of the text is latest, the cases are easy to understand, the price of the text is affordable.

Professor Lalith De Silva
Marketing, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan
July 12, 2010

A very good overview on research and practice. The book is relevant for undergraduate students who study public relations.

Dr Andreas Schwarz
Communications , Technical University of Ilmenau
March 12, 2010

Interesting take on the processes involved in Strat decision taking. Useful as a library reference, but a little too specialised to be a core text for my learners.

Mr Nicholas Snowden
Management , Hull College of Further Education
October 29, 2009
Key features

New to this edition:

  • NEW chapter exploring the connection between issues management and brand equity (using examples from McDonald's and Walmart to address the topic of reputation management)
  • Stronger focus on the FTC in Chapter 7: Legislative, Judicial, and Regulatory Constraints on Issue Communication with a discussion of the legal case Kasy vs. Nike to illustrate key concepts
  • New information on activists and activism, including strategies such as conflict management and collaborative decision-making
  • Increased attention to the role that technology plays in issues management
  • Updated examples and theories throughout