Issues Management

Chelgate is a leader in issues management. We work with clients to help them to foresee and manage acute reputational issues before they become significant problems – or crises.

Managing crises is the core of our business. But if a crisis can be avoided, through careful planning, much of the stress and work of crisis management can be eliminated. During more than two decades of experience in this field, we have worked with hundreds of crisis clients, and regularly interact with clients who wish they had acted earlier to mitigate threats to their reputations. Of course, not all crises can be foreseen. But many can be addressed through careful planning, informed by experience and expertise.

Chelgate’s acute issue management

We work with clients facing all manner of reputational risks. Take, for example, market adjustments. As the oil price fell through late 2014, companies operating in the field had to make fast, but not instantaneous, adjustments. Radical changes in a market can have a heavy bearing on a client’s reputation. Chelgate might work with a client to ensure they can explain significant downturns in quarterly results both convincingly and honestly; we help clients to articulate messages about their performance vis a vis rivals in a tumultuous market; and we position our clients as expert commentators and analysts in the relevant global media during times of rapid change.

Risks to reputation also come from inside one’s own organisation, and handling those risks means changing the way on behaves, as well as how one communicates. We advise clients about their commercial decisions – about whether to recall a product, for instance – and about their internal relationships, say with employees or directors. The risks we identify can be days or years ahead, and we help clients to stand on their own feet: we put in place the systems companies need to foresee, understand and pre-empt their own risks. And we are always on call, should those systems fail.

How we do issues management

We typically begin with an in-depth strategy session. In a dialogue with senior staff, we explore the client’s relationships with its “key publics” – those groups who matter most to the organisation in question. We ask how those relationships look today; we ask how those relationships would look in an ideal world; and we advise clients how they should move from one to the other.

The sessions prompt clients to think in a fresh, critical way about the gap between their real and ideal corporate relationships. They can force clients to acknowledge, for the first time, as a group or even to themselves, the seriousness of the problems that are holding back their communications. But they are also constructive experiences: as the session progresses, and in the subsequent report from Chelgate, we and the client devise new ways forward. These sessions are often the beginning of a rejuvenation of the client’s relationships with its key publics.

In the wake of the strategy session, we continue to work with the client’s leadership on a regular basis, designing and executing initiatives, and advising in-house teams as they realise the strategy inside the client’s own organisation.