Issues management

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

Pre-empting a crisis

Managing communications during a crisis is the core of our business. 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 avoided through careful planning, informed by experience and expertise.

Chelgate’s acute issue expertise

We work with clients facing all manner of reputational risks. Take, for example, market adjustments. Today, for instance, global markets are changing rapidly: emerging markets are experiencing a slow-down in growth, and commodities are suffering a particularly low period. Many of Chelgate’s clients have worked in this field, and changes in the market’s structure have a heavy bearing on a client’s reputation. We work with clients to ensure they can explain 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 “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.

Clients typically express surprise and thanks after these sessions: they 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 depth of the issues that are affecting 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 for the client. These sessions are often the beginning of a rejuvenation of the client’s relationships with its key publics.