The purpose of this paper is to find out how issue management and media monitoring is exercised in the digital age to anticipate crises. More specifically, it was investigated how these practices differ across communication professionals, organizations, and sectors in the Netherlands. Organizations are nowadays confronted with a fast-changing environment. Anticipating dicey issues, being in control of the flow of messages, and managing various stakeholders on diverse channels becomes a primary concern for organizations these days.
The study relies on qualitative interviews with 17 communication professionals working in various industrial sectors in the Netherlands. Professionals were recruited from distinct organizations and from diverse sectors, including media, public affairs, technology, consultancy, municipality, lottery, oil/gas, cultural, insurance, and the financial industry. The interview data were analyzed by means of an inductive analysis and in-depth reading.
Practitioners seem to acknowledge the importance of issue monitoring. However, professionals differ with regard to their expertise in online media monitoring, depending on the sector they work for. Stakeholder mapping and the monitoring of competitors has been found to be crucial for issue management, but also to vary among large and small organizations. Eventually, monitoring in times of crises was seen indispensable. It also has the potential to empower practitioners within their organizations.
New technologies, external services, and automized monitoring processes have facilitated issue monitoring for professionals to a great extent, making it possible to analyze great amounts of data efficiently in short time and with fewer resources. Furthermore, the focus of media monitoring is increasingly moving toward the online sphere, including the active engagement of stakeholders. Eventually, the empowerment of practitioners through online monitoring practices in times of crises can be considered as a further step toward the positioning of communication professionals within the dominant coalition.
The authors would like to thank the following research assistants for conducting the interviews with communication professionals in the Netherlands: Ellis Eelzak, Lieselotte Hoegee, Karolina Kulewicz, Sifra Lagendijk, Jennifer Langham, Ilona Rijkeboer, and Yakunu van Santen.
Strauβ, N. and Jonkman, J. (2017), "The benefit of issue management: anticipating crises in the digital age", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 34-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-05-2016-0033
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