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The ‘life of an issue’ and approaches to its control

Susanne Femers (Fachhochschule Rhein‐Sieg, University of Applied Sciences, Fachbereich Wirtschaft, von‐Liebig‐Straße 20, 53359 Rheinbach, Germany)
Joachim Klewes (President of k‐brain communication consultants, a management consultancy firm based in Germany)
Klaus Lintemeier (Managing director of Koob & Partner, a German top‐ten PR agency in Mülheim an der Ruhr)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



The paper structures the life cycle of issues, thus allowing a systematic discussion of their practical aspects. It is designed to help public relations professionals handle issues by providing them with parameters that can be influenced systematically. The authors differentiate between four different phases in the life cycle of an issue: emergence, dissemination, establishment and erosion. These phases reflect the different degrees to which an issue penetrates society. An issue emerges when a ‘crystallisation’ and certain interpretation of a specific social reality comes out. Dissemination comes up when protagonists pick up the issue and disseminate it. The issue is established when it becomes known to a large part of society. And it undergoes erosion when public interest in the issue stagnates. In each of the four phases intermediary groups and media are involved in different ways and to different degrees. The issue's factual structure, ie the degree of complexity, is also different in each phase. Public relations professionals can systematically influence the different parameters in each phase of the issue: by doing this they gain improved control of the issues.



Femers, S., Klewes, J. and Lintemeier, K. (2000), "The ‘life of an issue’ and approaches to its control", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 253-265.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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