What is Issues Management

What is Issues Management?

Organisations and businesses engage in issues management once a risk becomes a reality. This involves undertaking a risk assessment to control an outcome and prevent an issue from proliferating. Issues management is important to prevent the issue from becoming a crisis a business or organisation must recover from. It is key when building, repairing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders.

What is the difference between a risk and an issue?


A risk is something that may escalate into an issue. It could be an event or circumstance that would negatively affect a business or entity, causing an issue or crisis.
Common business risk categories are:

  • Financial
  • Environment/ Community
  • People
  • Operations
  • Reputational


Once a risk potential becomes a reality, the risk becomes an issue. This means that it has now turned into a situation that draws the attention and concern of influential organisations and stakeholders.

What is an issue management plan?

This is a plan that identifies issues and provides direction for organisations to manage these issues. Some strategies that form part of the plan may include communicating with stakeholders, convening media briefings and utilising existing communications channels in order to meet objectives.

A plan may include the following steps:

  • Identify the risk of the issue escalating
  • Assess the impact of the issue
  • Treat the issue
  • Can include provisions to monitor and review the issue

What is an example of a risk, an issue and a crisis?

Picture this:

There is a wet and slippery floor in a shopping centre. This is a risk. One risk mitigation tactic would be for the centre to put out a “slippery when wet” sign or an announcement over the PA. An issue would be when an elderly woman slips and falls on the wet floor – is very unhappy – and threatens to take the story to a media outlet. At this point the issue can either be managed, or it could escalate. If the woman gains a lot of media traction on television and in local news outlets and there is a significant amount of social media backlash and threats of legal action, this is now a crisis.