‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.’ Is that so? What is understood and felt as ‘truth’, over time and when enough people believe it to be the truth, becomes the truth. Everything that is politically, legally and socially legitimized, is being perceived as ‘the truth’. That is exactly what an organization fears for and yearns for, and needs to work on permanently: social acceptance and appreciation.
Social acceptance and appreciation: if you want us to be there, we’ll be there. Central for the Institute is the thought that “We believe that we know, we don’t know that we believe”. Our core business is public opinion development. This motto is in the heart of public judgment: few facts and huge opinions. Who IS right is interesting. Who GETS it, is our business.
The Issues Management Institute in Amsterdam was founded in 1988. A small agency with big clients, that come to us for advice on their policies or to have a sparring partner for members of the Board of Governors or the Board of Commissioners. Clients turn to us for issue- and framing-research, a management matrix, or a second opinion about long-term policy and annual planning. They request lectures to inspire them or other employees of the company or workshops to mirror their behavior as evaluated in the rest of society. Clients ask us to lead regular meetings or special policy sessions. We confer with politicians and lawyers on behalf of companies. Or we join the company ad interim to put certain policies into place. What all clients ask is to publicly be righteously judged and fairly treated. To be considered trustworthy and have a license to operate.
Clients ask the agency to help them acquire a license to operate, to be recognized and appreciated. To help them avoid or else prepare for scandals yet to come. Many companies wrote missions and company values to achieve this. Many texts on the web testify to that. Words are patient. Fresh and honest they are not by sheer automatism. Nor are words used in missions as a rule very original. You will not find such mission on our website. We rather tell you about our views on the ways that organizations operate in society and why they are appreciated, or not. We like to tell you who asked our assistance for what particular question and how we translated this in (communication) policy. Our fundamental motto is “We believe that we know, we don’t know that we believe”. Everything big can become smaller. And smaller and smaller. Everything small can become bigger. And bigger and bigger. Understanding reality means understanding the different meanings of peoples wordings, what is said and what is meant. Bridge between the two is language. In our policy we call this the ‘linguistic approach’. Look here, our mission after all. Clients always call us for ‘issues’: public opinions and public licenses of which the clients have too much or too little. Every company wants to be understood, accepted and appreciated. The Issues Management Institute can show different ways to get there; from framing to issues management, from meaning and significance to stakeholder management, from media policy and publicity to political communication, from internal communication and popular support to integrity of the board and handling a scandal yet to come.
On the site you will also find a continued story, sent to the followers during a year, two times a week. You can call it a blog because that is what it appears to be. But rather, it is a book, cut into 200 pieces which is to appear as an e-book in the spring of 2016. The leitmotiv in the book is also ‘we believe that we know…’, a subject that we will approach in many different ways. It is our translation of a much older observation. There is a popular apologistic work dating from 1684 and written by Jacques Abbadie, a French protestant, entitled: “Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne”. (Tractate on the Truth of the Christian Faith). The following lines are found, according to Quote Investigator, in Ch. II:
… ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains temps, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siècles.”
Usually the line is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, some 200 years later (1809-1865). Then it reads: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” An interesting saying. What is understood and felt as ‘truth’, over time and when enough people believe it to be the truth, becomes the truth. Everything that is politically, legally and socially legitimized, is being perceived as ‘the truth’. That is exactly that an organization needs to work on permanently. If you want us to be there, we’ll be there.
Eliane Schoonman graduated cum laude in Argumentation & Rhetoric at the University of Amsterdam and is the founding person of the agency. She advises the government and commercial companies on social legitimacy and popular appreciation. Support is necessary for the acceptation of the administrations or the company’s policy. One has to have a solid command over ‘what’ one says as well as over ‘how’ one says it. Such a linguistic approach forms the basis of understanding public opinion and working on acceptance of ones own company. Knowledge of framing processes is indispensable as well as knowing ones possibilities of participating in these processes. The Issues Management Institute works with other professionals depending on the service asked or the issue concerned. Eliane Schoonman used to work as a journalist for the Dutch weekly ‘Elsevier’ and later joined the School for Journalism and Public Information in Utrecht, The Netherlands as a teacher. She also operates since 2000 as interim Corporate Communications Manager. She is also a member of the audit committee for higher professional and academic education in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium). She was vice president of the professional society of communication professionals, board member of International Press Centre Nieuwspoort and member of the Board of Commissioners of the International School of Philosophy (ISVW) in the Netherlands. She wrote six books on issues management, media policy and spin doctoring and is also the author of dozens of publications, of which some are accessible through her page on LinkedIn. In 2010 she started to study law at the University of Amsterdam. She is expected to graduate at the beginning of 2016, in the Master International and European Law. The Issues Management Institute is located in Amsterdam.