Conflict represents a recognizable and significant disagreement of ideas or interests between two or more parties. The severity of a conflict can range from minor problems to full-scale wars. Much has been written about crisis communications over the years, but less has been said about other phases of conflict management. Dennis Wilcox, author of Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, described the conflict management life cycle that starts with the proactive phase and continues with strategic, reactive, and recovery phases:

The proactive phase includes environmental scanning, issues tracking, issues management, and crisis plan.

The strategic phase includes risk communication and conflict positioning while adapting the crisis plan.

The reactive phase includes crisis communication, conflict resolution, and litigation public relations.

The recovery phase includes reputation management and image restoration strategies.