5 Keys for Fruitful Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder mapping is a necessary first step to implementing a strategic reputation management plan. Put simply, stakeholder mapping is a process of identifying which stakeholders are relevant to your brand or business. These may be members of the media, suppliers, customers, government/regulators, community, and employees. Every stakeholder has their unique needs and expectations. When you have mapped all your stakeholders, this allows you to systematically assess each one, and create an appropriate plan. What unique messages does each stakeholder require? What platforms should you use and how frequently? Remember these 5 keys to ensuring your stakeholder engagement efforts are fruitful:
Always Tailor your Approach to Stakeholder Engagement!
Remember that stakeholder engagement cannot use a one size fits all approach. Stakeholders have a variety of vested interests in the outcome of a project. From the start, it is therefore critical to understand what success means and looks like for each stakeholder. What criteria would constitute successful engagement for each? A limited view of your company and projects informs your stakeholders’ views, so it is also critical to help them understand the big picture and where they fit.
Keep Reputation Management at the Core.
If you haven’t included your stakeholders in your communications and reputation management efforts, you may wonder why they are relevant at all. Remember that reputation is third party driven. Your brand’s reputation is more credible when your stakeholders endorse you. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting that your employees are also stakeholders- manage your brand’s reputation internally. Your employees need to buy in to your brand and project that externally. Stakeholder engagement is a critical component for building an enduring perception that is tangible.
Define and Maintain Key Messaging.
Messaging is at the core of engaging with any stakeholder. When identifying key messaging for each stakeholder, keep it simple. Don’t offer lots of different messages- this will confuse. Always try to connect with your stakeholder on an emotional level though your messaging. Communicate to your stakeholders what experiences of the brand will feel like at the engagement level. No approach is set in stone- remain flexible, and wait for stakeholder responses to guide your approach.
Stay the Course!
Many brands make the mistake of believing they can engage their stakeholders here and there, without any strategy, and that they will still be effective in building their brand’s reputation. This is simply not true. Memories are a fragile thing. Brands that do not routinely engage with the public are viewed as being easily substitutable. It is in your best interests to commit to engaging with stakeholders. Then, continue to do so in a regular, systematic way. Reputation management is not a sprint, but a marathon. Sustained activities over the long term yield the greatest impact.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.
One of the most important things to remember is to take responsibility as a team. Stakeholder engagement is not one team member’s job, but it is the responsibility of each team member to understand their role in maintaining an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, and how to follow the right approach when communicating and engaging. Part of good governance is making sure your team has clarity about stakeholder roles and responsibilities, and ensuring those involved in stakeholder engagement know what is expected of them.
Stephanie Taderera is a Content Executive at Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants. For more information and business enquiries, contact us today.