Stakeholder engagement is a term that is frequently used in PR and marketing, but many businesses don’t think they have the time or resources to carry it out. Let’s look at why they should make time and a quick and easy way to do some stakeholder analysis.

Do you ever receive those supermarket vouchers through the post, offering you money off exactly the products you were planning to buy in your next shop? I bet that unsolicited mail goes straight into your handbag or wallet, ready to cash in at your next visit to said supermarket.

In that same pile of post, which contained those vouchers, I bet you also put a brochure from another, equally well-known supermarket straight into your recycling pile, even though it also  contains plenty of money-off vouchers.

Why do you prefer one set of vouchers over the other, even if you shop at both supermarkets? One set is more appealing because they are targeted specifically to you.

This is the difference between knowing your stakeholders and sending out targeted communication and not really knowing your stakeholders and sending out blanket communication to everyone, regardless of their level of interest in your business. That blanket communication often ends up in one place: the bin.

What could these businesses do differently? While stakeholder engagement is often an extensive piece of work, the three simple steps below are a valuable exercise for any business to carry out:

1.       Identify all your stakeholders. As well as your clients, also include your staff, suppliers, contractors, and anyone who has dealings with your business.

2.       Pull out key points about these stakeholders. Write a list of key questions that are relevant to your stakeholders and your business. Bullet point the answers for each stakeholder. Be honest when writing this. Keep this document confidential within your company and make sure you are honest with yourself about your relationships with your stakeholders.

3.       Map your stakeholders. There are a number of stakeholder mapping tools available. A simple but very effective one is the “Influence v Interest map”. Draw two axes. Mark one Interest” from low to high, and the other “Influence” from low to high. Interest represents their level of interest in your business, while influence represents the impact they can have on you. Then plot each stakeholder group on this chart.

Once completed, you will see that your stakeholders fall into one of four groups:

1.       high influence, high interest;

2.       high influence, low interest;

3.       low influence, high interest; and

4.       low influence, low interest

Each group has different benefits and poses different challenges to your business.

For example, high interest, high influence stakeholders can help grow and develop your business, but can also impact heavily on you. Conversely, those low interest, low influence stakeholders are less likely to get involved and don’t require as much interaction.

This exercise provides valuable insights into your business and your stakeholders and really comes into its own when used to underpin your communication strategy. Just like the supermarkets who entice customers in with targeted vouchers, you can time and target your communication to specific stakeholder groups to have the greatest impact. And if your stakeholders are receiving timely and interesting communication from you, then it is less likely to end up in the recycling bin.

By Morwenna Tudor, Marketing and PR Manager, KMS Marketing

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