How to develop a stakeholder engagement strategy
If, like many organisations, your business has multiple stakeholders – customers, board members, employees, neighbours – deciding on how to create a robust stakeholder engagement strategy can seem unsurmountable.
There is no doubt that the organisations that invest time in identifying who they need to influence, why it’s business critical and how best to engage reap rich rewards.
In this blog, we show you how to plan and implement a robust stakeholder engagement strategy.
Identify all potential stakeholders
The stakeholder mapping process defines who the people need to connect with are, based on your defined objectives. A good place to start is to identify sub-sections of audiences, for example employees, board directors, neighbours, customers, suppliers, influencers, specifiers, clients and past clients. This will give you a good structure from which to build on.
Prioritise your list
Rank your stakeholders by their impact on the successful delivery of your objectives. A useful approach is to identify the cause for engagement, e.g. awareness, support dissemination of information, transition to ambassador etc. Once this is understood it is much easier to highlight those who are most critical to your project.
Segment these stakeholders into levels of engagement ranging from those you need to keep informed (low level) right up to those you would wish to collaborate with (high level) and collate accordingly.
Identify your stakeholders motivations
Take the time to understand why your stakeholders should engage with you. Plot your messaging per audience group, remembering that if you can’t identify a good reason why they would want to engage, then it is doubtful that you will be successful in creating any meaningful dialogue.
It is unlikely that one person can undertake an organisation’s stakeholder engagement function on their own, therefore it makes sense that the responsibility is spread out across various colleagues with one or more individuals taking ownership for each segment.
The most senior executive should be allocated the priority stakeholders as this makes the best use of their valuable time, however, don’t underestimate the value of making everyone feel important and listened to.
Plan how to engage
Once you have identified your audiences and messaging, now it comes to planning your engagement calendar.
Often a good place to start is to plot your key dates, such as your launch and planning application date, and work back from there. Consider the best channels for communication, such as social, digital, e-newsletters, direct or PR, and set in place a timetable of engagement.
Be consistent and speak with clarity
By investing in a long-term strategy, you will benefit from a better understanding of stakeholder perspectives on key issues and build an effective programme of engagement resulting in better relationships with your stakeholders.