Stakeholder Communication & Engagement
Stakeholder Engagement Services
Organisations rarely communicate internally just to keep people informed. It would be great if they did, but usually there’s a trigger driving the outreach. For example, a reaction to a major issue/challenge. Or critical need for substantial change (direction/leadership etc.). Maybe it’s a shift in operational priorities (Merger and Acquisition/efficiency drive etc.).
Whatever the reason, we help you manage the interaction and outcomes, by identifying:
- Are we clear on what we want this engagement to achieve?
- How will this fit in with/support the strategic imperative?
- What information do we need to share (in what form) with which audience?
- Is there a logic underpinning this outreach, will people get it?
- What feedback mechanisms do we need to have in place?
- How do we leverage positive outcomes and mitigate dissatisfaction?
This approach provides the clear and efficient structure and roadmap needed to optimise engagement.
Finally, engagement is not ‘telling’ people what’s happening (or has occurred). It’s sharing (sometimes hard) information so stakeholders know what’s going on; what this means, and the options.
Stakeholder Mapping & Matrix
Here’s a Tip: Write a list of all the stakeholders your brand engages with.
Now triple that list.
Why? Most clients underestimate the number of stakeholders they have. On average, organisations have 20-30 individuals or groups who are important to that brand. And if you don’t identify and value these stakeholders, you’re missing out on building beneficial relationships.
Through detailed mapping of an organisation’s stakeholders, you get an insight into how relationships are valued internally. And because a stakeholder can be an ally, reputation-enhancer, or critic, knowing what makes them tick, and how to engage them must be high-priority.
So we developed The Now Protocol Stakeholder Matrix. This maps your key audiences via a simple, clear reference structure that highlights:
- Your critical audiences (internal and external)
- Their role and relationship with your brand
- Their specific needs
- The factors that influence their decision-making (related to you)
- Core messaging that will resonate with them
- Which channels are best to engage them through
Once this Matrix is mapped, you’ll have a single playbook and communication tool to engage every stakeholder. This simplifies the communication process, aligning every interaction to their wants and needs. So their experience with your brand stays consistent and positive. And messaging is delivered through their preferred communication channel.
The Stakeholder Matrix works a treat for both Not-for-Profit and For-Profit clients. And it’s available in a digital format for use across your organisation.
It may sound a bit “Life of Brian’, but all stakeholders want to be treated differently. So make them feel special and understood. Here’s two good reasons for doing this: Firstly, any stakeholder can trash a brand’s reputation online, so every interaction (no matter how small) should be treated as precious. And avoid prioritising one group over others because they’re perceived as more ‘valuable’ to you. Secondly, every stakeholder can have a positive impact on your brand. And in the ‘network-of-networks’ dynamic, one person can become the connector to larger groups.
Simple ways to build long-lasting stakeholder relations include:
- Showing them you know who they are, and what makes them tick
- Considering every interaction as mutually-beneficial
- Being proactive and value-add in your engagement with them
- Acknowledging the ‘stake’ they have in your brand doesn’t need to be financial, to be valuable
- Speaking their language, and connecting via their channel-of choice.
Stakeholder Communication in the Education Sector
Communicating clearly and effectively with stakeholders is fundamental in any organisation. But it’s especially important for the Education Sector. That’s because the hierarchy in, and power held by certain groups needs to be managed in a respectful and cogent manner. When consensus isn’t guaranteed, paying more attention to the needs and concerns of each group creates better connections, and outcomes.
Rule No. 1: Information is not nearly as valuable as Communication
We’ve been in scenarios where an approach or initiative was presented as a ‘done deal’. Signed of by leaders as the way forward. Let’s just say the response was ‘frank and open’ in its displeasure. The big learning: Get buy-in and you’ll get and you get to agreement faster (and with less rancour). Engage all stakeholders early and often, get their views and include the language the use and understand.
Rule No. 2: Think like ‘Water around a Rock’.
Dealing with stakeholder resistance (or disdain) with a ‘push-on-regardless’ approach is not an ideal strategy. Many change consultants are remunerated on achieving their KPI’s, so that’s what they concentrate on. But your stakeholders are much more invested and attached to their roles, responsibilities and position. Yes, hard conversations need to be had, but moving something deeply embedded eats up time and resources. By finding a way around sticking points or emotionally-charged triggers, the process can get to a better conclusion.