This is part two of a three part series about communication strategy. This information is largely adapted from a paper I wrote for a class taught by Peter Schechter of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates at The George Washington University.
As the technological advances change they way we communicate, companies can no longer use the funnel approach—writing a press release without engagement—to share a message. Today, companies are held responsible for their actions by social media and the participatory paradigm. Stakeholders, who are the people that care about what a company is doing or an issue they are involved with, can and should play an active role in the direction an industry goes.
Stakeholders are not just an audience or the public. The public as a whole is largely unconcerned about any particular industry’s happenings. Communications should not be wasted on people who don’t care and won’t engage. Rather, stakeholders can become the greatest advocates for a company, an industry, or a movement if they are utilized correctly.
To use the example from part one, the corn industry goes beyond just the farmers producing the product. The transportation and distribution industries are also effected by corn prices. By moving stakeholders to act—in this example getting the truckers association to also lobby on your behalf—policy-makers hear a different voice. This voice may seem more legitimate because it lacks the same bias as the direct association and shows the reach of the issue. This will help influence decisions and prevent regulatory encroachment.
The growing power that these stakeholders have—both the supporters and opponents—is excellent for the future of our world. It has pushed companies into being more socially responsible. Part three of this series will further explain the role individuals have in the success or destruction of an organization.