Telling the truth about SME life today

Stakeholder relationships: Why they should be managed

This isn’t just about remembering to send a bottle of wine to a client or some other adhoc gesture, but instead, it’s an increasingly important strategic function within your PR delivery.

So, who are our stakeholders The list is long and varied.

In essence, we’re talking about any individual or organisation who could influence or impact on our business’s goals and endeavours.

This may include:

  • Customers – because they either will or won’t continue to purchase your product or service on the back of your delivery; 
  • Investors – naturally, these have a financial interest in growth and success; 
  • Community groups – because their collective voice can have enormous bearing when it comes to issuing thought about your activity; and 
  • Influencers and opinion formers – from politicians to press, there’s always someone who can create either positive of negative messaging about you, your brand and your business practices.

As with any peer relationships, no-one is saying that by having a conscious approach to stakeholder relationship management, you’ll always avoid controversy or criticism.
But, by having a keen eye on this aspect of business life and viewing it as intrinsic to your decision making, it’s more likely you’ll be courting friends than enemies.
Here are some simple steps to get you started on your journey of improved stakeholder relationship management: Identify who your stakeholders are and take a look at which parties you have impact on, and why.

Consider each stakeholder group and assess how well you are currently engaged with them. Do you think they feel valued Do they know what you stand for

Explore the routes to repair damage or build bridges

If there are issues with some of your identified groups, there’s a lot to be gained by addressing them and finding a new pathway for a positive relationship.

Assess, address and maintain

Look at what the state of play is with stakeholder relationships, address any specific issues in so far as you can, and make it your business to maintain a better rapport in future.

This aspect of today’s PR model certainly doesn’t ensure everyone will end up loving you.

But, as with any relationship, you’re so much more likely to run the distance (and for both sides to be happy) if you communicate, know each other’s expectations, and do your best to spend time in the other party’s shoes.

Deborah Watson is an award-winning PR and marketing consultant who founded the communications agency Lexia Media. She advises businesses of all size and scale, helping overhaul strategies, implement new campaigns or managing daily media relations.


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