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Stakeholder relations management is a key skill
By Kim Harrison,
Consultant, Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
Effective management of relationships with stakeholders is crucial to resolving issues facing organizations. By using their influence, stakeholders hold the key to the environment in which your organization operates and the subsequent financial and operating performance of the organization. Thus the effective management of stakeholder relations is growing as a key focus of PR and organizational activity.
A stakeholder is any person, group or organization who can place a claim on an organization’s attention, resources or output, or is affected by that output. They have a stake in the organization, something at risk, and therefore something to gain or lose as a result of corporate activity.
The aim of stakeholder relations management is to influence stakeholder attitudes, decisions, and actions for mutual benefit. The stakeholders need to gain from the relationship or they may not be sufficiently motivated to cooperate.
1. Identify your stakeholders
List the people, groups or organizations who are affected by your project, who have influence or power over it, or have an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion.
Stakeholders can be assessed systematically according to criteria such as influence, impact and alignment. For example, these questions can help assess their relevance:
A very good way of finding the answers to these questions is to talk to your stakeholders directly – tactfully of course! People are often quite open about their views, and so asking them is often the first step in building a successful relationship with them.
2. Prioritize your stakeholders
You may now have a long list of people and organizations that are affected by your work. Some of these may have the power either to block or advance your activities. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care. Having identified your main stakeholders, you need to decide which of them are the most important. With limited resources, you should only deal actively with the most important ones.
|1. Access to key decision makers||X|
|2. Access to the media||X|
|3. Access to key information||X|
|4. Able to influence stakeholders||X|
|5. Sufficiently motivated to be active||X|
|Slight, if any||Moderate||Definite|
In the example above, the stakeholder would have a score of 16. The score for that stakeholder could be compared against the score of other stakeholder to decide who are the higher priority for active relationship management.
Another article will look at developing a matrix showing the important factors relating to each main stakeholder. This forms the basis of a comprehensive stakeholder relations management plan.
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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