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Use stewardship techniques to safeguard relationships with your long-term stakeholders

01 Jun, 2020 Annual communication plans, PR planning, strategy, budgeting, Reputation, trust, stakeholder relations

Ongoing stakeholders are vital to you whether you are in a corporate communication role or a consulting role.

However, since many communication projects and programs are relatively short-term in nature, it is all too easy to move on and forget some of your most important stakeholders when an issue is resolved. It is easy to forget, or at least to put on the backburner, consideration of those stakeholders. Yet some of those stakeholders will continue to be important to you.

Good relationships can’t be turned on and off like a tap. You need to nurture them or they will wither. If you don’t nurture them, they will invariably be more difficult to resurrect when needed later. Good relationship management is required.

For instance, your organization may need to maintain a good relationship over a number of years with a legislator, government department, regulatory body, consumer association, supplier or shareholder group. They may influence decision makers or make their own decisions that could have a profound impact on your organization at a later time.

Such stakeholders may even be NGOs or pressure groups who are critical of your organization. Maintaining a dialogue brings about ties, even if they are uneasy, with the other party. It is harder for them to publicly criticize you when you have gone to the effort of maintaining a direct dialogue with them, which is in effect a continuing relationship with them. These ties can be valuable later when other issues involving them may emerge.

Your situation isn’t helped by the fact that most communication activities are relatively short term, contained within an annual communication plan as part of the annual strategic planning process. Once a year’s communication activities have been completed, the slate often starts clean again for next year’s activities – and last year’s stakeholders may tend to disappear from your view.

So what can you do to preserve a current and productive working relationship with your key stakeholders, some of whom are not immediately active at present?

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About the author Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from cuttingedgepr.com.

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