Public affairs isn’t limited to the halls of Congress, state capitals, or city halls. Communicating and engaging with stakeholders—whether they are employees, grantees, or donors to your organization—is critical, as they can amplify your message and build your brand within the communities they live and work in.
Here are five examples of effective stakeholder engagement strategy:
1. Survey Your Stakeholders
2. Prioritize Stakeholders by Interest and Influence
3. Map Stakeholders to Measure ROI of Stakeholder Engagement
4. Communicate Company Activity Regularly
5. Log Meetings to Maintain Institutional Knowledge
While your staff holds relationships with lawmakers through formal lobbying and advocacy, your stakeholders likely have existing personal relationships with legislators that you may not be aware of. Perhaps they went to college together, were neighbors growing up, or their kids play on the same soccer team. By surveying stakeholders, you can learn what relationships exist in your network and use them to amplify the issues you care about.
Along with identifying existing relationships, use your survey to learn new things about your advocates—ask what issues are most important to them or if they would be interested in participating in a lobby day.
Learn three reasons for surveying your stakeholders as part of your stakeholder engagement strategy.
If your organization has a large number of stakeholders, it is an important part of your stakeholder engagement strategy to prioritize your stakeholders by their interest in being involved with your organization and their level of influence on particular issues. This can help segment your engagement. For example, if a stakeholder is less interested in being involved, you may want to be more limited in how often you communicate with them. Or, if a particular stakeholder has a lot of influence, you may want to be more personal with your outreach so that they are more excited about working with you.
Using a matrix template can be helpful to organize your stakeholders by interest and influence. Download your own editable stakeholder engagement matrix template.
There's no one size fits all strategy for stakeholder mapping, but its important to have a strategy in place to measure the return on investment of your stakeholder engagement efforts. How do you do that—by mapping your stakeholders (by whichever method your team chooses) at the beginning of the year, then tracking your engagement throughout the year, and re-mapping stakeholders at the end of the year, you can see how effective your team was at getting your stakeholders more engaged on the issues your team cares about.
Consider these five techniques for mapping stakeholders.
A key strategy for stakeholder engagement is consistently communicating company activity. For Coca-Cola, this means communicating with the launch of a new product, the promotion of a new community initiative, or the release of a Super Bowl ad—messages it calls “News from The Coca-Cola Company”.
With a digital tool to organize and communicate with stakeholders, Coca-Cola is able to track who is opening and engaging with the emails, prompting opportunities for further engagement.
Read Coca-Cola’s full case study to see how it communicates with stakeholders in Quorum.
Ever have a team member leave your organization and take all their relationships and institutional knowledge with them? Use a system to log meetings so that the information is maintained in an organized way rather than just in someone's head. And institutional knowledge isn't the only benefit of logging meetings. If your team is organized by issue and multiple team members are meeting with the same legislators, refer to notes from previous meetings so as not to cross wires and cause confusion with a legislator and their staff. Include notes on how good the meeting was and update your stakeholder map based on the quality of meetings with a given office. While taking a moment to log meetings can be an extra step in your work day, you'll work smarter when your meeting notes are organized in a digital system.