Interested in learning more about the strategies our quiz recommended to other teams? Scroll through to learn our beginner, intermediate, and advanced strategies for stakeholder mapping, communication, and measurement.
Beginner — Map stakeholders by team member assignment and issue
Mapping by team member assignment involves your team assigning each stakeholder to a particular person on your team. The assignment can be based on their role, the issue within your portfolio they are connected to, or simply who they have a personal relationship with on your team. This mapping strategy is an important starting point so if you need to communicate with a certain stakeholder, you can quickly see who has the strongest relationship and will be the most likely to get the desired result from a conversation.
Mapping stakeholders by issue helps quickly identify who you should work with when an issue becomes a priority focus for your team. By mapping stakeholders by issues, you can quickly answer questions like, “What key stakeholders do we have on renewable energy?” This way, if new legislation is introduced or you’re working on a new community initiative within that policy area, you can quickly sort for the key stakeholders with whom you need to communicate and engage.
Intermediate — Map stakeholders by tiers of significance to your organization
Organizations we work with who are at an intermediate level expand their stakeholder mapping to include tiers based on importance to their organization’s goals. Each stakeholder is assigned a 1, 2, or 3 score, with 1 representing your most important stakeholders. For example, the presidents of local nonprofits and community organizations who work in the same issue area may be “Tier 1” stakeholders, while mid-level professionals at those organizations would be “Tier 2”, and social media influencers on the issue may be “Tier 3”.
Advanced — Map stakeholders on an interest/influence matrix
An interest-influence matrix plots your stakeholders into one of four quadrants — high interest and high influence, high interest and low influence, low interest and high influence, and low interest and low influence. One simple way to use this matrix is to place stakeholders within a quadrant based on your qualitative knowledge of that stakeholder.
You can take this to an even more advanced level by using data to inform where stakeholders are plotted within the matrix.
For example, you can use their job title as a metric of influence. Then, if you’re tracking stakeholders’ social media dialogue, you can use the volume of social media posts mentioning an issue as a metric of their interest. If your stakeholders are policymakers, you can use their legislative successes such as sponsorships or cosponsorships as a metric of influence.
Beginner — Build a newsletter strategy that keeps stakeholders engaged
A stakeholder newsletter allows your team to be in communication with your key contacts on a regular basis, rather than just when you have an ask of them. To keep up the conversation, we recommend creating a policy reputation calendar — a month-by-month themed calendar that will be the subject of your communications and provides opportunities to show the company’s community involvement.
By building name recognition and providing valuable content in a stakeholder’s inbox, they’ll be more likely to engage with your content, and therefore read and engage your messages when you do have an ask.
Intermediate — Create segmented communications based on your team’s stakeholder mapping
At a beginner level, your team is likely sending a newsletter to your stakeholders. To take it to the next level, you should be sending unique messaging to different audiences based on a variety of potential segmenting opportunities. For example, you could segment your lists based on stakeholders’ relevant issues, by tier of the stakeholder significance to the organization, by job title or by organization type.
By narrowing your communications to the most relevant stakeholders, you’ll be more likely to drive engagement with your content. A best practice? Adjust the name of the sender of your emails to align with your segmentation so that emails appear to be sent from the person each group of stakeholders is most familiar with. They’ll be much more likely to open an email from a familiar name.
Advanced — Go beyond traditional email newsletters to build events into your engagement strategy
Events are a more memorable way to interact with stakeholders and will leave an overall stronger impression of your business and brand. Events also provide a way to identify who your most engaged stakeholders are. Attending an in-person or virtual event takes much more time and commitment than reading an email, so if someone consistently attends your events, you can likely expand the ways they work with you and impact the issues your organization cares about.
Even if your organization won’t hold in-person events in the near future, digital events like webinars can still be effective. In fact, there are some advantages to digital events over in-person ones. Digital events are more cost-effective than in-person and you don’t have to limit your guest list based on geographic location or venue space. You may also find it easier to book speakers who were previously unavailable now that the ask to join a video call is easier than speaking at an in-person event.
Beginner — Track the inputs of your stakeholder engagement efforts
The best time to set up your stakeholder reporting mechanisms is at the beginning of the year so that you collect the right data to report out at the end of the year. The most basic form of tracking is tracking your team’s interactions with each stakeholder. Recommend to your team that they track their engagements — including in-person meetings, calls, and emails — in a team-wide system. Then, at the end of the year, you can report on how many meetings you had and who on your team had the most interactions with stakeholders.
This basic tracking will provide secondary benefits outside of reporting. For example, if a new person joins your organization, they can quickly glean institutional knowledge by reading through meeting notes. Or, on the other hand, if someone leaves the organization, their institutional knowledge remains in their meeting notes rather than leaving with them.
Intermediate — Move beyond tracking inputs to also tracking results
To properly report on stakeholder engagement efforts, your team should be tracking their meetings and interactions. Then, once you’ve got a tracking system down, build reports that dive deeper into the kinds of interactions that are driving results. To do this, prepare a spreadsheet with your inputs side-by-side with your desired outputs.
For example, if your goal is to engage stakeholders to drive more interest in your team’s policy preferences, align the number of interactions with your stakeholders side-by-side with their social media mentions of those issues. Then, map the correlation between the number of interactions with that stakeholder and their mentions of your issue. While you can’t prove direct causation, you can infer whether greater engagement drives greater dialogue. Then, you can start segmenting in different ways to identify best practices. Did meetings led by a certain team member correlate to more dialogue from stakeholders? Did phone calls drive more engagement on your issues than emails?
Advanced — Report on the quality of your meetings and build other custom organization-specific metrics
S&P Global utilizes a best-practice method to report on its stakeholder engagement efforts by collecting custom inputs after each interaction and then using those aggregated metrics to show results to organization leadership. The S&P Global government affairs team logs interactions with three key components — they list the issue that was discussed, their meeting a quality score, and detail about what was discussed and any necessary follow-up. The quality score metric they developed is based on the seniority of the person they met with and to what extent that person expressed support for their issue.
By adding all of this data as each meeting happens, they can pull reports anytime senior leadership asks for an update rather than spending significant time at the end of the year pulling all of their data together. S&P uses this data to report on insights such as how much time passes between interactions with high priority stakeholders, whether their team is holding equal meetings across their issues or if one issue has been taking priority, and whether they are effectively moving relationships forward.