A few months ago, I authored a column for PR News entitled “Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations.” The article was based on work by Dr. Brad Rawlins of Brigham Young University to synthesize a new model for prioritizing stakeholders in a way that is especially relevant for communications managers: by communication strategy.

According to Rawlins, advocate stakeholders should be approached with action-oriented messages and engaged in third-party endorsements, letter-writing campaigns, donations, investments, attendance at functions, etc. Dormant stakeholders aren’t ready to be involved, but messages to them should focus on creating awareness and understanding of issues, or on reducing barriers to action and increasing emotional attachment. Adversarial stakeholders respond better to conflict resolution strategies than defensive messages. And apathetic stakeholders shouldn’t be ignored, since increasing awareness and engagement may help avoid having an issue morph into a crisis.

That article drew some responses that I wanted to share with you, below.

Frank Ovaitt
President and CEO
Institute for Public Relations

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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4 thoughts on “Prioritizing Stakeholders – The First Strategic Step

  1. Perhaps we could construct a whole new model from this blog discussion.  Now, that would be interesting.  That might warrant its? own research paper.

  2. The only existing system, as far as I know, that takes stakeholder relations into the overall company reporting model, beyond PR management, is the one presented in the recent Wiley book “Performance-Based Reporting: New Management Tools for Unpredictable Times.”

    This, of course, lifts the stakeholder measurement and management issues to an even higher level of significance.

  3. Classifying your stakeholders is key to building the most effective outreach campaigns.  About a year ago, I wrote a piece for PR Tactics that defined stakeholders as persons who come into contact with a given operation and broke stakeholders down into four basic categories:

    Distinguished (5% of stakeholders fall into these category, e.g., politicians [mayors], regulators)

    Specific-interest (70% of stakeholders, e.g., real-estate interests, attorneys, contractors, community leaders)

    Dedicated (5% of stakeholders, e.g., activists)

    General (20% of stakeholders, e.g., local children, local residents, passers-by)

    I have found that mayors tend to be the most significant stakeholders.  Reaching out to these leaders can be crucial.

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