The seven biggest stakeholder mapping blunders

If the words ‘stakeholder matrix’ send you into a cold sweat, you’re not alone.

When you start to consider the number of stakeholders involved with a campaign or project, the thought of mapping them into a matrix of influence, support and opposition, may seem like a monumental task.

But stakeholder mapping should not be overlooked if you want a really solid communication strategy to grow your business and anticipate challenges.

So, get onto that matrix! But first, consider (and avoid!) these common mistakes:

  1. Thinking stakeholder mapping is not part of PR
    Stakeholders are at the core of public relations. By definition, ‘public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics’.
    Once you have established the objective of a campaign or project, understanding who the stakeholders or ‘publics’ are, what influence they hold, and how to best engage in a two-way conversation with them, should be the cornerstone of your strategy.
  2. Not putting enough resources into it
    Don’t leave it up to one person to remember a cast of thousands. Get some people together and brainstorm.
    Identify all the players and group them by their influence, support or opposition to your cause.  You may also need to do an in depth issues-audit of the industry.
  3. Forgetting social media
    Your followers on social media are advocates and opponents – don’t forget to consider them during the mapping process.
    There are a whole host of challenges and opportunities when you look into your social media factions. Use your knowledge of these stakeholders proactively rather than waiting until an issue develops.
  4. Focusing on the wrong people
    Once you have identified who your stakeholders are, you need to work out how much influence they have. Don’t focus all your energies on a stakeholder that contributes little or nothing toward your objectives.
    Stakeholder mapping is crucial in placing the most powerful influencers right where you can see them.
  5. Leaving timing up to chance
    Timing is everything and each stakeholder has their own schedule. When you are mapping a particular group, consider when key events are held.
    For example, if university students are key influencer on your map – make a note not to do any important communication with them in the middle of exam block.
  6. Not integrating your stakeholder maps into issues management or other communication plans
    If you go to the effort of mapping your stakeholders, don’t file it away and forget.
    A stakeholder matrix is an important piece of research that should inform your communication strategy and subsequent plans – allowing you to optimise and align your activities with the maximum number of people.
  7. Not listening
    Perhaps the most critical of all stakeholder activities is listening. Once you have your stakeholder map – use it. Listen to what your supporters are saying and find out what’s stopping those blockers from helping you move forward.

IMPACT has held many stakeholder mapping workshops for clients to improve their communication strategies. Contact IMPACT Communications for more information.

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