Australian Government,  Blog post,  stakeholder engagement

Stop engaging those that yell the loudest

Increasingly in government communications teams, we are delivering stakeholder engagement. This isn’t new, we have always had a role in engaging with the media, Minister’s offices and creating content for the general public. More recently, our skills in analysis, strategy and relationship building are being used to engage more formally with industry groups, peaks bodies and lobbyists.

I liked this definition from the UK Government Communications Service says:

Strategic engagement is a relatively new discipline and entirely unique within government which is about building and maintaining relationships with influential individuals and organisations, listening/gathering insight, encouraging advocates, building awareness and coordinating/delivery stakeholder activities.

A great way to get started on strategic engagement is to understand your audience. This is often a part of the process that is missed, we just jump in and get started. Too often, we focus on those that ‘yell the loudest’ rather than those that are more influential or interested. Audience analysis is so critical to ensure you are putting your effort in the right place.

Recently I worked with a client to analyse their stakeholder base. They had fallen into the trap of focusing resources and time on a small number of stakeholders that called, emailed and posted on social media regularly. I wanted to see if those stakeholders were the right ones to be spending their limited staff time on. Did those groups create the impact and the outcomes the organisation needed, as much as meeting their own needs?

Today, I thought I would share the tool I prepared for them. It is a simple way to show what type and level of engagement they needed to be undertaking with different groups.

I can’t take full credit for this tool, the UK Government Communications Service uses the ‘Boston Matrix”, IAP2 uses the inform, consult, collaborate model, and many others use the interest/influence approach. I created this for the specific needs of my client, but I thought others working in government would find it useful.

This is a simple tool, but it will require some time to complete it. You will need to do some desktop research and probably talk to some other people in your organisation about each group. I know, I know, you don’t have time but trust me it’s worth the effort!

Based on your research, plot each group based on their influence and interest. You may adjust the parameters I provided depending on your stakeholders, for example in your sector having 1000 followers is highly influential as no one has 10,000 followers. You will then have a simple visual of where each of your stakeholder groups sits in comparison to the other, and where you should be putting your effort.

“Stakeholder engagement is about knowing who your stakeholders are, understanding them and knowing how best to involve them in your business.” UK Government Communications Service.

To be effective you need to know who your stakeholders and how influential they are across the sector or to a broader audience. This tool can help you work it out!

It’s a great first step in developing your stakeholder engagement plan! (PS – The UK Government Communications Service has a great toolkit that will also help you develop your strategic engagement plan).

What are you waiting for? Get started today!

Need help developing your stakeholder engagement plan or undertaking strategic analysis, contact Elm Communications.

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