How to Create a Stakeholder Communication Plan

For the success of any company, communication with its partners and stakeholders is so important. Through effective communication, trust is built, relationships can be maintained and improved, and there’s some insurance that the organization is on the same page as its stakeholders.

A stakeholder communication plan outlines how an organization communicates with its stakeholders. You need to know about crafting a plan to foster stakeholder engagement and achieve an organization’s objectives.

Let’s learn how to create a stakeholder communication plan:

1. Identify Your Stakeholders

A stakeholder engagement plan is essential for your business. However, you can’t have a stakeholder communication plan if you don’t know who your stakeholders are. In outlining your stakeholders, you will understand internal stakeholders (employees or managers) and external stakeholders. It helps you understand them as customers, suppliers, private and public investors, and the community in which your business operates.

2. Define Your Goals

A stakeholder communication plan can have a few different objectives. To build trust and authority. To establish and build on relationships. To increase company awareness. To solicit feedback. To provide information. Identify what your goals will be in a general sense. Once you’ve got that nailed down, you can start exploring communication strategies.

3. Make All Goals SMART

Every goal you set for a stakeholder should be SMART. That is ‘Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.’ You don’t want to overreach, have objectives that are too general and that can be easily misinterpreted, or have a goal that you can’t measure, definitely proving it to be successful or not. The more realistic and achievable the goal, the better. Have a plan.

4. Communication Strategies

Under the guise of achieving your objectives, each objective will have one or more strategies underneath it. These strategies are pulled from communication types. You might hold regular meetings, in in-person, by phone, or via video. You may have an email newsletter that goes out on a schedule. Social media can play a role. There are lots of options.

5. Different Strategies For Different Stakeholders

You wouldn’t communicate with a client the same way as a regulatory government body, sponsor, or employee. Each stakeholder type should have its unique strategy set for them. Whether internal or external, a stakeholder communication plan may have as many as a dozen different strategies or more being used simultaneously.

6. Outline A Schedule

Communication has got to be consistent, to some degree, no matter which stakeholder you’re engaging. To ensure strategies are effective, have a calendar with the ‘when’ and ‘how’ communication is to be. This may pull from sub-strategies, such as using regular updates, popularizing special events, and sharing milestone celebrations.

7. When To Plan Interactions

There are lots of events that may unfold in your organization, necessitating stakeholder communication. If you are going to make a decision that affects them directly or indirectly, related to costs or service, that’s a reason to schedule an interaction. Consider when, throughout the year, as well as what situations would merit communication with specific stakeholders.

8. Evaluate Your Strategies

No one plans a strategy to fail. Yet they occasionally do. Have a way to monitor how a communication strategy is going. You can set out metrics, such as stakeholder engagement or response rates. With the information returned, minor or major adjustments can be made, hopefully improving your stakeholder communication plan.

9. Be Open To Feedback

Stakeholder communication plans are all about generating feedback and keeping stakeholders engaged with your company. It creates a divide if you don’t have the support of stakeholders or they aren’t fully engaged with a project or decision. That wedge can create a big problem and cause certain stakeholders to drop off. Listening to feedback is important.

10. Set Stakeholder Expectations

You aren’t just communicating with stakeholders during and after a project. You’re sharing expectations and letting stakeholders know what to expect with quality, delivery date, and more. Depending on what’s being completed, a stakeholder communication plan is supposed to inform, educate, and ensure stakeholders are kept in the loop with where things are headed.

11. Publicize Measurable Results

You want your stakeholders to feel good about their decision to do business with you. In your stakeholder communications, publicize when you accomplish your objectives. When there are measurable results to share, do so. Reinforce a perception of success and relate it to the initial expectation you’ve set for the stakeholder.

12. Assign Management Responsibilities

Assign someone the role of administrating the stakeholder communication plan. They will get the communications out, assess any recommended changes, and optimize the stakeholder communication plan. If your communication plan is complex and detailed, you may want to assign multiple people to ensure every stakeholder is properly handled.

13. What A Stakeholder Plan Is And Is Not

Consider a stakeholder communication plan as a type of public relations. It is not a marketing plan. It is not a way to advertise new products or services. It is not a plan to ask for sponsorships. A stakeholder communication plan is also not a business plan. It’s strictly tailored to the interaction between your organization and the stakeholders identified.

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