The Covid-19 pandemic has seen consumers retreat to trusted brands.

That’s great if yours is already trusted. But Covid-19 has also created and opportunity for challenger brands – Edelman found more than a third of people have started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way the brand has behaved since the pandemic began.

Key to managing both sets of stakeholders will be professional stakeholder management – which aims to build constructive relationships with individuals who can have a positive or negative impact on your organisation’s reputation.

If you haven’t got a structured stakeholder management programme already, it involves:

  1. Identifying your stakeholder groups – internal (e.g staff, management); Funders/owners, Communities – local, communities of interest etc; Opinion leaders – e.g. politicians, NGOs, media, experts, pressure groups; Competitors, Customers and Suppliers
  2. Determine the current and desired relationship with each – are they a critic, advocate, supporter, blocker or neutral and where do you want each to be
  3. Identify which are your key stakeholders – using the Winstanley matrix or Power/Interest grid
  4. Determine your priorities among key stakeholders and who is responsible for managing them
  5. Create a message matrix and develop communication tactics to manage all groups towards target outcomes
  6. Developing actions and metrics to measure their effectiveness against desired outcomes.
  7. Reviewing outcomes and how your stakeholder engagement programme can be improved.

The final point is crucial – stakeholder management is an ongoing process – not a one-off ‘feelgood’/PR exercise. The below slide from the Edelman Trust Barometer shows you why.

However good your relationship with key stakeholders, their trust can disappear very quickly, as the rapid slump since May 24 in the approval rating for the UK Government over the Dominic Cummings Lockdown journeys shows (below).

So you can’t afford to relax in the “warm bath of complacency” or they will soon chuck in some ice!

And don’t forget that as well as defensively protecting relationships with key stakeholders, a stakeholder management programme can create and improve relationships with other groups and win new business by doing so.

Just what your organisation will need in recovering from the effects of Covid-19 – build on existing positive relationships.

 See also my earlier blogs about: