In this day and age of digital communications, we often get asked, what is the most effective way to change opinions and build stakeholder support? Our answer is not a digital ad, or a website or a social media post. While all those may have an important and legitimate role in an integrated communications strategy, positive word of mouth is still the best way to sway stakeholders.
People Trust Their Friends
If you are looking for a doctor, you probably search for physicians covered by your healthcare insurance. You then look at ones with offices near your home. After that it’s a matter of looking at reviews to see one that may be a good fit. But if you have a very strong recommendation from a family member or friend, the chances are very high you will choose the recommended doctor.
Stakeholders Trust Influencers
The same is true of stakeholders that may be impacted by your business. For our clients who are embarking on building a new project, expansion of services, or entry into a market, the first thing we recommend is getting to know the people who will be impacted or benefit from your project. If you have treated stakeholders fairly and with respect and demonstrated good will, that information will be passed along to others.
Talk to people with connections and credibility about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it will benefit the community. Once you have a group of influencers who understand your business, they will be credible sources of information — working their networks on your behalf. We use five main methods to connect with influencers.
- One-on-one meetings, small groups briefings
- Tours, site visits
- Community relations and outreach
- Advisory/sounding boards
- Special events, milestones, celebrations
Make sure stakeholder engagement is a priority in your communications mix. It may seem old school in this digital bells and whistles age, but it still works. Let us help you make it happen.