section will review the literature on corporate communication strategies and
will also look at the meaning of stakeholders, principles of stakeholder
engagement and steps in stakeholder engagement. Finally, it will look at
relevant theories and how these theories explain the study.
2.1 CORPORATE COMMUNICATION
explained by (Bahtiar, 2008), corporate communication strategies can
be viewed as the useful system which gives concentration and bearing to an
organization’s correspondence with its stakeholders. Corporate communication
involves choosing the communication that ought to be done to help with
accomplishing an organization’s goals, hence corporate communication strategy
is the approach that coordinates the function of corporate communication and
gives a sign of its positioning for the future. It is the system that drives
this function towards effectiveness instead of towards productivity.
should be noted that the corporate communication strategies ought to be
produced within the setting of the organization’s central mission and vision,
objectives and goals, corporate culture and policies. It creates a profile that
can be utilized to figure out which stakeholders of an organization ought to
get pretty much consideration. Corporate communication strategy is a proactive
capability to adjust the organization to changes in the expectations and
opinions of their stakeholders. It can create competitive advantage through the
early discovery and management of issues, including key stakeholders in basic
leadership – giving the organization the autonomy to focus on accomplishing its
communication strategy takes more modern methods of dealing with strategy, e.g.
adjusting the organization to patterns, events, and stakeholders in the
environment (‘adaptive’ strategy). It likewise concentrates on connections,
symbolic actions and communication, emphasizing attitudinal and intellectual
intricacy among various stakeholders, which is the substance of ‘interpretive’
strategy. Adopting this approach to strategy is effortlessly explained while
considering that the task of corporate communication is, by definition,
building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders/publics’.
corporate communication strategy serves as a connection between the capacity of
corporate communications and the business. Despite the fact that the corporate
communication strategy is impacted for the most part by the organization’s
undertaking procedure and gives vital contributions to the enterprise strategy,
it additionally supports the corporate and business methodologies.
process building up a corporate communication strategy gives the key approach
required by organizations to recognize issues and stakeholders proactively and
to oversee correspondence with their vital stakeholders.
stakeholder is any individual or group that either positively or negatively,
impacts or is affected by the choices and activities of an organization. It can
likewise be alluded to as any individual or group who has a personal stake in
the result of an organization’s activities. Stakeholders are classified in view
of the degree to which the choices of the organization influence them. We have
the individuals and groups who are directly influenced by the choices of the
organization, and there are the individuals and groups who are not specifically
affected by the choice of the organization.
of direct stakeholders include employees, creditors, contractors, investors, owners,
customers, clients, consumers, shareholders, vendors, distributors and
suppliers. While examples of indirect stakeholders include: government, unions,
community, cooperatives, industry associations, media, trade associations,
competitors, civil society, NGOs and academic institutions.
are likewise classified as internal and external partners. Internal
stakeholders are the individuals or bodies within a business (e.g., employees,
managers, the board of directors, investors), while external partners are
elements that are not within the business but rather think about or are
influenced by its execution (e.g., customers, suppliers).
2.3 STEPS IN ENGAGING WITH
the (AccountAbility, 2011) model, the steps
involved in engaging with stakeholders are:
Recognize Stakeholders and Key
stakeholders to perceive their interests, knowledge, and ability to engage and
categorize or outline stakeholders in view of their impact on the organization.
These are no impact, low impact, some impact or high impact. Alternative
dimensions that can be utilized to outline stakeholders include reliance on the
organization, proximity and so on. This can be refined through rating scales or
different strategies proper for the organization and context. It is vital to
prioritize which issues and stakeholders that are most imperative to the
organization and to distinguish the legitimate and responsible representatives
of each stakeholder.
Establish Objectives and Process
the extent of the procedure, frequency, level of engagement, channel and
method, setting goals and agreeing on expectations are vital to communicating
with stakeholders. Also, important is deciding the ideal strategies to
accomplish the set objectives and how the ensuing results can be measured.
Distinguishing all requirements for disclosure and engagement which might be
regulatory or financial and allocating the people or group in charge of the
procedure and doing the distinct segments of the plan are also vital to
stakeholder and company communication. Decide the resources required for
engagement and distinguish training needs in order to fully accomplish
stakeholder engagement. Set up a strategy for archiving all progress made and
ensure that the procedure pushes ahead as arranged, accumulate data, and
organize with any third parties that are included; emphasize commitment to
engagement overall levels of organizational corporate and working regions;
communicate progress to all stakeholders on a frequent and clear basis;
authorize composed grievance instruments to permit stakeholders an opportunity
to give feedback amid the process.
Review and Report
how results compare with original objectives. Utilize discoveries and criticism
to amend the plan as required and capture key learning’s that can be connected
to future stakeholder engagement activities. Give general and straightforward
information to stakeholders about the results of the engagement.
PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESSFUL
Engage with stakeholders early and
often: Proactive and straightforward correspondence with
stakeholders builds trust and demonstrates that the organization is committed
to the engagement process. It is essential to keep
correspondence lines with key stakeholders open, notwithstanding where this
might appear to be unneeded, as this can guarantee more successful critical
thinking when an issue arises.
Make it easy for stakeholders to comprehend:
Guarantee that the method (language, technology, medium, and so forth) of
engagement is easy to understand and available to stakeholders.
Adopt a long-term approach to
engagement: Developing a long-term relationship
with stakeholders can enhance stability and sustainability of operations.
Remain insightful and sincere:
Listening is essential to successful stakeholder engagement as stakeholders
will be all the more ready to take part if they feel that they are being heard.
Mutually define expectations:
Setting of objectives and a plausible engagement plan increase organizational
accountability. These should be adaptable in order to suit distinctive
interests of stakeholders that emerge.
Tailor the strategy to the
situation: Different stakeholders will require various levels
of engagement depending on the organization, size, and numerous other elements.
What is essential, is the quality and authenticity of stakeholder engagement.
Sensitivity to stakeholder progression:
Elements of culture, gender, and politics can be critical to various
stakeholders. Endeavors on the organization’s part to comprehend these as they
relate to these groups can guarantee that the organization is interfacing with
a person or group that is seen as a trusted specialist by the stakeholders it
is attempting to engage.
Engagement requires time and resource and thus, stakeholders’ expectations can
prompt disillusionment if their views are not satisfactorily incorporated into
2.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.4.1 AGENDA SETTING THEORY
theory, set by (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) highlights the
significance of the media in shaping how individuals think and how to think
about issues. The media do not just educate individuals on what to think about
in broad terms, but also how to think in particular, and after that what to
think. Thus, media shape top-of-mind presence regarding issues.
give a large group of cues about the salience of the matters in the daily news
– lead story on page one, other first-page display, huge headlines, and so on.
Television news likewise offers numerous cues about salience – the opening
story on the broadcast, period of time dedicated to the story, etc. These
signals rehashed for a long time successfully impart the significance of every
topic. Essentially, the news media can set the agenda for the general
population’s attention regarding that little specific gathering of issues
around which popular opinion forms.
theory lines up with corporate communications in that organizations utilize the
media as a strategy to change the mind of their stakeholders and the overall
public. With the media, organizations distribute what they want their
stakeholders to believe, they shape the psyche of their stakeholders with the
media and they utilize the media to adjust the mind of their partners to what
they need their stakeholders to believe.
2.4.2 DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS
is the “process by which a development is communicated through specific
channels over a period of time among the members of a social system”. An
innovation is “an idea, practice, or object that is seen to be new by an
individual or another unit of adoption”. “Communication is a process
in which participants create and share information with each other to achieve a
mutual understanding” (Rogers E. , 1971).
is a theory that seeks to clarify how, why, and at what rate new ideas and
innovation spread. Rogers argues that diffusion is the procedure by which a
development is communicated over time among the participants in a social
system. For (Rogers E. M., 2003), adoption is a
choice of “full use of an innovation as the best course of action
available” and rejection is a choice “not to adopt an
research has concentrated on five areas: (1) the characteristics of an
innovation which may impact its adoption; (2) the decision-making process that
happens when people consider adopting a new thought, product or practice; (3)
the attributes of people that make them more prone to embrace an innovation;
(4) the results for people and society of embracing a development; and (5)
communication channels used as a part of the adoption process.
(Rogers E. M., 2003) suggests that four
principle elements impact the spread of a new idea: the innovation itself,
communication channels, time, and a social system. This procedure depends on
human resources. The innovation must be broadly adopted with a clear end in
sight in order to self-sustain. Within the adoption rate, there is a time when
an innovation achieves critical mass. The information flows through networks.
The nature of networks and the parts opinion leaders play in them decide the
probability that the innovation will be adopted.
theory is important to this study in that it indicates how information is
imparted and adopted by audiences over time. When organizations convey data,
the information experiences distinctive stages, before it is embraced. The
individuals who embrace it on time are called early adopters, the individuals
who do not receive it on time are called late adopters, while the individuals
who do not trust the data or think that it is difficult to reconcile with the
information and what they see are called laggards. The theory additionally
demonstrates that the best method for motivating individuals to embrace
information or an idea is to utilize word of mouth or personal referrals.
Individuals have a tendency to trust their colleagues and friends; in other
words, information and ideas are embraced quicker when it is done through word
of mouth and referrals. Organizations trying to engage stakeholders ought to
see how information and ideas are received from groups of people.
2.4.3 GATEKEEPING THEORY
(Lewin, 1947) coined
the word “Gatekeeping” which means to block undesirable or futile
things by using a gate. Here, the individual who makes decisions is called the
“Gatekeeper”. The Gatekeeper chooses what information should move to
what group or individual and what information should not. The gatekeeper is
impacted by things such as social, cultural, moral and political matters in
choosing which information to let through. Through gatekeeping, the
undesirable, torpid and disputable information is expelled by the gatekeeper
which helps to control the general public or a group and put them on the right
a news editor who chooses which news to distribute or a pastor who chooses
which message to preach or an educator who chooses what to teach and what to
omit, organizations likewise utilize the gatekeeping theory to choose which
information to pass on to their stakeholders. Some information is hidden while
some are shared.
Model (adapted from http://communicationtheory.org/gatekeeping-hypothesis/2017)
2.5 EMPIRICAL FRAMEWORK
(Argenti, 2002) in his study on
crisis communication lessons from 9/11 published in the Harvard Business
review, gave insights into working with employees during crises. The
information was gotten from interviews with supervisors on their reactions to
the 9/11 tragedies. In another study, (Arpan & Roskos-Ewoldsen, 2005) in their study
Stealing Thunder: An Analysis of The Effects of Positive Disclosure of Crisis
Information, showed in their study an experiment that studied the idea of
stealing. Stealing thunder was defined as “when an organization releases
information about a crisis before the news media or others release the
information”. The results of the experiment found that stealing thunder brings
about higher credibility for an organization rather than allowing others to
report the crisis first. They gave additional evidence to support the notion of
being quick to tell the organization’s side of the story in a crisis. (Barton,
2001) in his article, gave insights into crisis management. He showed the role
of communication and public relations/affairs in crises management process and
the need to speak with one voice. The article provided information on crises
management process and the need to speak with one voice.
and Jorden (1993) in their article, stressed the need for a message strategy
amid crisis management. They posited that creating and sharing a strategy helps
an organization to speak with one voice amid crises.
a further study by (Coombs, 1995) Impact
of Past Crises on Current Crises Communication: Insights from Situational
Crises Communication Theory, published by Journal of Business Communication, he
demonstrated that past crises strengthens the reputational risk to a current
crises. Since the news media reminds people of past crises, it is normal for
organizations in crises to look past crises as well. He counseled that crises
managers ought to alter their reputational repair strategies. If there were
past crises, crises managers would need to utilize more accommodative
strategies than they typically would. Accidents are a good example of this.
Past accidents indicate a pattern of issues so individuals will see the
organization as being significantly more responsible for the crises than if the
accident were isolated. Greater responsibility implies crises is, to a greater
extent, a danger to an organization’s reputation and that the organization must
concentrate their response more on tending to the victims’ concerns.
(Coombs, 2004b) he showed this in a case
analysis of the West Pharmaceutical 2003 Explosion at its Kinston, NC Facility.
The study demonstrated that the case documents the extensive use of the
Internet to keep employees and various stakeholders educated and furthermore
built up a developed a list of crisis communication standards. The crises
communication standards offered suggestions for how crises managers can
coordinate their crises response to the nature of the crises themselves.
(Coombs & Holladay, 2006), examined in a
study what happens when a good pre-crises reputation can protect an
organization with a “halo effect”. The halo effect posits that strong positive
feelings of stakeholders for an organization will enable them to overlook a
negative event; it can shield an organization from damage to their reputation
amid crises. The study found that it was only in very specific circumstances that
this halo effect occurs as in most crises, the reputation of an organization is
inevitable damaged. Also according to the study, an organization accumulates
reputational capital by positively engaging publics before any crisis even
occurs. A crisis causes an organization to lose some reputational capital. The
more reputational capital an organization has before a crisis occurs, the
stronger the reputation will be after the crises and the easier it should be to
another study by (Downing, 2003) on American Airline’s use of mediated
employee channel after the 9/11 attacks published by Public Relations review,
the study demonstrated how American Airlines used its intranet, websites and
reservation system to keep employees educated after 9/11. The article likewise
remarked on the use of employee assistance programs after a traumatic event.
Recommendations included utilizing every accessible channel to advise and train
employees amid and after a crisis and also recommending that organizations ‘
grey out colour from their websites, reflecting the solemn nature of the
a study by (Sturges, 1994) Imparting through Emergencies: A System
for Organizational Survival, published by Management Communication, this
article emphasized how communication needs shift amid crises. The primary need
is for instructing information, the information that advises individuals how to
shield themselves physically from crises. The following need is adjusting information,
the information that helps individuals to cope mentally with the crises. The
basic emergencies response requests an attention on instructing and changing information.
The third and last kind of communication is reputation repair. Reputation
repair repair is just used once when training and modifying information have
(Taylor & Kent, 2007), their article
abridged the best practices for utilizing the Internet amid a crisis and
advocates for more organizations to use the Internet, especially websites,
during a crisis. The six best practices they cited are: (1) incorporate all
your conventional media relations materials on your website; (2) try to make
use of the interactive nature of the Internet for your crises web content; (3)
give detailed and clear information on websites when recalling a product; (4)
recount your side of the story on the crisis website including quotations from
managers; (5) when essential, make different webpages for various stakeholders
custom fitted to their interest in the crises and (6) work with government
agencies, including hyperlinks to relevant government websites.
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1 Adapted from: AccountAbility,
AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard 2011 – Final Exposure Draft.
2 SustainAbility, Practices and
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