Ethical stakeholder relations are the foundation to building mutual understanding with your publics.
The phrase 'stakeholder relations' is used liberally in private and public sector organisations. In reality, the way organisations put those stakeholder relations into practice can vary widely - depending on the needs of the organisation and their stakeholders.
No matter the approach, our interactions with stakeholders should reflect our organisation's culture and values. If we are truly honest and open then our engagement with stakeholders needs to be the same. The process should start with an honest stocktake of why we might matter to their clique. Whether we are trying to build knowledge, change opinions or attitudes, or simply be part of the conversation, we need to demonstrate why we deserve to be part of their clique. If we can’t find that value proposition, then we need to get to know them better. Even then, if there is no meaningful reason to engage – don’t.
If there is an opportunity, then protecting the interests of your clique should be integral to your approach. Honesty and openness means being sincere about why you want to connect with stakeholders and what the potential benefit to both parties might be. Financial benefits are a very small part of the equation. These principles are fundamental to a good relationship - like any relationship, you get out what you put in.
Having ethical stakeholder relations mean that your reason for engagement ultimately delivers real value to those stakeholder groups. It is often said that investment in any sponsorship property should be matched by a threefold investment in building, maintaining and leveraging that relationship. In reality far less is invested, but no matter the quantity, the initial agreement to work together is what paves the way for future success.
For The Clique, connecting with the cliques within each of your stakeholder groups means you have reached your core groups of influencers.