Engaging with non-media stakeholders is an important part of any PR strategy. But a lot of communications professionals find the task of reaching out to stakeholders they have never worked with before daunting. If you feel the same, you are probably asking yourself: How am I supposed to find them? How can I make that initial connection? How do I get started?
The good news is that it doesn't have to be complex or awkward. In fact, we learned that a good starting point is with the stakeholders you already have.
This may seem too easy to be worth the effort, but engaging with your colleagues is a really effective way to build brand advocacy. It's not uncommon for organizations to build up teams of employees who act as vocal ambassadors for the organization. Practically, it can be as simple as emailing colleagues to ask if they'd be willing to share the story with their own social channels.
But you can go further. Why not empower other colleagues by giving them (temporary) access to your organization’s social channels? Your colleagues are a good starting point since they are easy to reach and already have a strong relationship with your organization.
Just remember that this only makes sense if you're open to allowing colleagues to have their own voice and identity when sharing your stories.
Your social media followers
Another stakeholder group, often overlooked, are the people already following your organization on social media. A basic first step is making sure you share quality content regularly to your social media profiles, allowing followers to engage with your content and potentially share it with others.
But why not use those channels to identify key stakeholders? You could say something like: "Hey, we've got some exciting news coming up on topic X. We'd love to have a chat with people who are interested. Please comment or DM."
Regularly inviting your followers to participate and engage in your organization’s plans will help you identify interesting stakeholders you weren't even aware of.
Your willingness to listen and work with those stakeholders is key to making this pay off.
Your partner organizations
Your organization doesn't operate in a vacuum. It is part of an ecosystem, in which it formally and informally interacts with other organizations: suppliers, unions, retailers and dealers, politicians and tons of others.
By mapping those organizations in your ecosystem, you can see how they can help you with getting certain messages across to your target audience. Again, leveraging the existing relationship gives you easy access to many more potential stakeholder groups. Start by asking them to collaborate around distributing stories that result in a win for both and build up a partnership from there.
There are more ways to go beyond your press contacts to make a big impact, but making the most of these three existing stakeholder groups is a great start. You probably already have ideas on the type of content you can pitch or a good angle on which to get in touch.
So… what are you waiting for?