Stakeholder engagement: Going beyond press contacts
What is stakeholder engagement and how can it supercharge your PR efforts?
The average public relations professional spends much of their time on media relations. And for good reason, as the press can efficiently communicate with the general public on our behalf. We're not knocking the press. Don't tell the press we ever said anything negative about them because we simply can't handle that kind of heat.
But what about other people, aka the non-press stakeholders? Who else can we build relationships with to get our news out there? The press will always be the priority; nobody would ever argue that, but they don't have to be the end-all, be-all public relations strategy. Let's identify a few fabulous stakeholders who should also be part of your network and can help amplify your PR efforts.
Ideally, the people who love your company most are the ones who are directly paid by your company. Your staff probably want to feel like they belong to something meaningful and want to share the important work they're doing on behalf of your company.
This is where the power of employee advocacy comes in. Employee advocacy is the idea that your staff are some of your biggest supporters and brand advocates. To help them become successful employee advocates, you can encourage them to amplify your brand's message to their own audiences. Now, the keyword here is to encourage. Don't constantly scream at your staff to retweet your company memes.
Improving employee advocacy can look like:
- Including your employees in your branding and content so they want to share it
- Creating assets that they can share
- Showcasing their work on socials with periodic employee shout-outs
- Asking employees to share their experiences on GlassDoor, Linkedin, Indeed, Twitter, and other channels
- Making your staff feel like part of a team
Employee advocacy starts with creating a culture where your employees feel valued, heard, and appreciated. Rarely do people want to advocate for an employer if they feel misunderstood, devalued, or disrespected. If you find that your employees are not interested in amplifying your brand message, it might be worth digging into why. Are there systems in place for your employees to share your brand messaging? Do they even want to?
So, we know what employee advocacy looks like, but how do we get employees engaged? This could be as simple as sending a Slack message, email, or post on whatever internal communications tool your team uses and saying some cheeky variation of the following:
It's me, your favorite [boss/PR person/comms intern/mascot]! As you all know, we recently launched [insert exciting thing]. We'd love it if you could [share with your network/engage with our social media post/send to anyone who might be interested]. Even a "like" would be awesome, but sharing is great too! We all worked hard to make this happen, and we're pumped to get the word out. No pressure at all if social media isn't your jam or you otherwise aren't interested. Thanks!
- The Mascot
Or you can even check out this real-life example of the Prezly founder doing exactly that on our team Slack channel:
People follow you on social media for a reason. Either they like your content, your product, your team, or maybe just your vibe. Social media followers range from your biggest fan to random bot accounts and everything in between. Perhaps even a mortal enemy or two snuck onto your follower list.
Utilizing your social media following to increase brand awareness is a fantastic strategy. Often, those who are following you want to see you succeed and are willing to amplify your message and share it with their audiences. Part of making this strategy successful is engaging with your followers beyond your own interests. You'll likely lose supporters and fans if they feel like your social media accounts are there to spew self-promotional spam.
An example of this is the London PR agency Icons & Machines. They're super engaged on Twitter, and we just adore their positivity and support:
Ways you can improve stakeholder relationships on social:
- Like, retweet, and boost their stories
- Leave comments and engage with their content
- Provide value in your posts that inform, entertain, and engage
- Reach out to your mutuals if you appreciate a piece of content or have a suggestion for improvement
The best way to build a fanbase that acts as a critical stakeholder is to be a fan right back. Engage with others' content, even on your brand channel. Participate in what they have going on, and they are more likely to reciprocate.
"Be a fan to gain a fan," that's what my grandpa always used to say.
Odds are, you have colleagues, other brands in your space, and influencers who are all invested in your success. Partner orgs can also look like vendors, suppliers, or even other brands whose products your agency uses as part of the daily workflow. Leveraging these existing relationships gives you easy access to many more potential stakeholder groups.
Ask them to collaborate in a way that results in a win for both and build up a partnership from there. Mutually beneficial relationships are great for everybody and more likely to net you exposure than saying, "Hey, can you share this thing that only matters to me?" five thousand times. Plus, a collaborative spirit will net you goodwill and a stronger relationship over time.
So, you're ready for that sweet collab. Here are some examples of pitches you can throw to your partner organizations:
- Link swapping/Guest posting - Writing content for each other's blog/website
- A podcast/interview episode - Each side gets content out of it
- A joint campaign - How this looks will vary wildly based on your industry but hey, anything is possible
- A collaborative study/piece of content - You can work with another brand to create a research study, a long-form article, or some other linkable asset that benefits both organizations.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's shocking how often brands fail to consider how current happy customers may want to support PR initiatives and campaigns. Loyal customers (may we even call them fans 👀) likely want to see your brand succeed. If you make them happy, they'll want to shout about your product or service from the rooftops.
Give your existing customers the info they need to start shouting, and they might surprise you. Simply ask them for a quote or testimonial, a rating on sites like G2 and Capterra (if relevant), or even a cheeky case study. Social proof is worth its weight in gold in the modern business landscape, and utilizing existing customers as stakeholders to amplify your brand is just a clever idea.
Published with Prezly
Create dynamic stories that showcase your brand’s personality.
Getting your customers involved is tricky because you want that sweet, sweet social proof, but you also don't want to spam them with requests for your own benefit. Try to be aware that your customers are busy, and be strategic about your requests for favors.
For example, we have a page that we created for Prezly customers to send to them when we think they might be happy with us (or have some helpful feedback):
An example request for social proof from a customer stakeholder could look like:
It's me again, your friendly customer relationships manager with [company]! I noticed you had a great troubleshooting experience with our customer support, and I was wondering if you might be open to posting a review for us on [link to relevant industry review site]? No pressure! Hope you're doing well, and thanks for being a great customer.
Just remember, it doesn't have to be long or take a ton of time to be meaningful. Some of the best social proof are simply happy customers who want to drop a little nugget of love to their favorite brands. Timing is everything when it comes to asking for quotes. The best time to ask for social proof is after a positive and successful customer interaction. Just ask nicely (and at the right time), reduce the friction for them, and watch those quotes and reviews roll in.
The media should only be the beginning of your outreach journey. Create a robust network of supporters, amplifiers, and fans by connecting with the people who are already invested in your success.
If you're interested in learning more about building stakeholder relationships, why not check out our newsletter? We won't flood your inbox 📥