Monday, February 26, 2007

Stakeholders and Planning

This entry is a combination of discussion questions from Strategic Communications Planning and "Priortizing Stakeholders for Public Relations," Brad L. Rawlins, March 2006.

Can the terms stakeholder and public be used interchangeably?

According to Rawlins (2004), the answer to this question is simply no. Rawlins states that often the terms are used interchangeably, "but they shouldn't be." I originally had a hard time understanding the difference between the two. It seems that I have always been taught, or at least been under the assumption, that stakeholders are publics and publics are stakeholders.

Rawlins points out that stakeholders are identified by "their relationships to organizations," but publics are identified based on "their relationship to messages." But aren't stakeholders always recipients of an organization’s messages? Don't all publics have some sort of relationship with the organization? If they don't have a relationship why are they publics?

We must remember what Freeman's (1984) definition of a stakeholder is. In the broadest sense of the term, Freeman defines a stakeholder as "any group or individual who is affected by or can affect the achievement of an organization's objectives." In the narrower definition, however, Freeman states that a stakeholder is "any identifiable group on which the organization is dependent for its continued survival (see Free, R.E. 1984. Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Boston: Pitman Publishing).

On the other hand, Wilson and Ogden (2004) define publics as "segmented groups of people whose support and cooperation are essential to the long-term survival of an organization or the short-term accomplishment of its objectives" (Wilson, L.J. & Ogden, J.D. 2004. Strategic Communications Planning for Effective Public Relations and Marketing. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing)

From what I have read it seems that sometimes the two terms can be used interchangeably, but it's not always this way. I believe a public is always a stakeholder, but a stakeholder is not always a public.

Why are employees "critical to the effectiveness and efficiency of [an] organization?"

Employees will generally be grouped into the functional linkage of Grunig and Hunt's model. Functional linkages "are those that are essential to the function of the organization" (Rawlins, 4). Without employees it is impossible to operate a business. Center and Jackson (2003) wrote, "The first public of any organization is its employees -- the people who make it what it is" (Center, A.H. & Jackson, P. Public Relations Practices: Managerial Case Studies and Problems. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall).

I truly believe that an organization can only be as successful as its employees are happy/satisfied with their jobs. Take Google for example. In January 2007, Fortune Magazine named Google as the No. 1 company to work for in America. I don't think it is a coincidence that Google is doing so well and its employees are so happy. I remember an internship I did last summer. Many of the employees were not happy working for this company and the company suffered as a result. Consequently, the company's second-in-charge left the company and two of us followed thereafter. If a company's employees are not happy, the business suffers.

Employees are also the ambassadors of an organization. If they have a good relationship with their employer they are more apt to promote the organization to their friends and associates. Conversely, if they are unhappy at work it seems that they will tell everyone possible about how bad the company is.

What are the benefits of planning before implementing?

The beginning of this chapter gives an interesting quote from an anonymous source: "If you fail to plan, plan to fail." How true this statement is! Planning is so critical to implementing an effective campaign. Some may say we can't afford to spend time planning, we must start implementing. I say we can't afford not to plan. Planning ensures that we will only employ the most effective of techniques to achieve our goals and objectives. Like Wilson and Ogden have stated, "unless we know where we are going and have some idea of an appropriate course to get there, our arrival at the destination will be left to chance" (96).

Our planning is must be based on intense, good research. If it is will we greatly increase the chances of achieving success in our goals and objectives. I'm sure that no executive ever plans to fail, but we he/she may not realize is that by failing to plan effectively they are doing just that.

1 comment:

Eve_S said...

Implementing a communication plan is so important. Method123 has some great templates for this.