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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.



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
main goals.

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 described 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. There
are the individuals and groups who are directly influenced by the choices of
the organization, and there are the individuals and groups who are not.

stakeholders include employees, investors, customers, shareholders, among others,
while examples of indirect stakeholders include: government, unions, industry
associations, media, competitors, NGOs and academic institutions. Stakeholders can
also be classified as internal and external partners. Internal stakeholders are
the individuals or bodies within a business (e.g., employees, managers), 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).



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 ways
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 agree on expectations of stakeholders. Another
important process is deciding the ideal strategies and resources to accomplish
the set objectives and how the ensuing results can be measured.

Implement Plan

should, ensure that the procedure pushes ahead as arranged, accumulate data,
and organize with any third parties that are included, they should emphasize
commitment to engagement overall levels of organizational corporate and working
regions, communicate progress to all stakeholders on a frequent and clear basis
and create a way for permit stakeholders an opportunity to give feedback amid
the process.

Review and Report

how results compare with original objectives. Utilize these discoveries and
criticism to amend the plan as required and capture key learning’s that can be
connected to future stakeholder engagement activities and also communicate to
stakeholders the results of the engagement process as this fosters trust
between them and the organization.



Engage with stakeholders early and
often: Communication with stakeholders builds trust and
demonstrates that the organization is committed to the engagement process.
is essential to keep correspondence lines with key stakeholders open, even when
it may appear to be unnecessary.

Make it easy for stakeholders to
comprehend: Guarantee that the method of engagement
is easy to understand and fully available to stakeholders.

Adopt a long-term approach to
engagement: Developing a long-term relationship
with stakeholders can enhance stability and sustainability of any 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 any other 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.

Recognize challenges:
Organizations should factor in stakeholder expectations and prepare for any
challenges that may arise as a result of these expectations not being met.




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.



is a theory by (Rogers E. , 1971) that seeks to clarify how, why, and at
what rate new ideas and innovation spread. An innovation is “an idea,
practice, or object that is seen to be new by an individual or another unit of
adoption” and 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 choosing to make full use
of an innovation and rejection is a choice not to adopt an innovation.

(Rogers E. M., 2003) suggests in his
research that four principal elements impact the spread of a new idea: the
innovation, channels used to communicate the idea, time, and a social structure.
The innovation must be broadly adopted with a clear end in sight in order to

theory is important to this study in that it indicates how information is
imparted and adopted by audiences over time. When organizations transmit new
ideas, they usually go through distinctive stages before it is embraced. Those
who embrace it quickly are called “early adopters”, those who do not are called
“late adopters”, while those who do not trust the information or find it
difficult to reconcile with the information and what they believe to be true
are called “laggards”. Additionally, individuals have a tendency to trust their
colleagues and friends over the organization directly; 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 diverse groups of people.



 (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



their study, (Arpan & Roskos-Ewoldsen, 2005) performed an
experiment that studied the idea of “stealing thunder” which was defined as
“when an organization releases information about a crisis before the news media
or others release the information”3.
They also argued a case for of being quick to tell the organization’s side of
the story in a crisis rather than waiting for external entities to report the
crisis. (Barton, 2001) in his article, also gave insights into crisis management,
showing the role of communication and good relations between an organization
and its publics in order to manage crises effectively and the need for an
organization to speak with one voice amid a crisis; while Garney and Jorden
(1993) in their article, stressed the need for a message strategy amid crisis

a further study by (Coombs, 1995), it was
demonstrated that past crises strengthen
the reputational capital in current crises.
Since the news media reminds people of past crises, it is normal for
organizations to look at past crises as well. 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 the extensive use of the Internet to keep employees and
various stakeholders educated amid the crisis. The crises communication
standards offered in the study were also 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 which 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
inevitably damaged. Also according to the
study, an organization should ideally have a good reputation among its relevant
publics before any crisis even occurs. The better an organization’s reputation before
a crisis occurs, the stronger their reputation will be after the crises and the
easier it should be to repair.

study by (Downing, 2003) on American Airlines use of mediated
employee channel after the 9/11 attacks, took a look how American Airlines used
its intranet, websites and reservation system to keep employees educated after
9/11. The article remarked on the use of employee assistance programs after a
traumatic event and recommendations included utilizing every available channel
to advise and train employees during and post-crisis and advising that
organizations ‘ grey out colour from their websites, reflecting the solemn
nature of the situation.

a study by (Sturges, 1994), this article emphasized how
communication needs shift amid crises. The primary need is for the information
that advises individuals how to shield themselves physically from crises. The
following need is the information that helps individuals to cope mentally with
the crises. The third and last kind of communication is reputation repair. Reputation
repair is just used once when training
and modifying information have been given.

(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. Some of these best practices they cited were to incorporate
all conventional media relations materials on their website, try to make use of
the interactive nature of the Internet for their crises web content, give
detailed and clear information on websites when recalling a product, tell their
side of the story on the crisis website including quotations from managers,
make different webpages for various stakeholders custom fitted to their
interest in the crises and work with government organizations, including
hyperlinks to relevant websites.


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1 Adapted from: AccountAbility, AA1000
Stakeholder Engagement Standard 2011 – Final Exposure Draft.

2 SustainAbility, Practices and
Principles for Successful Stakeholder Engagement, October 2007.

Arpan, L., & Roskos-Ewoldsen, D. (2005). Stealing
thunder: An analysis of the effects of proactive disclosure of crisis
information. Public Relations Review, 31(3), 425-433.