Ward to the Wise

Stakeholder Relations: Communication VS Manipulation

values-good-communicationCompanies with a strong reputation for operating with integrity tend to enjoy greater customer loyalty, industry respect and employee pride.  Such companies understand the many reputational risks they face on a daily basis and make high-integrity stakeholder communication a high priority as well, while lesser companies seek solely to win at all costs during a public dialogue.  Integrity in company communication is recognized by reputable companies as an essential value in every facet of business, from the reporting of corporate financials to dealings with government entities to communicating with stakeholders.

Truth and Transparency

You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse – at least not for long.  Corporations that operate and communicate with integrity recognize that not all of their actions will be received with enthusiastic open arms by their stakeholders. This is particularly true with large transformational projects such as new roadways, pipelines and other similar initiatives that involve numerous stakeholder groups and have significant impact on communities.  While county officials may welcome the increased tax revenue a large project may bring, landowners may be worried about how it will impact their property values.  Environmentalists may be concerned about water quality issues. Companies operating with integrity know that these and similar concerns must be balanced and given the fair consideration they deserve.  These companies communicate with stakeholders in a spirit of fairness.  They are open, transparent and truthful regarding their project plans and how they will affect their stakeholders.  They acknowledge the potential negative impacts of their actions and the concerns of stakeholders and communicate their plans.  They effectively listen to concerned citizens to learn how they can mitigate the negative impacts.  They don’t try to gloss over the less-seemly aspects of their actions.  And, they don’t insult the intelligence of their stakeholders by dressing something up with a name or terms that they feel will be perceived as more customer-friendly or prohibit those affected by the initiative from discovering project information under the real project name used in analyst presentations and industry trade press.  Such corporate behavior is pure manipulation, not communication, and certainly not ethical.

Creating Goodwill

Companies that value integrity understand the long-term reputational advantage that comes with communicating fairly and truthfully.  They operate and communicate with integrity and in doing so build goodwill among stakeholders and positively enhance their corporate reputation. They value listening and cooperative problem-solving over getting one over on people to get their way at any and all costs to the communities they say they care about in their publicity efforts.

Are you looking for assistance in communicating openly and effectively with stakeholders about your corporate initiative?  Contact us. We can help you build a plan that addresses even the most difficult communications challenges – and effectively walks your corporate talk about the values from which your company operates.

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