3.2 Communicating with community stakeholders
In Week 2 you identified the stakeholders in your community and considered their interests. Working with multiple stakeholders can be a complicated process and you may have to adopt different ways of communicating and engaging with different community stakeholders. As you found earlier, stakeholders can have competing views on their community’s interests and activities so it can be difficult to negotiate between them.
You can use the power/interest matrix you came across in Week 2 to think about possible aims of your communications with different stakeholders: this is depicted in Figure 6 below. This time each of the boxes tells us the type of communication strategies we might use with each of the different stakeholder categories.
Looking at the boxes now, you can start to think about different levels of communication which will suit the different stakeholders:
- High power/high interest people must be fully engaged. This group is the one that organisations will work with closely.
- High power/low interest people need to be involved in determining any decisions arising from what is being communicated.
- Low power/high interest people need to be kept well informed and consulted.
- Low power/low interest people should be monitored but they may not want to become heavily involved in the organisation’s work.
Communicating effectively will help your work within the community. Managing the sometimes diverse interests and demands of different groups in any community is a challenge that can be met more successfully when communication helps to coordinate work within the community and to build consensus on what makes the community safer and more cohesive.
Some common examples of community communication:
High power/high interest groups may be engaged by methods such as:
- public testimony in government venues (such as local councils)
- service user and other stakeholder representatives on boards
- participation in collaborative project teams and task forces
Common methods for ensuring low power/high interest groups are informed or consulted are:
- regular meetings with community representatives
- periodic meetings with stakeholder groups (such as community meetings)
- conducting case studies with service users and providers.
- social media engagement activities e.g. Facebook or Twitter groups
Typically lower interests groups can be kept informed by such things as:
- website communications
- annual reports and other publications provided to the public
- press releases
- partner service events e.g. fire and rescue, police or emergency services presence at a school fete
- guest speaking engagements at meetings
Some of these communication methods are more participatory and engage with stakeholders in a way that empowers them and gives them a voice. Other strategies are simply a means of communicating the main activities of a community service organisation. However, all of these activities are ways in which public service or voluntary organisations can communicate with community stakeholders, and manage their stakeholder relationships and the expectations of their stakeholder groups.
In the video below, Police Officer Ben Hargreaves talks about his experience of communicating with different stakeholders in his community.