The Future of Stakeholder Engagement

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1 The Future of Stakeholder Engagement Views of Senior European Communicators on Current and Future Best Practice February 2013

2 Table of contents Introduction Key findings The current state of stakeholder engagement Benefits and risks of stakeholder engagement The future of stakeholder engagement Blueprint for success: What does it take to build a successful programme? Implications About the study BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

3 Introduction Conventional wisdom holds that Stakeholder Engagement is important and organisations should be doing it. But there s very little data available about what it is, or about the benefits and risks organisations see from engaging in new ways with groups they may not have dealt with in the past. The purpose of this survey was to explore what stakeholder engagement looks like with those who are closest to the front line: senior European communicators at large corporations, government bodies, NGOs, associations and other organisations. Several questions drive this research project: What exactly are organisations doing in terms of stakeholder engagement and with whom? What are the risks and benefits they associate with engaging with non-traditional stakeholders? (i.e., stakeholders other than employees, suppliers, business partners, or customers/members) And, perhaps most importantly, what does the future of stakeholder engagement look like from senior communicators perspective? We were able to include communicators across a variety of organisational types and sectors in the survey. However, respondents were predominantly from the corporate world and half were based in the UK (nearly 4 in 10 of the UK respondents were from FTSE 100 companies). The remainder were distributed across Europe, with sizeable proportions of respondents in Brussels/Belgium (15%) and Germany (11%). Where significant or interesting, differences between the UK, Brussels/Belgium and Germany are highlighted in the report. While the results of this survey offer a unique perspective and provide a blueprint for creating a successful programme, they tell only part of the story. To provide a more global context, Brunswick Insight is currently conducting similar research in the United States and China, and will issue the results as soon as they are available. BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

4 Key findings Senior communicators across Europe (82%) consider stakeholder engagement to be important to their organisation s success, with 55% saying it is extremely important. The scope and scale of stakeholder engagement activities are expected to increase dramatically in the next five years, with a sizeable increase in the percentage who say engagement will be important to their organisation s success (90%) and nearly as many saying their organisation will be doing more engagement in the future (82%). Most (80%) believe senior management at their organisation understand and appreciate the value of stakeholder engagement. However, while the team at the top appears to understand the value of engagement, more work remains to create buy-in across and down the organisation, as respondents say lack of understanding, particularly at these levels, is the biggest internal obstacle to creating engagement programmes. One way to increase understanding and buy-in could be to have a more strategic approach, where success is clearly demonstrated. Currently, at most organisations, stakeholder engagement tends to be ad hoc (79%) rather than strategic and just three in ten (29%) use specific KPIs to measure the success of their organisation s engagement. Communicators appear ready to make this shift as more than eight in ten (85%) say it will be important for their organisation to have an engagement strategy in five years time. Currently, communicators are much more likely to engage with traditional (e.g., employees, suppliers, business partners, customers/members) rather than non-traditional (e.g., NGOs, consumer groups, special interest groups, activist groups) stakeholders. Communicators acknowledge that engagement with non-traditional stakeholders carries sizeable risks, the biggest of which is the possibility of not meeting expectations (60%). Four in ten or more are also concerned about possible damage to their organisation s reputation (45%), wasting time and money (42%), and loss of control (41%). Nevertheless, most communications professionals have already seen compelling evidence of the benefits of engagement for their organisation. The biggest benefits include improved reputation (89%) and increased understanding of their organisation and its activities amongst stakeholders (89%). Primary responsibility for engagement activities tends to reside with communications (32%) and corporate affairs (23%). Currently, two in three communicators (68%) feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and resources required to engage properly. This suggests that securing additional resources for engagement will be important for communicators if they are to cope with the pressure, navigate expected risks and deliver results BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

5 The blueprint for creating a successful stakeholder engagement programme now and in the future is surprisingly consistent, requiring: Trust Mutual respect Commitment from the top of the organisation Alignment with the organisation s long-term goals At present, social media and online engagement activities tend to involve more monitoring than active engagement but that is expected to change in five years time. While 79% currently monitor social media channels, just 30% blog, 28% map online influencers, and 19% create online panels at present. However, one in three (34%) think social media and online tools will be the most effective ways to engage with stakeholders in general in five years time. In contrast, when it comes to engagement with non-traditional stakeholders, in-person meetings (75%) are expected to remain the most effective way to build deep and lasting relationships. While there is no substitute for in-person meetings, communications professionals recognise that they will need a combination of engagement techniques to work effectively with both traditional and non-traditional stakeholders in the future. BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

6 The current state of stakeholder engagement Reputation management is the top priority for corporate communicators, followed by stakeholder engagement When asked to rate the importance of a variety of activities they encounter in their jobs to the success of their organisation, senior communications professionals are most likely to say that reputation management (93%), stakeholder engagement (82%), internal/employee communications (82%), crisis communications (79%), and media relations (79%) are important (rating of 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5). Few believe that stakeholder engagement has no impact on the success of their organisation. In fact, only 18% of communicators say they have yet to see any compelling evidence that stakeholder engagement has a direct impact on the success of their organisation. (% who rate each as ) Reputation management Stakeholder engagement Internal/ employee communications Crisis communications Media relations Issues management Corporate communications Investor relations Public affairs, lobbying Marketing/brand and consumer communications Corporate social responsibility and sustainability Social media engagement 93% 82% 82% 79% 79% 78% 77% 74% 67% 65% 65% 49% 6% 1% 16% 2% 17% 2% 16% 5% 19% 2% 19% 3% 19% 4% 11% 15% 19% 15% 25% 11% 22% 13% 35% 17% Q. Here are several activities that communication professionals may encounter in their jobs. For each, please indicate how important you believe it is to the success of your organisation [1 to 5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) Top box (4-5) Middle box (3) Bottom box (1-2) Views on the importance of stakeholder engagement differ by market: while 91% of those in the UK rate it as important, fewer in Brussels (65%) or Germany (50%) consider it as important Communicators in Brussels are especially likely to rate public affairs/lobbying (80%) as important, while those in Germany are more likely than others to rate marketing/brand and consumer communications (71%) as important BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

7 Talking to the people who matter to your business about the things that matter to them. Defining stakeholder engagement: a dialogue for understanding, mutual benefit and business success There is widespread consensus in how communicators define stakeholder engagement. When asked to describe stakeholder engagement in a sentence or two, six in ten (61%) respondents define it as a two-way dialogue with those who have an interest in, are affected by, or can influence your organisation. (% who describe stakeholder engagement as...) Two-way dialogue with key parties who have an interest in your company or organisation / who may be affected by your decisions / can influence your organisation and its decisions Ensuring key stakeholders are well informed / have access to information about your company 13% 61% Q. How would you define stakeholder engagement in a sentence or two? Identifying who your key stakeholders are and understanding what their views / expectations are 5% Ensuring coordination with stakeholders on issues of mutual interest 4% Regular communication with relevant parties 4% To ensure positive attitude of key parties / positively influence stakeholders 3% Involving stakeholders in / listening to outside opinion in the decision making process 2% Demonstrate you are open to stakeholders / their concerns 2% Other 8% BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

8 Communicators more likely to engage in traditional stakeholder engagement activities at present; online activities lag behind When asked to say which of a number of stakeholder relations or engagement activities their organisation is currently doing, communicators are much more likely to mention traditional rather than non-traditional activities. The top five activities are: monitoring traditional media (94%), membership in industry groups (87%), creating lasting relationships with stakeholders (86%), attending networking events (85%), and hosting events (80%). In terms of social media, while most (79%) say they are monitoring social media channels, respondents are much less likely to be blogging (30%), mapping online influencers (28%), or creating online panels to share information (19%). (% who say their organisation is doing each of the following ) Monitor traditional media Membership in a trade association or industry group Long term engagement to create lasting relationships Attend networking events Host events Monitor social media channels Ad-hoc engagement on specific issues of concern to your organisation Survey stakeholder s views and concerns Map stakeholders Host roundtables or panels Map issues Have a stakeholder engagement strategy Use social media for purposes other than marketing Undertake consultation exercises as you develop policies and programmes Publish and share thought leadership work Blog Map online influencers Create online panels to share information 94% 87% 86% 85% 80% 79% 79% 72% 69% 68% 62% 61% 56% 52% 52% 30% 28% 19% Q. Currently, which of the following types of stakeholder relations or engagement activities does your organisation do? Please select all that apply. (Base=130) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

9 Communicators in the UK are particularly likely to say they survey stakeholders views and concerns (80%), use social media for non-marketing purposes (67%), and undertake consultation exercises as they develop policies and programmes (61%) Communicators in Brussels are particularly likely to say they map stakeholders (85%), host roundtables or panels (85%) and have a stakeholder engagement strategy (80%) Communicators in Germany are particularly likely to say they are members of a trade association or industry group (93%) or they host events (86%). They tend to be less likely than others to say they attend networking events (57%), map stakeholders (57%) or issues (36%) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

10 Traditional rather than non-traditional stakeholders top the list of important stakeholders Most communicators rate their company s business partners (84%), national government (83%), employees (83%), and traditional media (76%) as important stakeholders. Fewer say EU institutions (64%; 95% for Brussels/Belgium) and local government (60%) are as important. Non-traditional stakeholder groups, such as activist groups (30%), online communities of interest (28%) and charitable organisations (23%), are much less likely to be rated as important. (% who rate each stakeholder as important ) Business partners National government Employees Traditional media EU institutions Local government Consumers Local communities Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Consumer groups Special interest groups Universities/academics Activist groups Online communities of interest Charitable organisations 84% 83% 83% 76% 64% 60% 52% 50% 45% 44% 40% 40% 30% 28% 23% Top Box rating of 4 or 5 Q. Likewise, how important to your organisation would you say engagement is with each of the following stakeholder groups currently? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

11 Benefits and risks of stakeholder engagement Prompted biggest benefits: improved reputation, increased understanding of the company, longterm relationships and better understanding of stakeholder concerns and expectations When asked to rate a list of possible benefits of stakeholder engagement in terms of their importance, communicators are most likely to say improved reputation (89%), increased understanding of the organisation (89%), developing long-term relationships (88%) and better understanding of stakeholder concerns and expectations (84%) are important. The benefits they are least likely to rate as important are demonstrating to others that you re engaging (53%), product innovation (44%), and facilitating social change (35%). (% who rate each as important ) Improving your organisation s reputation or image Increasing understanding of your organisation and its activities Developing long-term relationships Better understanding stakeholders views, concerns and expectations Better understanding of views of those on the other side of an issue Influencing the views or actions of other stakeholders Building a network of advocates Avoiding conflict before it emerges Resolving or reducing conflict Identifying and mitigating the risk of crises Creating better public policy Attracting and retaining high calibre employees Sharing expertise Collaborating to develop programmes and policies for the organisation Finding a solution to a complex problem Demonstrating to others that you re engaging Product innovation Facilitating social change 89% 89% 88% 84% 78% 78% 77% 74% 68% 65% 63% 62% 60% 59% 57% 53% 44% 35% Q. How important to you or your organisation are each of the following as possible benefits of doing stakeholder engagement? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

12 Communicators in the UK are more likely than others to say increasing understanding of their organisation (95%), avoiding conflicts before they emerge (81%), and attracting and retaining high calibre employees (73%) are important benefits of engagement Those in Brussels are more likely than others to say building a network of advocates (90%), creating better public policy (90%), and finding solutions to complex problems (70%) are important benefits Communicators in Germany are more likely than others to say product innovation (57%) is an important benefit of engagement If done well to the right people, they will tell your story for you much more powerfully than you can. Customers will want, not just need, to buy from you, investors will increase their holdings as trust and confidence grows - and in a crisis, you will be given the benefit of the doubt BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

13 Volunteered biggest internal obstacles to stakeholder engagement are lack of understanding and buy-in, and lack of resources (people, budget and time) Several factors emerge as internal obstacles to conducting stakeholder engagement programmes, most importantly lack of understanding and buyin (29%), lack of people and budget (18%), lack of time (15%), and the lack of a joined-up approach (13%). Two thirds (68%) of communicators agree that stakeholder engagement is important but they feel overwhelmed sometimes by the amount of time and resources required to do it. Lack of understanding about the importance of engaging in a timely, consistent and credible way with stakeholders. To many colleagues, stakeholder engagement looks like a PR exercise, which does not deserve time and effort. BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

14 Volunteered biggest external challenges or risks are identifying and prioritising stakeholders, loss of control, and expectation management When asked to volunteer what they consider to be the biggest external challenges or risks to stakeholder engagement, one in ten or more communicators mention: being able to identify who to engage with (12%), loss of control (12%) and expectation management (11%). Dialogue carries risks - people may not always get the message or love it but people will talk about you anyway, so we need to be in there shaping the debate about ourselves and our industry BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

15 Prompted biggest potential risks of engagement for their organisations Respondents were also asked to rate a list of possible risks to their organisation from engagement with non-traditional stakeholders (i.e., stakeholders other than employees, suppliers, business partners, or customers/members). Expectation management emerges as the number one potential risk (cited by 60% of communicators), followed by concerns about reputation damage (45%), waste of time and money (42%), and loss of control (41%). (% who rate each as significant ) Not meeting expectations Reputation damage Waste of time and money Loss of control Compromised principles or goals Internal tension within your organisation Criticism or attack Exploitation of your organisation Loss of credibility Creates conflicts of interest Dilutes the message your organisation is trying to communicate Slows down the organisation Loss of intellectual property Harm to sales 45% 42% 41% 39% 39% 37% 35% 30% 30% 28% 27% 24% 18% 60% Top Box rating of 4 or 5 Q. How significant a potential risk do you think each of the following is for your organisation when conducting stakeholder engagement with non-traditional stakeholders? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all a risk; 5= extremely significant risk] (Base=130) Communicators in Brussels are more likely than others to see loss of control (65%) and reputation damage (60%) as significant risks Those in Germany are more likely than others to think criticism or attack (57%) is a significant risk BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

16 Primary responsibility for engagement rests with communications and corporate affairs organisation s More than half of all respondents (55%) say that primary responsibility for coordinating their organisations stakeholder engagement activities rests with the communications (32%) or corporate affairs (23%) department. A quarter (25%) say that no single department has responsibility. (% who say ) Communications Corporate affairs CEO, Chairman or Organisation Board CSR/foundation Operational or business unit level head 9% 3% 3% 23% 32% Q. Which department within your organisation has primary responsibility for coordinating stakeholder engagement activities? (Base=130) Strategic planning and risk 1% All the above departments/ No single department has responsibility 25% Other 4% Just four in ten (39%) say there is one person in their organisation that has ultimate responsibility for managing their organisation s stakeholder engagement. (% who say ) 7% 39% Yes No Don't know/ no answer Q. Is there one person who has ultimate responsibility for managing stakeholder engagement in your organisation? 55% Among those that have one person with ultimate responsibility, this person either reports to the most senior person in their organisation (42%) or reports to the most senior person and also sits on the board themselves (40%) Among those organisations that do not have one person with responsibility, engagement is most often managed by a department or business unit (32%) or the comms/corporate affairs team coordinates engagement (21%) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

17 Half measure the effectiveness of their engagement Half of all communicators (52%) say their organisation measures the effectiveness of their engagement efforts. Only three in ten (29%) measure the effectiveness of their stakeholder engagement with specific KPIs. (% who say ) Don't know, 12% Q. Do you measure the effectiveness of your stakeholder engagement efforts? (Base=130) No, 37% Yes, 52% Among those who measure the effectiveness of their stakeholder engagement efforts formally with KPIs, market and opinion leader research is the most common method of doing so (50%). Nearly half (44%) of communicators agree that they feel pressured by their organisations senior leadership to quantify their stakeholder engagement efforts. BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

18 The future of stakeholder engagement Importance of stakeholder engagement expected to increase in the next five years When asked to rate the importance of stakeholder engagement to the success of their organisation, communicators believe stakeholder engagement is set to become even more important in five years time - going from 82% today to 90% in the future. (% who rate each as important to organisation success) Now 82% Now 90% In five years time In five years' time Q. Please indicate how important you believe stakeholder engagement is to the success of your organisation [1 to 5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) Q. Now looking ahead to the future. How important do you think stakeholder engagement will be in five years time to the success of your organisation? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) There is little change in perceptions for UK and Brussels communicators, around nine in ten respondents in each market rate stakeholder engagement as important both at present and in five years time (UK 91% now, 89% future) However, communicators in Brussels and Germany believe the importance of stakeholder engagement will increase (Brussels 65% now, 90% future; Germany 50% now, 79% future) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

19 Quantity of stakeholder engagement expected to increase in the next five years Not only will stakeholder engagement be more important, but communicators expect to be doing more of it. Four in five (82%) communicators believe their organisation will be doing more stakeholder engagement in five years time. (% who say ) Less, 1% Same, 18% More, 82% Q. In five years, do you expect your organisation will be doing more, the same amount or less stakeholder engagement? (Base=130) Communicators in Germany (86%) and Brussels (85%) are slightly more likely than those in the UK (77%) to say their organisation will be doing more stakeholder engagement in five years time BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

20 Communicators believe traditional stakeholder engagement activities will remain important but view online activities as increasingly influential When asked to say how important various types of stakeholder relations or engagement activities will be to their organisation in five years time, communicators are increasingly focused on developing a more strategic approach, mapping and considering their online options within their stakeholder engagement strategy. There is a sizeable difference between the proportion of respondents who have a stakeholder engagement strategy now (61%) and those who believe that having one will be important in five years time (85%). Communicators also expect to see substantial increases in the importance of mapping stakeholders (79%) and issues (78%). Similarly, in terms of social media, majorities (73%) think monitoring social media channels and mapping online influencers (60%) will be important in five years time. However, while creating online panels to share information (46%) or blogging (36%) is predicted by some to be important in the future, these percentages are still below half. Most communicators (87%) agree that social technologies offer new opportunities to build relationships. Clearly, developing a stakeholder engagement strategy will be a key focus for many organisations in the next five years, as three in five (58%) agree that currently their organisation has a wide variety of stakeholder engagement programmes, but no overarching engagement strategy BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

21 Activity rated as Organisation important Net is currently in five Difference doing years' (Base=130) time Mapping online influencers 28% 60% +32% Creating online panels Hot 19% 46% +27% to share information topics Having a stakeholder 61% 85% +24% engagement strategy Mapping of issues 62% 78% +16% Publishing and sharing thought leadership 52% 65% +13% work Mapping of stakeholders 69% 79% +10% Blogging 30% 36% +6% Using social media for purposes other than 56% 62% +6% marketing Undertaking consultation exercises as you develop 52% 58% +6% policies and programmes Long term engagement to create 86% 88% +2% lasting relationships Conducting surveys of stakeholders views 72% 71% -1% and concerns Monitoring social media channels 79% 73% -6% Hosting roundtables or panels 68% 59% -9% Hosting events 80% 62% -18% Monitoring traditional 94% 69% -25% Cooling topics media Attending networking events Becoming a member of a trade association or industry group 85% 56% -29% 87% 56% -31% Q. Currently, which of the following types of stakeholder relations or engagement activities does your organisation do? Please select all that apply. (Base=130) Q. How important do you expect each of the following types of stakeholder relations or engagement activities to be to your organisation in five years time? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

22 Communicators in the UK are particularly likely to say that in five years time the following activities will be important: long term engagement to create lasting relationships (91%), conducting surveys of stakeholder s views and concerns (77%), monitoring social media channels (77%), using social media for non-marketing purposes (70%) and undertaking consultation exercises as they develop policies and programmes (67%) Communicators in Brussels are particularly likely to say attending networking events (70%), and becoming a member of a trade association or industry group (75%) will be important in five years time Communicators in Germany are particularly likely to say that publishing and sharing thought leadership work (79%) will be important in five years time. While two in three (64%) say having a stakeholder engagement strategy will be important BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

23 If an organisation does it in a structured way with a consistent strategy, and relationshipmanagement, then not much will fundamentally change. The channels to reach key constituencies will change, with a growing focus on social media, but even here this should never usurp strong face-to-face engagement where trust and mutual respect are best fostered. Volunteered: Future engagement expected to use more social media and online, to complement on-going face-to face interaction Communicators volunteer a range of suggestions as to how stakeholder engagement will look in the future, with social media and online (34%) and face-to-face engagement (15%) considered to be the most effective ways to engage with stakeholders in the future. (% who describe it as ) Social media / online Face-to-face will remain key / become increasingly important More transparency / honesty Building personal relationships will remain key Similar to present / current principles will remain Coordinated / aligned across organisation 15% 8% 7% 7% 6% 34% Q. In a sentence or two, what do you think the future of stakeholder engagement will look like? What will be the most effective ways to engage with stakeholders in the future? (Base=130) Broader engagement across organisation - beyond CEO / comms team More monitoring / measurement / assessment More engagement with non-traditional stakeholders Joining focus to solve problems for mutual benefits 6% 4% 4% 4% More central to companies' activities 3% More long term engagement 2% More time / resources invested in stakeholder engagement 2% More direct contact 2% More regular / active communications Dedicated departments / specialists / skilled individuals Other 2% 2% 14% BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

24 The best way to engage with stakeholders is to build longterm relationships and be open and honest, even in the difficult times. Prompted: In-person meetings the most effective way to communicate with non-traditional stakeholders in five years time When asked to rate several channels of communication in terms of how effective they would be with nontraditional stakeholders in five years time, respondents rate in-person meetings (75%), web-based collaboration tools / applications (43%) and working groups (36%) as most likely to be effective. This suggests that a mix of communication channels will be necessary, but that face-to-face communications will remain the best way to build trust and mutual respect with non-traditional stakeholders. (% who rate each as most effective ) In-person meetings Web-based collaboration tools / applications Working groups Website Trade or industry association Blogs Conference speaker opportunities 43% 36% 26% 25% 22% 20% 75% Q. Which of the following do you think will be the most effective ways to communicate with non-traditional stakeholders in five years time? Please select up to three. (Base=130, multiple responses allowed) 12% Panels 9% Videoconferencing 6% Conference calls (voice only) 3% Mobile text messaging 3% Two thirds (68%) say developing alliances with non-traditional stakeholders will be key to successful programmes and policies in the future BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

25 Blueprint for success: What does it take to build a successful programme? Developing a successful stakeholder engagement programme and achieving your organisation s objectives involves putting in place several elements, some of which will likely require collaboration with internal stakeholders, as they may be outside the control of the communications team. Factors that are considered most important to success for programmes Communicators say the most important factors for creating a successful stakeholder engagement programme are trust (95%), commitment from the top of the organisation (93%) and mutual respect (92%). Nearly as important are alignment with organisation s long-term goals (88%), transparency (86%), and long-term focus (84%). (% who rate each as important to success) Trust Commitment from most senior people in the organisation Mutual respect Ensuring the program aligns with your organisation s long-term goals Transparency Long term focus Identifying areas of mutual interest Being clear about what success looks like Personal relationships Identifying and avoiding possible conflicts of interest Shared values Increased credibility from working with others Building alliances with non-traditional stakeholders Focus on social purpose 95% 93% 92% 88% 86% 84% 80% 79% 71% 65% 60% 58% 44% 37% Q. Thinking now about creating successful stakeholder engagement programs. How important are each of the following for a stakeholder engagement program to be successful? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

26 Communicators in Brussels are more likely than others to say transparency (95%) and shared values (80%) are important Interestingly, while communicators in Germany are more likely than others to say identifying and avoiding possible conflicts of interest is important (79%), they are less likely than others to say identifying areas of mutual interest is important (57%) Almost all communicators agree companies that acknowledge the link between their stakeholder engagement and core business goals are more likely to be seen as honest and credible (99%) and that success requires long-term commitment (98%). Four in five (80%) communicators agree that senior management at their organisation understand and appreciate the value of stakeholder engagement BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

27 Factors considered most important to success for programmes now will be equally important in the future. Communicators tend to rate the factors for creating a successful stakeholder engagement programme at present as similarly important in five years time. While there are slight differences in the order of importance, the top six factors remain unchanged: commitment from the top of the organisation (97%), trust (95%), alignment with the organisation s long-term goals (92%), long-term focus (91%), transparency (90%) and mutual respect (87%). (% who rate each as important to success) Trust Commitment from most senior people in the organisation Mutual respect Ensuring the program aligns with your organisation s long-term goals Transparency Long term focus Identifying areas of mutual interest Being clear about what success looks like Personal relationships Identifying and avoiding possible conflicts of interest Shared values Increased credibility from working with others Building alliances with non-traditional stakeholders Focus on social purpose Now 95% 95% 93% 97% 92% 87% 88% 92% 86% 90% 84% 91% 80% 74% 79% 85% 71% 75% 65% 59% 60% 65% 58% 79% 44% 55% 37% 57% In five years Q. Thinking now about creating successful stakeholder engagement programs. How important are each of the following for a stakeholder engagement program to be successful? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) Q. How important will each of the following be for a stakeholder engagement programme to be successful in the future, say in five years time? [1-5 scale, where 1 = not at all important; 5 = extremely important] (Base=130) Communicators in Brussels are more likely than others to say mutual respect (100%), identifying areas of mutual interest (80%), identifying and avoiding possible conflicts of interest (70%) and building alliances with non-traditional stakeholders (65%) will be important in five years time Communicators in Germany are less likely than others to say transparency (79%), mutual respect (71%), shared values (50%) and a focus on social purpose (36%) will be important in five years time BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

28 Implications The results of this survey demonstrate that communicators believe stakeholder engagement is important to the success of their organisation, and will only grow in importance in the future. As organisations contemplate engagement with non-traditional stakeholders, several important implications emerge from the research that should guide thinking and behaviour: 1. Internal understanding and buy-in are a prerequisite to success. They exist but, as we see, even greater understanding and buy-in across and down the organisation are needed if programmes are to be as effective as possible 2. Alignment with the organisation s long-term goals is an important element of this buy-in process, and requires greater integration with the overall business strategy. Senior communicators will need to ensure they are part of the process of setting their organisation s strategic compass 3. Short-term, ad hoc engagement is likely to be less effective than a long-term, strategic approach. A strategic, joined-up approach will enable organisations to engage in the most effective ways, both in terms of time and budget. Such an approach will involve a clear engagement plan for each stakeholder group, and the ability and flexibility to use traditional and new modes of engagement as required 4. The sheer amount of time and effort needed for engagement activities is likely to increase significantly. Communicators will need to lobby for additional resources to cope with the growing internal pressure for results and external expectations for sustained engagement 5. Managing the expectations of non-traditional stakeholders will be key to creating programmes that deliver on objectives. As we see, establishing trust and respect, as well as being transparent about where the organisation s and stakeholders interests converge and diverge, will be critical to keeping expectations in check 6. Measurement is a useful way to demonstrate effectiveness and justify increased focus and budget. Communicators need to establish realistic, outcome-focussed KPIs for their programmes and track them over time 7. As part of future best practice, we are likely to see a blending of traditional and new approaches. We can expect greater integration between online and traditional activities, and a combination of channels being used to engage successfully with stakeholders. While online activities will increase in importance, face to face interaction will remain vital to forging the close relationships based on trust and respect required for success What will successful engagement look like in the future? As we have seen, on the surface, in many respects it will be similar to what it is today. But digging deeper, we uncover a number of implications related to engaging with non-traditional stakeholders that will require significant changes from communicators in approach, tools and techniques. Communicators who factor these implications into the development of their engagement blueprint, and then follow through with sustained programmes, can expect to be more successful at achieving their organisation s objectives, as well as to grow the influence of their function within their respective organisations BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

29 About the study Methodology The research was conducted by Brunswick Insight, the opinion research practice of Brunswick Group, a corporate communications consultancy. Brunswick Insight conducted an online survey of 130 European senior communications professionals between 30th August and 23rd October 2012 to understand their views and practices in the area of stakeholder engagement. Interviews were conducted online in English and respondents work in a wide range of industries and sectors in Europe. Survey participants were drawn from several sources, including our own and publicly available databases, as well as members of the European Association of Communications Directors. Most respondents were from companies, but a sizeable number of associations, government organisations, NGOs and other organisations also took part. Qualitative research in the form of 8 in-depth interviews with senior corporate, association and NGO communicators preceded the quantitative phase and was used to design the survey instrument. Note: Percentages may not total 100%, due to rounding or multiple responses. BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

30 Demographics Type of company Listed company Private company Industry association or trade body Governmental organisation Non-profit organisation 14% 6% 5% 3% 69% Job title Head of Communications Director of Communications Public Affairs Director Communications Manager 18% 17% 12% 11% Other Years in role Less than years 3% 15% 39% Global Communications Director Head/ Director/ Manager of IR Communications Director 8% 6% 5% 4 5 years 6 10 years years years 22% 19% 4% 2% Head of Public Relations Other Participant sector 3% 20% Gender Finance 12% Male 55% Healthcare 10% Female Country United Kingdom 45% 49% Industrial Goods Professional & Support Services 10% 9% Brussels/Belgium 15% Telecoms & Technology 9% Germany France Italy 11% 3% 2% Food and Beverage Energy & Resources 8% 8% Austria 2% Consumer Goods 5% Luxembourg 2% Transport & Logistics 4% Netherlands Sweden 2% 2% Construction & Building Materials 3% Other 13% Other 22% BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

31 About Brunswick Insight Brunswick Insight operates globally with colleagues located in the Americas, Asia and Europe. We specialise in assessing global business issues and corporate reputation. Brunswick Insight uses a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to help companies and organisations inform and measure their communications and policy strategies. We work across a broad spectrum of sectors, geographies, languages and mandates and offer a wide range of services, from stakeholder and issue mapping through to opinion polling and focus groups. If you have questions or would like more information about the research please contact Phil Riggins at Brunswick Insight on or at BRUNSWICK INSIGHT

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