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1 stakeholder communications t h e t o o l k i t

2 Stakeholder engagement plans cannot work without stakeholder communications. Every time you engage or communicate with stakeholders, there are implications for investor perception and share price so being prepared is crucial. Effective often involves reaching a wide range of stakeholders. This involves disseminating the right messages and addressing the right issues for the best results. There are three principles I find most helpful when communicating keep it simple, clear and timely Chng Lay Chew CFO, Singapore Exchange Some basic questions a CFO should consider in developing a stakeholder communications plan include: Why what are our key objectives in communicating? Who who are our stakeholders and influencers? Who do we need to persuade? What what do we plan to do to achieve our objectives? Where which platforms and channels are available to us?

3 getting it right Who are a CFO s major stakeholders? According to Arthur Lang, Group CFO of property developer CapitaLand, stakeholders are anyone who takes an interest in the long-term well-being, sustainability and success of the company. An effective approach to will often form part of a broader stakeholder engagement process. A typical stakeholder engagement process involves three stages: The Stakeholder Engagement Process Source: KPMG Singapore Monitoring and measuring your stakeholder engagement process Identifying your stakeholders and relative levels of influence Assessing your success in meeting your objectives Tweaking your plan to improve engagement MEASURING RESPONDING & THINKING & PLANNING Identifying your messages and any material issues to be addressed Defining the scope and planning your engagement Stating your objectives for PR EPARIN G & ENGAGING Defining actionable stakeholder engagement and communication plans Building or strengthening capabilities and feedback mechanism Putting your plan into action getting it right framework checklist process

4 Before planning your communications, start by understanding the current perceptions of stakeholders and assessing current communications methods. You would also need to understand the strengths and limitations of existing communications infrastructure before making and executing your plans.

5 framework A Stakeholder Communications Framework can help you think through how to approach your organisation s needs. The Stakeholder Communications Framework Source: KPMG Singapore Objectives Identifying and engaging your stakeholders Generating trust Protecting and enhancing your corporate reputation Managing the media agenda Developing an open and transparent culture Enabling consistent messaging Channels Identification of channels and vehicles to reach defined audiences Understanding the operating context and planning the outreach Socialising outcomes with key stakeholders why where ABOUT THE ORGANISATION who what Stakeholders Identifying and segmenting your stakeholders Understanding your stakeholder operating environment Analysing and understanding your stakeholders Identifying priorities for your stakeholder engagement Plan Conceptualising your engagement plan Planning your communications strategy Defining the key components of your communications plan Planning your key messages Planning your outreach Timing the communications Planning your communications channels Planning your communications method getting it right framework checklist process

6 Authenticity and fluency must be the underlying philosophy to your communications. Authenticity is a sense of realness. As a CFO, this means conveying your company s financial story and situation in an honest and transparent manner, based on facts and data. Attempts at exaggerating or distorting the real story will often backfire after the truth is uncovered. Fluency refers to the fact that your company s key storytellers, its various spokespeople must be conversant with the facts and positions your company has taken.

7 checklist In telling your company s financial story, you must also align your key messages with your company s mission, vision and core strategy. Answering this checklist can be helpful. The Stakeholder communications checklist Source: KPMG Singapore Before developing your framework and its process, you should fully understand your organisation. Ask these questions: What do we do? How and where do we operate? What is our mission and vision for the future? What is our business model? What is our business strategy? What is the governance structure? What are our core values? How do we stand in terms of Corporate Responsibility? What are the sustainability and environmental policies? What are some of our recent achievements and issues faced? getting it right framework checklist process

8 A full understanding of your organisation is key to developing your framework.

9 process Feedback loop - course correction Stakeholder analysis: Understanding your stakeholder groups better. Communications assessment: Understanding your current positions and identifying your audiences and influencers. Communications planning: Specifying the communications objectives, planning strategy and developing messages as well as risk mitigation options. Stakeholder monitoring and feedback: Assessing the effectiveness of your communications. Are we getting our message across? I. Stakeholder analysis Analysing your stakeholders positions and how they are reached should be undertaken early in your communications programme and updated regularly. This involves methodically mapping your key influencers and stakeholder groups and assessing their positions on issues which affect the reputation of your company. Both internal and external stakeholder groups are important. Ensure that external positions are congruent with your internal positions. Internal stakeholders Internal stakeholders often include the Board of Directors, senior management and employees. Ideally, your internal stakeholders should have agreed on all key positions before the implementation of any plans. In extremely large or diverse companies, developing a parallel Leadership Action Plan can be useful. This plan involves mapping, then forging a common position with key dissenting internal stakeholders. getting it right framework checklist process

10 External stakeholders External stakeholders can be broadly categorised into primary and secondary stakeholders. Primary stakeholders have an impact on the success of your communications plans. These include both institutional and retail investors, banks, customers, regulators, analysts and the media. As a CFO, your primary external stakeholders require information concerning your company s financial performance. Secondary stakeholders are individuals or organisations only indirectly affected. These include non-government organisations and advocacy groups, company alumni, vendors and customers. They generally require less sensitive information such as how the company intends to operate within society. II. Communications assessment Assess the current state of your communications. Steps involved include: 1) Understanding the environment and culture of your industry and stakeholders and the effectiveness of current communications initiatives. 2) Taking stock of your corporate culture, and whether your management and staff are walking the talk in relation to your company s espoused mission, values and goals. It also helps to identify potential risks to your corporate reputation. 3) Assessing current communications channels and seeking feedback from your stakeholders if existing communications methods are useful for converying information about your organisation. III. Communications planning Next, work out your communications goals and messages. These messages should

11 also be aligned with your company s core strategy and your financial story. Develop simple, direct key messages that: Communicate need-to-know rather than nice-to-know information Map how each message and communication objective is relevant to each stakeholder group Consider what sort of stakeholder response you want to trigger Plan a communications strategy clearly, describing plans to support the key messages. In a nutshell, lay out the why and how you plan to influence each stakeholder group by considering: Who are the stakeholders you plan to communicate with and the outcomes you seek What are the touch-points you should leverage to communicate Who are the influencers in this process and the roles of your spokespeople What information will be communicated and its timing Next, plan the tactics and activities you plan to undertake and what channels you will use to deliver your messages. Where possible, think beyond broadcasting to how to engage your audience. The leanest options to the most media-rich are: Print communications are useful for delivering consistent information to a wide audience and in supporting faceto-face communications. Examples include newsletters, briefing packs, brochures and reports. Web and online communications was listed in our study as an increasingly preferred way to share information. They can be useful for distributing immediate and personable messages but may lack suitable response mechanisms. Examples include s, internet websites and online forums.

12 Social media and audio-visual communications are useful for broadcasting a message to stakeholders across locations and time zones. They can also promote stakeholder engagement. Examples include webinars, blogs and social media channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Face-to-face communication is useful in strengthening relationships, gathering and exchanging information or solving problems. Examples include presentations, road shows, briefings, seminars and meetings. IV. Stakeholder monitoring and feedback Monitoring how perceptions among stakeholders are changing can determine the effectiveness of your communications initiatives. It will allow you to: Learn about evolving stakeholder expectations Adjust your stakeholder management and engagement plans as perceptions change Identify potential issues earlier Escalate issues for pre-emptive action. While planning your communications, it is also useful to consider what feedback channels you plan to have in place. Your stakeholders may use these channels to provide feedback, seek clarification, provide reactions or ask for more information. Make sure that your feedback channels are easy to access, facilitate a timely response, and are confidential and anonymous when appropriate. Many companies are already also using Facebook, Twitter and other online forums as platforms for clients and other stakeholders to interact with them. A point that cannot be over-emphasised is that you should anticipate and plan for problems. Identify several possible crisis scenarios and develop a crisis management plan to manage communications with stakeholders in these unexpected situations.

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