Person writing a plan while sitting at a round table with a notepad, laptop, and coffee.
Advanced stakeholder management
Mastering Your Stakeholder Engagement Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Need to plan a stakeholder engagement for an upcoming project? The success of your project will...

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Advanced stakeholder management
Using a Stakeholder Matrix: 3 Practical Examples

Planning a project or stakeholder engagement and need to analyze or visualize your stakeholders quickly?  One...

Executive team collaborating on stakeholder strategy.
Advanced stakeholder management
Stakeholder Strategy: How to Set Up and Manage Your Plan

Need to create or update your stakeholder strategy? Or curious about how you could take a...

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Advanced stakeholder management
How to Conduct a Stakeholder Assessment

What is a stakeholder assessment and when should you undergo one? And what’s the best process...

It’s undeniable that there’s a lot of crossover between stakeholder relations and public relations. Professionals working in either field share many of the same goals and processes. But what are the differences? And if you had to pick, which practice should you focus on? Let’s take a look at the facts, the history, and the relevance of both stakeholder and public relations today. Stakeholder Relations vs Public Relations: Similarities and Differences Stakeholder relations involves managing the interests, expectations, needs, and responsibilities between the organization and its stakeholders. This often includes stakeholder identification and analysis, stakeholder planning, relationship building, collaboration, communication, conflict resolution, governance, public participation, and reporting. Learn more about stakeholder management, stakeholder engagement, the importance of stakeholders, stakeholder plans, and stakeholder analysis. Public relations involves strategically communicating in order to build beneficial relationships between an organization and its public. This often includes reputation management, strategic communications, media relations, crisis handling, and communication management. The above definitions might sound quite similar, but in reality, there are some key similarities and differences between the two: Similarities Differences Both place importance on relationship management Both are involved in communicating between an organization and key people groups Both aim to build trust and goodwill Both are concerned with how the organization is perceived (though PR more so than stakeholder relations) Both use similar communication methods, such as events, social media, and press releases Both require excellent communication, relationship-building, and interpersonal skills PR mainly focuses on the general public, while stakeholder relations can focus on a range of stakeholders (which may include the public, as well as other stakeholders) Stakeholder communication is more likely to be direct and targeted to specific groups or individuals, while public relations communicates in a less targeted or direct way (such as via influencers or the media) Public relations typically aims to influence the general public in a broad way, while stakeholder relations is more often concentrated on the groups impacted by or influencing the project or organization A Brief History Lesson Image: Alt text: A timeline showing key events in the history of public relations and stakeholder relations. “If you want to understand today you have to search yesterday.” – Pearl S. Buck, American novelist To properly answer the question of whether stakeholder relations is the new public relations, we have to go back a bit to where each practice began, and see how they have evolved over the years. Modern public relations originated in the late 1800s, when people known as publicity agents would use the news media to promote sports stars, politicians, and circus stars — in an attempt to shape their public image. Similarly, organizations began more actively managing their relationships with customers, employees, or communities. The practice of PR really took off following World War 1, with organizations and governments keen to influence public sentiment and policymaking. Throughout the next few decades, PR became more widespread via trade associations and university programs — and the growth in mass media increased the potential impact of public relations activities. The practice further evolved at the turn of the century, with the rise of new media technologies, especially social media. And today, public relations remains a powerful force in media and oganizations around the world. Stakeholder relations is a much newer concept than PR, though there’s some disagreement on exactly when it started. In the 1960s and 70s, businesses began thinking about how they might be responsible for more stakeholder groups beyond just their shareholders. People began to talk about internal and external groups, such as customers, suppliers, employees, and communities — and how a business might also meet their interests and expectations. Organizational approaches to stakeholder relations evolved in the 1990s and 2000s, with more focus placed on environmental and ethical issues, and an increasingly global outlook. Companies were increasingly expected to take responsibility for their impact on stakeholders, including partners, regulators, and workers. The rise in new media (especially social media) also impacted stakeholder relations, with a broader range of stakeholders having access to information and the ability to voice their opinions and be heard, and the public demanded greater transparency and accountability. At the same time, organizations realized the strategic benefits of open engagement and participation from stakeholders — and began to go beyond simply informing or managing their stakeholders. Stakeholder theory is continuing to evolve and increase in popularity among a broader range of organizations, but the practice of stakeholder management and engagement is now well established. Is Stakeholder Relations the New Public Relations? Image: Alt text: Five coworkers seen working together to represent collaboration on stakeholder relations and public relations. Although stakeholder relations emerged much later than public relations, and has potentially borrowed a few ideas from PR, the two approaches remain separate and worthwhile disciplines on their own. Public relations remains focused on the public’s broader perceptions of the company, and a lot of their impact and reach comes via relationships and communication with the media. But stakeholder relations involves managing or engaging with a range of stakeholder groups that have an interest in, an influence on, or are impacted by the organization or project. It’s broader than public relations, and its goals are typically focused on facilitating a successful project via more complete knowledge, better communication, participation/engagement, and solutions that meet the needs of more stakeholders. That said, both of these functions can work well together because there’s plenty of overlap between stakeholder relations and public relations. Stakeholder Relations & Public Relations: Towards a Collaborative Approach So, what does this mean for your organization? If you already have access to both PR and stakeholder relations professionals (whether in-house or contractors), it’s time to encourage greater collaboration and sharing between these teams. Both groups should coordinate communications/messaging, share contacts, collaborate on campaigns, and share ideas. Stakeholder professionals will likely have valuable insights that could help shape an organization’s PR strategy — and public relations professionals could support the stakeholder team with timely and relevant media releases (that could help build brand visibility and rapport with key stakeholders). A practical starting place would be to introduce regular meetings where both groups can share their goals, plans, and activities — and from there, begin to coordinate their work. Public relations professionals and stakeholder professionals alike will benefit from this, working more effectively and efficiently together. Or perhaps you currently lack a stakeholder relations team or approach. If you have been relying on public relations to carry out some stakeholder functions, it’s time to address this gap. Learn more about the basics of stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management — and start to plan how you might incorporate these skills and processes into your projects through hiring or upskilling. By the way, if you’re looking for powerful, user-friendly software to help support your stakeholder relations team or improve your stakeholder practices, check out Simply Stakeholders.
Advanced stakeholder management
Stakeholder Relations: The New Public Relations?

It’s undeniable that there’s a lot of crossover between stakeholder relations and public relations. Professionals working...

15 stakeholder diagrams to add to your toolkit, overlaid background previewing those diagrams.
Advanced stakeholder management
15 Stakeholder Diagrams To Add To Your Toolkit

Stakeholder diagrams, frameworks, and models can be useful tools for analyzing and grouping your stakeholders.  They...

Forming relationships with stakeholders — how the pros do it.
Advanced stakeholder management
Forming Relationships with Stakeholders: How the Pros Do It

So, you need to build relationships with your stakeholders and need a little guidance to get...

The Importance of Stakeholders in Business
Advanced stakeholder management
The Importance of Stakeholders in Business

Not sure whether stakeholders matter for your business or not?  First, a basic definition… In business,...

Speech bubble on background of suburban houses with text, ‘Public Consultation: Could it Help Solve the Housing Crisis?’.
Advanced stakeholder management
Could Public Consultation Help Solve the Housing Crisis?

One of the key issues facing many parts of the world in 2023 (and for the...

Advanced stakeholder management
How to Create a Business Relationship Management Strategy

Whether you’re a Business Relationship Manager or a leader in your organization looking to mature your...

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Advanced stakeholder management
Supplier Relationship Management: Strategies & Tools

It’s hard to think of a company that could truly produce and deliver goods and services...

Large numbers of people walking across a street crossing.
Advanced stakeholder management
Guide to Relationship Network Mapping

Most people have heard of the six degrees of separation theory. That is, that in a...

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Advanced stakeholder management
How to Build Strategic Relationships Inside (and Outside) Of Your Organization

For most corporate leaders, strategic relationship building is a key part of the role. The right...

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Advanced stakeholder management
How Renewable Energy Project Managers Can Engage Stakeholders

How can renewable energy project managers engage their stakeholders? We share 10 engagement methods and practical tips!

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Advanced stakeholder management
Business Relationship Management: Best Practices for Success

Learn how to better engage with your internal stakeholders with these five tips to manage your business relationships.

Illustration showing a person walking in front of three wind turbines.
Advanced stakeholder management
Who Are The Key Stakeholders in Renewable Energy Projects?

We share seven examples of stakeholders in renewable energy. Learn why you might need to manage each of these groups and how you might engage with them.

Advanced stakeholder management
What Is Social Acceptance and Does It Really Matter?

If you’re running a project or consultation, does social acceptance really matter?  The short answer is:...

Advanced stakeholder management
Corporate Governance: The Role Of Different Stakeholders

We look at 11 different types of stakeholders and their role in corporate governance, including the board of directors, shareholders, employees, and more

Advanced stakeholder management
How Does Civil Society Engage the Government?

We discuss civil society organizations and explore 10 ways these groups can engage with government and politics

Advanced stakeholder management
Four Key Stakeholder Management Processes for Project Managers

We share four key stakeholder management processes that project managers need to stay on top of.

Illustration showing a person with three different graphs, each representing stakeholder reports.
Advanced stakeholder management
Stakeholder Reporting Made Easy: 9 Practical Tips

Want to improve your stakeholder reports? We share why stakeholder reporting matters, what it’s used for, and 9 tips for better reports.

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Advanced stakeholder management
How to Encourage Community Group Engagement

Need to increase community engagement and demonstrate the value of your engagement? We share five practical steps you can take.

Orange painted brick wall with a barred window and blue painted lettering that says ‘Support Community
Advanced stakeholder management
Best Community Engagement Strategies in 2023

Updating your community engagement strategy in 2023? We share 8 important trends to watch so you can make sure your approach is effective and relevant.

A laptop sitting on a sofa, displaying five different graphs.
Advanced stakeholder management
How to Get More Value From Your Consultation Data

We talk about the importance of seeing stakeholder data as an asset — and some ways organizations can get more value from their engagement data.

A woman stands up to share a report with her team.
Advanced stakeholder management
Improving Stakeholder Engagement: How to Keep People Engaged

We explore reasons why stakeholders become disengaged and share tips to help increase stakeholder engagement — and keep people participating in your consultation.

Advanced stakeholder management
What is Education’s Impact on Civic and Social Engagement?

Curious about the impact of education on civic and social engagement? We make 8 observations based on what the research says about civic engagement and education.

Advanced stakeholder management
Managing Stakeholder Risk & Social Acceptance

We talk about an important side of stakeholder management: risk! Find out how to manage high risk stakeholders and increase your social acceptance with these tips.

Advanced stakeholder management
4 Examples of Stakeholder Engagement In Policy

We share examples of stakeholder consultation in successful policy making and development (and not-so-successful), including healthcare policy, public policy, environment, and more.

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