Paddy Hintz, Senior Consultant
For news tragics, the weeks before the invasion of Ukraine was historic for more than the obvious reasons. It was during this period that US Intelligence sources openly provided news outlets with their expectations regarding Russian troop movements, the expected date of any border crossing and, ultimately, the Kremlin’s intentions.
As a stakeholder engagement strategy supported by PR, it was a highly risky move given the obvious threat to the lives of those providing the information. At this stage, it also appears to have been a bold and effective move, given the West’s subsequent rapid and aligned response to the invasion.
Using public relations strategies in any stakeholder engagement process always needs to be carefully considered. On this occasion, the risk/reward ratio considered by US Intelligence may well have come down to balancing the loss of hard-won intelligence sources against the potential loss of thousands, tens of thousands if not millions of lives.
When it comes to stakeholder engagement conducted by businesses, peak bodies, and not-for-profits, it’s important to think carefully about the impact of any intended PR campaign on those you want to work closely and cement relationships with.
Do you need to be the first to tell the story? Or would it be better for others to champion your cause publicly? Will a little nudge through a well-selected case study in the media help everyone envision the benefits? If so, when is the best time to do this?
Timing of PR to support stakeholder engagement is important. You don’t want your stakeholders to feel they are receiving secondhand news. Similarly, well-planned media stories can help raise your credibility as an individual and an organisation on the topic of your choice.
As with all PR, relevance to the news cycle will win you media centimeters or minutes while also demonstrating relevance and positioning to your stakeholders.
This is the true art of public affairs. And it requires professionals who are used to working together to ensure that PR and stakeholder engagement strategies work in harmony, who understand your strategic goals as well as the media cycle.
To discuss an integrated public affairs and strategic engagement campaign for your organisation, contact the SAS Group.