A lesson on engaging external stakeholders during a pandemic

One story that has always marked me and has remained relevant in a professional, social and personal setting is the Postman story of Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes. For all those who missed it, here is the small extract –

A young man wrote love letters to a lady every week to win her affection. As she was not responding, he increased the number and wrote a love letter every day. He continued to write throughout the year. However, she ended up marrying the postman. The essence of the story is that personal encounter is important in fostering any relationship. Drawing parallels in a professional setting, for external communication professionals, is a very relevant teaching.

However, while the story teaches companies / professionals in external engagement an important lesson, the pandemic may have changed the narrative a bit. It made me rethink and revisit the narrative. In the current scenario, personal encounters are neither highly encouraged nor highly valued. There could be lasting implications on how businesses / professionals connect and communicate with their external stakeholders. The post-COVID world is likely to bring new opportunities to connect with a wider range of a range of ways new relationships could be forged beyond physical distances and a consistent pace of engagement with strategy targeted could change relationships for good. Here are some ways that could help evolve external commitments:

Making meaningful connections – The pandemic has provided an opportunity for deeper and more meaningful connections with virtual engagements across physical borders with different stakeholder groups. Thought Leadership – The pandemic has created an atmosphere of uncertainty in nearly every industry. It is therefore likely that your stakeholders will highly appreciate the expertise on the current landscape and how it might evolve.

This gives businesses the opportunity to become a trusted source of expertise and provides content that adds tangible value from reports and expert opinions. Create Forums – Virtual forums have become a good tool for engagement. Create niche virtual forums that build on the area of ​​expertise and bring together people who could create meaningful dialogue. Stay Connected – A number of projects may be canceled due to the pandemic, strategies may change, however, stakeholders not relevant at the moment would still be relevant in the longer term.

The situation will be better, but if the connections are not maintained, reconnecting would be a difficult task. The pandemic may offer opportunities to forge real and meaningful relationships with stakeholders, but those who do not act to adjust their engagement strategies risk losing their network. Stakeholder engagement has changed dramatically in the past year and a half and will likely never revert to exact pre-COVID practices.

So, here, going back to the story of the Postman, the in-person meetings are hard to fully replicate, and the connections that come with it are invaluable. However, evolving engagement strategies suited to the current situation will not only help foster relationships, but also create a brand image and positioning as a thought leader while requiring less time and effort. silver. That being said, there is a need to focus on strategies to ensure that these engagements create the same level of impact as face-to-face meetings.

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Shirlene J. Manley