Stakeholder Importance in Crisis Communication
At some point any organization inevitably faces a situation that poses a threat to its reputation or its existence as such. Communication crises have become more frequent and more complicated along with the development of technology and the growth of society. Organizational crises have broad implications for a variety of stakeholders, that is why managing crises successfully is only possible addressing the issues from different perspectives, which is a fundamental task for a PR practitioner.
Designing and directing messages in a crisis require deep knowledge and accuracy on the part of an organization. Strategy choice largely depends on the type of a stakeholder, type of crisis, crisis severity and crisis damage, organization’s history and credibility. Management might view a stakeholder as minor or negligible one day; yet the same group may come decisive in a crisis. Mitchell, Agle and Wood  describe this phenomenon as stakeholder salience, noting that it is likely to shift over time.
A case of ineffective crisis communication with stakeholders happened when a Russian meat packing plant “Darina” was accused of using meat infected with anthrax in their production. Although the affected target audience included consumers of the product, the company’s partners, investors and employees, “Darina” only focused on communication with the federal services and the media. The company never made an apology to its clients (for misinformation that took place, and mere inconvenience), a strategic mistake that never allowed “Darina” to restore its reputation.
To manage crises successfully, organizations are obliged to examine the attributes of their stakeholders meticulously. While it is impossible to eliminate discomfort caused by crisis completely, proper crisis management creates an opportunity, often neglected by Russian PR practitioners , to gain public trust and strengthen an organization’s reputation.
1. Mitchell, R., Agle, B., & Wood, D. (1997). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts. Academy of Management Review, 22, 853-886.
2. Амирджанова, А. Ф. (2013). Связи с общественностью. Retrieved from http://free.megacampus.ru/xbookM0023/index.html