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The Communication Strategy Handbook

Toolkit for Creating a Winning Strategy

Betteke van Ruler and Frank Körver

Strategic development is one of the most daunting challenges that faces any professional, no matter the field. After all, stakes are high. Developing effective strategies can put you on the path to becoming a trusted advisor and a valued employee.

The Communication Strategy Framework introduced in this handbook has been designed to help professionals make targeted choices toward strategic communication. Taking an iterative approach and continually reflecting on whether your choices remain congruent enables you to continually adapt to changing circumstances while staying in command. Linear planning models are ineffective. Quick strategy development can revolutionize the communication function and strengthen the relationship amongst members of a professional team. Linking communication and business strategy is the number one challenge for today’s communication practitioners.

The Communication Strategy Framework facilitates the communication professional to forcefully and efficiently make the right choices. It compels individuals to think about how communication can contribute to achieving the organization's or client’s goals. As a result, it provides a clear picture of your communication strategy in one page by putting superfluous details aside and concentrating on the essentials.

The Communication Strategy Framework has proven to be an instant eye-opener. A best-seller amongst professionals in the Netherlands, it is available for the first time in English. This step-by-step guide to creating a winning communication strategy will help communicators of all types, from professionals and clients to students and teachers!

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Building block: Stakeholders

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BUILDING BLOCK STAKEHOLDERS

IN THE COMMUNICATION FIELD WE TALK A LOT ABOUT THE STAKEHOLDERS IN THE ORGANIZATION, BUT WE RARELY TALK ABOUT THE STAKEHOLDERS IN OUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, OR WE FOCUS SOLELY ON OUR TARGET AUDIENCE.

The American R. Edward Freeman (1984), who developed the stakeholder theory, was the first person to suggest that there are many other stakeholders besides financiers—that is, shareholders—who deserve consideration. He defined a stakeholder as any individual or group of individuals that can influence the enterprise or can be influenced by the enterprise and as such have a stake in the organization’s activities. Furthermore, Freeman proposed that stakeholders should be engaged in the creation of organizational policy. Others later detailed precisely who should be involved and how.

In the communication field we talk a lot about stakeholders—that is, the people who have a stake in our organization. Rarely, however, do we talk about the stakeholders in our communication strategy, even though there are quite a few people, groups, and organizations that are involved in one way or another in shaping and determining—and possibly hindering—a strategy’s success. Perhaps most obvious is the target audience or public; that is, the “users” of a communication intervention. But there are many others whose support you need to gain, or that you at the very least have to stay in touch with. Therefore, we distinguish between stakeholders who are enablers and those who are...

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