LITERATURE (‘adaptive’ strategy). It also focuses on relationships,

LITERATURE REVIEW 2.0INTRODUCTIONThissection will review the literature oncorporate communication strategies, it will also look at the meaning ofstakeholders, principles of stakeholder engagement and steps in stakeholderengagement finally, it will look and theories and how the theories explain thestudy.  2.

1 CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONSTRATEGIESAsexplained by Bahtiar et al (2008), corporate communication strategy can be seenas the functional strategy which provides the focus and direction for an organization’scommunication with its stakeholders. Corporate communication entails decidingthe communication that should be done to assist in achieving organizationalgoals, therefore corporate communication strategy is the approach that directsthe function of corporate communication and provides an indication of itspositioning for the future. It is the mechanism that leads this functiontowards effectiveness rather than towards efficiency. Itshould be noted that the corporate communication strategies should be developedwithin the context of the organization’s mission and vision, goals andobjectives, corporate culture and policies. It produces a profile that can be usedto determine which stakeholders of an organization should get more or lessattention. Corporate communication strategy is a proactive capability to adaptthe organization to changes in the expectations and opinions of their stakeholders.

It can create a competitive advantage for an organization through the earlydetection and management of issues, involving strategic stakeholders in decisionmaking – giving the organization the autonomy to concentrate on achieving itsmission. Corporatecommunication strategy follows the more modern approaches to strategy, e.g.adapting the organization to trends, events, and stakeholders in the environment(‘adaptive’ strategy). It also focuses on relationships, symbolic actions andcommunication, emphasizing attitudinal and cognitive complexity among diverse stakeholders,which is the essence of ‘interpretive’ strategy. Taking this approach to strategyis easily explained when considering that the task of corporate communication is,by definition, ‘building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders/publics. Thecorporate communication strategy serves as a link between the function ofcorporate communications and the business.

Although the corporate communicationstrategy is influenced mostly by the organization’s enterprise strategy and providesstrategic inputs in the enterprise strategy, it also supports the corporate andbusiness strategies.Theprocess of developing a corporate communication strategy provides the strategicapproach required by organizations to identify issues and stakeholders proactively, and to manage communication withtheir strategic stakeholders.. 2.2 STAKEHOLDERSAstakeholder is any individual or group that either positively or negatively,impacts or is impacted by the decisions and actions of an organization. It canalso be referred to any individual or group who has a vested interest in theoutcome of an organization’s actions. Stakeholders are classified based on theextent to which the decisions of the company affect them. We have those who aredirectly affected by the decisions of the company; and there are those who arenot directly impacted by the decision of the company.

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Examplesof direct stakeholders include: Employees, Creditors, Contractors, Investors,Owners, Customers, Clients, Consumers, Shareholders, Vendors, Distributors,SuppliersWhileexample of indirect stakeholders include: Government, Unions, Community,Cooperatives, Industry Associations, Media, Trade Associations, Competitors), Civil Society, NGOs, AcademicInstitutions.Stakeholdersare also classified as internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are the individual or bodies within a business(e.g., employees, managers, the board of directors, investors) while External stakeholders areentities are not within the business but care about or are affected by itsperformance (e.g., consumers, suppliers).

 2.3 STEPS IN ENGAGING WITHSTAKEHOLDERSFollowing(AccountAbility, 2011) model the steps involved in engaging with stakeholdersare:Identify Stakeholders and Key Issues Profilestakeholders to recognize their interests, knowledge, and capacity to engage; Categorizeor map stakeholders based on their influence in the organization. These are: noinfluence, low influence, some influence or high influence. Other dimensionsthat can be used to map stakeholders include: dependence on the organization,proximity etc. This can be accomplished through rating scales or other methodsappropriate for the company and context.

It is important to prioritize theissues and stakeholders that are most important to the business. Identify whoare the legitimate and accountable representatives of each stakeholder. Establish Objectives and ProcessDecideon the scope of the process; frequency, level of engagement, channel andmethod. Set strategic goals and agree on expectations.

Determine the bestpossible methods to achieve the set objectives and how outcomes can bemeasured. Identify all requirements for disclosure and engagement which may beregulatory or financial. Assign the people or group responsible for the processand carrying out the different components of the plan.Determinethe available resources required for engagement and identify training needs inorder to achieve effective stakeholder engagement. This may include knowledgesharing on the process and issues, supporting development of specific skills,or increasing resources, time or access to information. Establish a method fordocumenting progress and outcomes.

Implement PlanManagersmake sure that the process moves forward as planned, gather data, and coordinatewith any third parties that are involved; Embed commitment to engagement acrossall levels of company corporate and operating areas; Communicate progress toall stakeholders on a frequent and transparent basis; Enact written grievancemechanisms to allow stakeholders a chance to provide feedback during theprocess. Review and ReportKeeptrack of how outcomes correspond with original objectives. Use findings andfeedback to revise the plan as needed and capture key learning’s that can be appliedin future stakeholder engagement initiatives. Provide regular and transparentinformation to stakeholders about the results of the engagement.   Principlesfor Successful EngagementEngagewith stakeholders early and often: Proactive, transparentcommunication with stakeholders helps to build trust and shows that the companyis committed to engagement. It is important to remain in communication with keystakeholders even when there is not a pressing need as this can pave the wayfor more effective problem solving when an issue does arise.Makeit easy for stakeholders to understand: Ensure that the format(language, technology, medium, etc.) of engagement is understood by andaccessible to stakeholders.

Takea long-term approach to engagement: Cultivating a long-termrelationship with stakeholders can improve operational stability andsustainability.Remainthoughtful and sincere: Listening is important. Successfulengagement can enhance a company’s reputation and brand, and stakeholders willbe more willing to participate if they feel they are being heard.Mutuallydefine expectations: Establishing goals and a feasibleengagement plan increase ownership and accountability. These should still beflexible enough to accommodate different interests that arise.Tailorengagement to the context: Different stakeholders willrequire different levels of engagement depending on the company or projecttype, stage, size, and many other factors. What is important is the quality andlegitimacy of stakeholder engagement.Sensitivityto stakeholder dynamics: Culture, gender, and politicalbalance can be important to different stakeholder groups.

Make an effort tounderstand these and ensure that the company is interacting with a person orgroup that is viewed as a legitimate authority by the stakeholders it is tryingto engage.Recognizechallenges: Engagement requires time and resources. It alsoraises stakeholder expectations and can lead to disappointment if their viewsare not adequately incorporated into decision-making.

   2.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK2.4.1 AGENDA SETTING THEORYThetheory was set by McCombs and Shaw (1972), the theory highlights the importanceof the media in shaping how people think and how to think about issues. Themedia not only tell people what to think about in broad terms, but additionallyhow to think about specific items, and then what to think.  In other words, media shape top-of-mindpresence regarding issues. Newspapersprovide a host of cues about the salience of the topics in the daily news –lead story on page one, other front page display, large headlines, etc.

Television news also offers numerous cues about salience – the opening story onthe newscast, length of time devoted to the story, etc. These cues repeated dayafter day effectively communicate the importance of each topic. In other words,the news media can set the agenda for the public’s attention to that smallgroup of issues around which public opinion forms.Thistheory aligns with corporate communications in that companies use the media asa strategy to change the mind of their stakeholders and the general public.With the media, companies publish what they want their stakeholders to believe,they shape the mind of their stakeholders with the media and they use the mediato align the mind of their stakeholders to what they want their stakeholders tobelieve.  2.4.

2DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS THEORYDiffusionis the “process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channelsover a period of time among the members of a social system”. An innovation is”an idea, practice, or object that is perceived to be new by an individual orother unit of adoption”. “Communication is a process in which participantscreate and share information with one another to reach a mutual understanding”(Rogers, 1971). It is a theory that seeks to explain how,why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Rogers argues thatdiffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time amongthe participants in a social system. For Rogers (2003), adoption is a decisionof “full use of an innovation as the best course of action available” andrejection is a decision “not to adopt an innovation”.  Diffusion research has focused on five areas:(1) the characteristics of an innovation which may influence its adoption; (2)the decision-making process that occurs when individuals consider adopting anew idea, product or practice; (3) the characteristics of individuals that makethem likely to adopt an innovation; (4) the consequences for individuals andsociety of adopting an innovation; and (5) communication channels used in theadoption process.

  Rogers proposes that four main elementsinfluence the spread of a new idea: the innovation itself, communicationchannels, time, and a social system. This process relies heavily on humancapital. The innovation must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain. Withinthe rate of adoption, there is a point at which an innovation reaches criticalmass. The information flows through networks.

The nature of networks and theroles opinion leaders play in them determine the likelihood that the innovationwill be adopted. Thistheory is relevant to this study in that it shows how information iscommunicated and adopted by audiences over time. When companies send outinformation, the information goes through different stages, before it is adopted.Those who adopt it on time are called early adopters, those who do not adopt iton time are called late adopters while those who do not believe the informationor find it hard to reconcile with the information and what they see are calledlaggards. The theory also shows that the most effective way of getting peopleto adopt information or an idea is to use word of mouth or personal referrals.People tend to believe their colleagues and friends; in other words informationand ideas are adopted faster when it is done through word of mouth andreferrals. Companies seeking to engage stakeholders should understand howinformation and ideas are adopted among group of people.

 2.4.3 GATEKEEPING THEORY Lewin (1947) coinedthe word called “Gate keeping”; it means to block unwanted or useless things byusing a gate. Here the person who makes the decision is called “Gatekeeper”.

The Gatekeeper decides what information should move to group or individual andwhat information should not. Here, the gatekeeper are the decision makers wholetting the whole social system. The gatekeeper is influenced by such things associal, cultural, ethical and political in deciding which information to letthrough.

Through gatekeeping the unwanted, insensible and controversial information’sare removed by the gate keeper which helps to control the society or a groupand letting them in a right path.Likea news editor who decides which news to publish or a pastor who decides whichmessage to preach or a teacher who decides what to teach and what to omit.Companies also use gatekeeping theory to decide which information to pass totheir stakeholders.

Some information are hidden while some are shared.   GatekeepingModel (adopted from  2.5 EMPIRICAL FRAMEWORKArgenti(2002) in his study on crisis communication lesson from 9/11 published inHarvard Business review he gave insights into working with employees duringcrises.

The information were derived from interviews with managers on theirresponses to the 9/11 tragedies. In another study Arpan & Rosokos –Ewoldsen(2005) in their study stealing thunder an analysis of the effects of positive disclosureof crisis information they showed in their study an experiment that studied theidea of stealing. Stealing thunder was defined as when an organization releasesinformation about a crises before the news media or others release theinformation. The result found that stealing thunder results in highercredibility ratings for a company than allowing others to report the crisisinformation first.

They gave additional evidence to support the notion of beingquick in a crisis and telling the organization’s side of the story. Barton (2001).In his article gave insights into crises management, he showed role of communicationand public relations/affairs in the crises management process and the need tospeak with one voice. The article provided information on crises managementprocess and the need to speak with one voice. Garney& Jorden (1993). Their article emphasized the need for a message strategyduring crisis communication. They insisted that developing and sharing astrategy helps an organization to speak with one voice during crises.

Ina further study by Coombs (2004) Impact of past crises on current crisescommunication: insights from situational crises communication theory publishedby Journal of Business communication. He showed that past crises intensifiesthe reputational threat to a current crisis. Since the news media remindspeople of past crises, it is common for organizations in crises to face pastcrises as well. He counseled that crises managers should adjust theirreputational repair strategies, If there were past crises, crises managerswould need to use more accommodative strategies than they normally would.Accidents are a good example. Past accidents indicate a pattern of problems sopeople will view the organization as much more responsible for the crises thatif the accident were isolated. Greater responsibility means crises is more of athreat for the reputation and the organization must focus the response more onaddressing victim concernsInCoombs (2004b).

he showed in his study a case analysis of the westpharmaceutical 2003 explosion at its Kinston, NC facility. The study showed thecase documents the extensive use of the internet to keep employees and otherstakeholders informed and also developed a list of crisis communicationstandards. The crises communication standards offered suggestions for howcrises managers can match their crises response to the nature of the crisessituation.Coombs& Holladay (2006). In his examined when a favorable pre-crises reputation canprotect an organization with a halo effect. The halo effect says that strongpositive feelings will allow people to overlook a negative event; it can shieldan organization from reputational damage during crises.

The study found thatonly in a very specific situation does halo effect occur. In most crises, thereputation is damaged suggesting reputational capital is a better way to view astrong positive pre-crisis reputation. According to the study an organizationaccumulates reputational capital by positively engaging publics. A crisiscauses an organization to loss some reputational capital. The more pre-crisesreputational capital, the stronger the reputation will be after the crises andthe easier it should be to repair.Inanother study by Downing (2003) On American airlines use of mediated employeechannel after the 9/11 attacks published by Public relations review, the studyshowed how American airlines used its intranet, websites and reservation systemto keep employees informed after 9/11.

The article also commented on the use ofemployee assistance programs after a traumatic event. Recommendations includedusing all available channels to inform employees during and after a crises aswell as recommending organizations ‘gray out’ colour from their websites toreflect the somber nature of the situation.Ina study by Sturges (1994) Communicating through crises: a strategy fororganizational survival, published by management communication. The articleemphasized how communication needs shift during crises. The first need is forinstructing information, the information that tells people how to protectthemselves physically from crises. The next need is adjusting information, theinformation that helps people to cope psychologically with the crises. Theinitial crises response demands a focus on instructing and adjustinginformation.

The third and final type of communication is reputation repair.Reputation repair is only used once the instructing and adjusting informationhave been provided.InTaylor & Kent (2007)  Their articlesummarized the best practices for using the internet during a crises andadvocates more organizations should be using the internet especially websitesduring a crises. The six best practices they cited  are: (1) include all your tradition mediarelations materials on your website; (2) try to make use of the interactivenature of the internet for your crises web content; (3) provide detailed andclear information on websites during a product recall; (4) tell your side ofthe story on the crises website including quotations for managers; (5) whennecessary, create different webpages for different stakeholders tailored to theirinterest in the crises and (6) work with government agencies includinghyperlinks to relevant government agency websites.

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