In our world of communications, PR and marketing, the role of stakeholders cannot be overstated. These are the individuals and groups who have a vested interest in the success of our campaigns. They could be anyone from senior management and investors to customers and the media. However, managing these stakeholders requires finesse, and, at times, a bit of improvisation.

At the start of a campaign, we may encounter stakeholders who micromanage, questioning every decision and demanding regular updates. This can be challenging, but it also presents an opportunity. By demonstrating our competence, reliability, and commitment to the campaign’s success, we can turn these micromanagers into champions. Champions who not only support us but also advocate for us and our campaign.

The end of a campaign is when we showcase the results of our efforts. More importantly, it is when we test the strength of our relationships and level of trust we have built with our stakeholders throughout the campaign.

The test of trust. 

Trust is not built overnight. It is cultivated over time through consistent actions and demonstrated commitment.

The end of a campaign brings with it a significant challenge, referred to as the ‘Test of Trust’. This test is not about the campaign’s success or failure in terms of its objectives. Instead, it focuses on the promises and commitments made before the campaign began.

Throughout the campaign, we make numerous commitments to our stakeholders. These could range from achieving certain targets, implementing specific strategies, or delivering particular results. These promises form the basis of the stakeholders’ expectations and are the standards against which the campaign’s success is measured.

However, these promises are not just about the tangible outcomes. They also involve softer aspects such as maintaining open lines of communication, managing expectations, and showing respect for the stakeholders’ inputs and suggestions.

Stakeholders, having invested their time, resources, and faith in the campaign, are keen to see if their trust was well-placed. They want to know whether you have kept your word. They are interested in seeing the progress made, the outcomes delivered, and most importantly, whether their support has been acknowledged and appreciated.

The end of a campaign is the moment of truth. It’s when we demonstrate to our stakeholders that we are true to our word. That we can be trusted to deliver on our promises. 

They want to see the progress that has been made – how far the campaign has come from where it started. They are interested in the outcomes – whether the targets have been met, whether the strategies have been successful, and whether the results have been achieved.

But beyond the progress and outcomes, stakeholders also want to feel appreciated. They want to know that their support has made a difference, that it has been acknowledged, and that it is valued. This appreciation, when expressed genuinely, can strengthen the relationship with the stakeholders and pave the way for their continued support in future campaigns.

strtgcommsgrp - demonstrate that you value the relationship with stakeholders

Building trust for future campaigns

Whether we’ve achieved all our campaign objectives or only some, the way we handle our stakeholders’ post-campaign can significantly impact their trust in us and their willingness to support future campaigns.

However, it is not about the campaign’s outcomes – which can be very important for the business but separate from stakeholder relations – or whether all or just a few were successfully achieved. 

Rather, it’s about the way these results are communicated to your stakeholders.

The trust you earn from your stakeholders is not solely dependent on the success of the campaign. It is about being transparent about the results, acknowledging the efforts of all involved, and showing gratitude for the support received. It’s about demonstrating that you value the relationship with your stakeholders as much as the success of the campaign.

Every campaign provides invaluable lessons that can be harnessed to strengthen future endeavours. The end of a campaign is not a full stop, but a comma, a pause before the next sentence begins. It’s a time to reflect, learn, and plan for the future.

Sidebar: The power of promises: Understanding the psychology of commitment

The act of making and keeping promises is a fundamental aspect of human relationships, including those between campaign managers and stakeholders. 

It is a topic that has been extensively studied in the field of psychology, with research highlighting the importance of consistency and reliability in building trust.

When we make a promise, we are essentially making a commitment to act in a certain way in the future. This commitment is not taken lightly by those to whom it is made. Stakeholders place a great deal of importance on the promises made to them. They view these promises as a measure of a campaign manager’s integrity and reliability. A study by Schweitzer, Hershey, and Bradlow found that individuals who kept their promises were rated as more trustworthy than those who did not.

Research in psychology has shown that when we honour our commitments, we are seen as more trustworthy and dependable. A study by Rotter found that reliability, or the consistent fulfilment of promises, was a key factor in the development of trust.

Being upfront, transparent, and honest about commitments made to stakeholders is not just about keeping promises. It’s about managing expectations, building trust, and fostering strong, healthy relationships. It’s about showing stakeholders that they can count on you, not just to deliver results, but to act with integrity and honesty.

strtgcommsgrp - 3 approaches for your stakeholder relationship toolkit

Engaging stakeholders for future success

The conclusion of a campaign is not the end, but rather a significant milestone in the ongoing relationship with your stakeholders. 

How you approach them post-campaign can significantly influence their perception of the campaign and their willingness to support future initiatives. 

Here are three strategic approaches to add to your relationship toolkit: 

  1. Transparency is a foundational component of trust: Transparency is key in any relationship, and it’s no different with stakeholders. Sharing the results openly, both the successes and the areas where you fell short, shows that you value honesty and are not afraid to admit when things didn’t go as planned. This openness is appreciated and respected by stakeholders, as it fosters trust and understanding.
  2. Appreciation helps you build more positive relationships: Acknowledging the support of your stakeholders and expressing gratitude is crucial in building a positive relationship. It shows that you value their contribution and recognise the role they played in the campaign. This appreciation encourages future collaboration and strengthens the bond with your stakeholders.
  3. Learning can pave the way for future success: Every campaign provides opportunities for learning. Showing your stakeholders how you have learned from the experience, what changes you plan to make in the future, and how their support has contributed to these insights, demonstrates your commitment to continuous improvement. It shows that you view every campaign as a stepping stone towards greater success.

Building deeper relationships with stakeholders post-campaign is about more than just delivering results. It’s about building trust, honouring commitments, and setting the stage for future collaborations. 

This path is about the journey, and lesser so the destination. 


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