Know Your Stakeholders

Step 1: Identify and Analyse Relevant Stakeholders

There is no magic list of stakeholders. Stakeholders will change depending on the scale and scope of the planning document, objectives of participation, and as stakeholders themselves make decisions whether or not to participate and how to participate. Outreach and engagement methods to a great extent depend on the number and profile of perspective stakehoders. Even when addressing the general public (e.g., through PPGIS or phone questionnaires) you have to know your target audience and tailor the outreach channels and questions accordingly.

Brainstorm a preliminary list of stakeholders, including everyone who has interest in the planning case today and who may have one tomorrow. Where possible, identify individuals and obtain their contacts.

Use the following stakeholder groups to help you brainstorm:

For stakeholders’ groups, individuals and their contacts browse through the municipal records and social media accounts. Official proposals submitted by the residents in response to other planning documents, records from public hearings and workshops, comments to the municipal posts in the social media, all of them are the source of contact information.

If you are planning an area or the upgrades for the service, make observations who and how uses the area / service, interview active users, ask them for their contact information and the information about other potential informants. You can, also, use outreach techniques, such as advertisement in the media, inviting the stakeholders to express their interest in participation.

Identify stakeholder roles in the engagement process. Do they act as residents or users of the area in focus? Do they represent any interest groups, professional organisations or state and municipal agencies? Beware of the “double” roles. For example a person, who is simultaneously a resident of the area and a representative of the municipal agency. An affiliation with a certain organisation may prevent these persons from expressing his or her civic position openly in public. Furthermore, these persons may behave differently or express different opinions depending on the role thay are acting in.

Think of the possible power inequalities, i.e. the differences in impact on decision making. For example, the opinion of a developer or a property owner may have a larger “weight” in planning related discussions. At the same time the opinion of non-owners, but active users of the area, may be overlooked. Ensure, that those with smaller power capacities are included in the decision-making process.

Think of the possible needs and interests of the stakeholders. You may want to discuss stakeholder needs before the actual engagement process takes place, for example by conducting individual and group interviews, but, also, talking to people informally.

Brainstorm potential outreach methods for each stakeholder group. The methods may include advertisements in the media (social networks, news portals), personal communication (phone call, email), institutional outreach (e.g., through professional organisation, university or school).

Contact potential stakeholders and negotiate their participation in discussion of policy documents. Inform about the potential benefits and drawbacks of participation.

Next steps