Stakeholder mapping and how to use it in your Public Affairs efforts

It is always important to remember that every decision in the world is made by people - individuals with different levels of influence and importance. And if you want to raise awareness of your agenda or sway a decision you need to know the mindset of these people - and compare them to each other. This is where stakeholder mapping comes in as a simple but proven tool for Public Affairs professionals that creates a comprehensive overview of mindset which is also understandable for other people in your organization.

Identify your stakeholders

First of all you will need to identify the most important stakeholders for your issue/agenda. This can be politicians, officials, journalists, experts and so on. There are often many to choose from when you first get started and therefore - contrary to a lot of people’s first impression of this task - the most difficult part is often to limit the amount of stakeholders. Most of the time there are around 20-25 truly key stakeholders in an issue - not 200. But no matter the number, this task is time consuming and requires extensive research and continuous monitoring of the attitude and influence of the stakeholders. But we promise you that the task will be worth it. 

Pro-tip: Make sure that your intelligence gathering is GDPR compliant according to EU law. There are many pitfalls.

Plot the stakeholders into the map

As mentioned, the idea behind a stakeholder map is to create a simple and understandable overview of the stakeholders’ mindset. Therefore, stakeholder maps can have very different graphical outputs, but the most classical one (and the one we use in the Ulobby platform) is a XY matrix. What you measure in your axes is of course also an individual choice, but we often see our users use Attitude and Influence as their two axes. These two factors often give an indication of the positive or negative view on your issue and how much sway the interested person has. When you have decided on how your map should look, you simply plot the stakeholders in the correlating places. 

And now you have a simple and understandable overview of the stakeholders in your issue. This can help you identify the stakeholders you should target with you Public Affairs efforts, and which ones might be a waste of time due lack of influence or positive attitude towards your agenda. 

Pro-tip: It can often be more fruitful to target the undecided instead of those who either have a clear positive or negative attitude. You don’t need to sway the positives and the negatives might pose too resource-heavy a task to persuade. 

Get your stakeholder mapping digitized

At Ulobby, our clients are no strangers to stakeholder mapping and due to an overwhelming amount of requests for a digitized version of stakeholder mapping that goes hand in hand with our extensive stakeholder database, we launched our own stakeholder mapping feature earlier this year. You can see how it works in the video below - and you might find some inspiration for your own stakeholder mapping. 

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