Besides dealing with the government, marketers must also pay close attention to other groups that can affect marketing activity. The most important of these groups are those that have an interest or stake in the organization. While such groups are not backed directly by the power of a government agencies, stakeholders can still command a great deal of influence, especially in terms of swaying public opinion. If their voice is strong enough, this can then lead to governmental action.
Influential stakeholders can be divided into two categories:
- Connected Stakeholders – These stakeholders consist of groups that regularly interact with the marketing organization and often hold important roles in helping the marketer succeed. Examples include: supply and distribution partners (e.g., distributors, material suppliers), industry standards groups, and support companies (e.g., advertising agencies). To address concerns raised by these groups often requires direct communication by management with their connected stakeholders.
- Peripheral Stakeholders – These stakeholders consist of groups that may not routinely impact the marketer unless a specific issue arises that draws their attention. Examples include religious organizations, community activists, and cause supporters. To address concerns and to communicate with these peripheral stakeholders, marketers often seek the help of public relations professionals. Depending on the circumstances, the PR strategy may involve initiating contact prior to an issue becoming public (i.e., preemptive strategy) or the strategy may be to take a wait-and-see approach (i.e., responsive strategy) before taking action.