chapter  Five
19 Pages

Openness

Strategic communications to reinforce trust and reputation
ByWitold J. Henisz

For stakeholders with high power or salience, showing openness is a direct and highly personal process. The need for learning does not stop at the design and implementation stages, but extends into openness. To that end, ongoing analysis and due diligence must track not only actions and expressions of conflict or cooperation but also messaging used by various stakeholders in their communications strategy. Where media interests are owned or heavily influenced by powerful stakeholders, it is best to consider them more than mere conduits. Crises, large and small, happen even to the best companies. When they do, reputation management operates under enormous time pressure. Ideally, a company can call upon the assistance of respected stakeholders who have granted it a high social license. Negotiations between the various stakeholders led, within months, to a new strategy to combat deforestation and increase the sustainability of palm oil.