Effective communication and engagement is an essential component in helping to implement improvement. The first step in developing a communications and engagement plan is working out who you need to communicate with so before you can develop your plan you need to carry out Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping.

Understanding your stakeholders

This analysis identifies who your stakeholders are and the mapping identifies their degree of power and influence on the changes being planned. Knowing their power and influence on the change will help you to decide on the frequency and form of your communications and engagement activities i.e. whether they simply need to be aware of the change or whether you require their active support. You may wish to add other information to this such as their particular areas of interest within the change and the topics that will need to be communicated.

From this information you can then develop your communication and engagement plan. In your plan you should list the methods you plan to use.

The video below from our Black Maternity Matters project gives an introduction to stakeholder mapping.

How to do it

1. Identifying your stakeholders

Gather a group of subject-matter experts and individuals with extensive networks. Brainstorm and create a list of all the people and groups likely to be impacted by the proposed change. Record the list on a flip chart or type it on a laptop for everyone to see.

2. Prioritising your stakeholders

Analyze the list based on power, influence, and the extent to which they are affected by the project or change. Place each stakeholder’s name in one of the four sectors of a table (see below).

High power
Opinion formers. Keep them satisfied with what is happening and review your analysis of their position regularly.
Key stakeholders who should be fully engaged through full communication and consultation.
Low power
This group may be ignored if time and resources are stretched.
Patients often fall into this category. It may be helpful to take steps to increase their influence by organising them into groups or taking active consultative work.
Low impact/stake-holding
High impact/stake-holding

A useful acronym for ensuring that you have included all likely stakeholders in the health service is the ‘9 Cs’ listed below:

  • Commissioners: those that pay the organisation to do things
  • Customers: those that acquire and use the organisation’s products
  • Collaborators: those with whom the organisation works to develop and deliver products
  • Contributors: those from whom the organisation acquires content for products
  • Channels: those who provide the organisation with a route to a market or customer
  • Commentators: those whose opinions of the organisation are heard by customers and others
  • Consumers: those who are served by our customers: ie patients, families, users
  • Champions: those who believe in and will actively promote the project
  • Competitors: those working in the same area who offer similar or alternative services.

3. Understanding your key stakeholders

Now, it is important to gather more information about your key stakeholders. Consider how they are likely to feel about and react to your project. You can also conduct a readiness for change analysis to determine who may assist or hinder the project. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the most effective ways to engage and communicate with them.

Key questions to help you understand your stakeholders:

  • What interest do they have in the outcome of your work?
  • What motivates them most of all?
  • What information do they want from you?
  • What is the best way of communicating with them?
  • If they are not likely to be positive, what will win them around to support your project or manage their opposition?

4. Managing your stakeholders

From the stakeholder mapping and analysis the project team can devise an action plan that sustains supporters’ interest and commitment and wins round doubters.