Identifying key stakeholders
Events rely on a range of partners or stakeholders for design and delivery, so it is important at the outset to identify who the key stakeholders are for your event project. For example customers, participants, performers, venues, volunteers, local businesses, local councils, police, ambulance service, the local community, funding body, sponsors and media.
Assessment of stakeholder needs and interests
Once all of the stakeholders for your event have been identified you can then begin to assess their interest and involvement in your event, their specific needs and how their needs can be met through the design and delivery of your event. For example local businesses will need to be assured that their trade will not be adversely affected by your event, so it is important that, where possible, the customers and activity related to your event do not prevent others from using local amenities. Likewise, a group like sponsors, will be seeking positive media coverage and enhanced community image, so the event must have newsworthy aspects which also consider the local community’s needs.
In reality, it may not be clear at the outset who all the stakeholders are or the complexity of their needs and some may be identified further along the planning process however, it is a valuable exercise to identify at the outset, as many stakeholders as possible.
Stakeholder communication and management plans
Having identified the range of stakeholders it may not be obvious what their needs and interests are, therefore it is valuable to research each stakeholder group and, if appropriate, identify and open communication channels with the different groups to understand their needs. This may take the form of meetings, questionnaires, focus groups, community consultations, depending on the scope of consultation required to gain their input and understand their needs.
Once needs and interests are established you must try to incorporate these and alleviate their concerns through careful planning and continued consultation where appropriate. An ongoing communication plan is also required to ensure that relations are maintained and developed as appropriate to the stakeholder’s interests in the event e.g. monthly meetings with a local resident’s association or fortnightly updates with sponsors. As the event develops, these plans should develop too.
It is important that you maintain records of communication with all stakeholders to demonstrate engagement with different groups and to guide future decisions throughout the planning process.