The importance of third party influence in impacting the reputation and relationships that stakeholders have with organisations is well documented in academic research. However, there is a void in both the study and practice of how such influence affects reputation. This paper sets out to fill this void by presenting the Channel Strategy Model. This model enables us to understand how the networks of influence that operate around key stakeholders affect their behaviour and how this knowledge can be deployed to mobilise networks of influence in the framing of successful communications campaigns.
The Channel Strategy Model contributes in three ways to how communications and reputation management have traditionally operated in practice. First, it shifts the approach from companycentric, inside-out communications to stakeholder-centric outside-in communications,thereby understanding stakeholder narratives and perspectives that are outside of the companies’ sphere of experience. Second, it leverages networks and encourages indirect rather than only direct communications. Third, it emphasises the importance of communication as a two-way process and highlights the critical importance of listening as well as broadcasting in building reputation.
The paper concludes with a brief outlook on how the Channel Strategy Model can be used to guide stakeholder engagement and communication strategy in a way that allows companies to identify how and with whom they could communicate to create mutual benefit