In Public Relations, we recognize three groups of stakeholders in an organization. Stakeholders, as defined by Freeman, are “any group or individual who is affected by or can affect the achievement of an organization’s objectives” (Rawlins, pg.3). The three groups are faith-holders, hateholders, and fakeholders. Who are these three groups and whom should your company focus it’s attention on?
In simple terms, faith-holders are your loyal, supportive, and engaged parties. In times of crisis, they are those who fight for you, believe in your mission, and trust your decisions. They can be your customers, your employees, or the general public.
Hateholders, on the other hand, are those who dislike your company. They engage in negative actions towards it and specifically target your organization. This group could be dissatisfied customers, fired employees, or an activist group who is against your practices.
Lastly, we have those known as fakeholders. These are stakeholders who are artificially created and do not actually exist in the real world. They can be accounts created just to give bad reviews to competitors, accounts created by a company praising their own products, or fake grassroots campaigns.
Out of these three groups, it can seem overwhelming for an organization to know who they should spend their money focusing on and which stakeholders are a waste of valuable time. Time after time I see companies focusing on hateholders, trying hard to change their minds and convert them into loyal customers. I purpose you take a step back from this, and instead, start focusing on your faith-holders.
In an era that is focused so much on social media, faith-holders can be a valuable asset. One positive message or review from a loyal consumer can automatically be seen by thousands of people. These people already have a relationship with the person making this positive recommendation therefor trust is already built. People look to their friends and family before making purchasing decisions and actively seek out information on where to spend their money. In essence, your faith-holders are building your new customer base for you.
Does this mean to stop giving any attention to hateholders and fakeholders? Not necessarily.
Hateholders can be transformed into faith-holders once you address and fix what problems and concerns they have. Also, paying attention to what this group is complaining about can be valuable to your company in knowing what issues need to be addressed. Fakeholders, when able, need to be identified. Although they are not real, they can influence your real stakeholders, especially in times of crisis. When they are identified, ask them for a face-to-face discussion or a video chat, like Facebook Live, after which, they will be identified as fakes if they refuse (Luoma-aho, pg.17)
With so many organzations spending their time and money on fixing consumer complaints, sometimes your loyal customers and employees may not be recieving the focus and attention they deserve. They can be invaluable in times of crisis, and save you big money on customer acquisition. Show them the love they deserve!
Luoma-aho, Vilma. 2015. Understanding Stakeholder Engagment: Faith-holders, Hateholders & Fakeholders. Research Journal of the Institute for Public Relations. Vol. 2, No. 1. Retrieved from: http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/updated-vilma-pdf.pdf
Rawlins, Brad. 2006, March. Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations. Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved at: http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2006_Stakeholders_1.pdf