Doctor SpinPublic RelationsCorporate CommsHow to Properly Classify Stakeholders in Public Relations

How to Properly Classify Stakeholders in Public Relations

Stakeholders are a central part of public relations.

Stakeholders play a central role in public relations.

In public relations, we typically segment three audiences; publics, influencers, and stakeholders. They overlap but are used for different purposes.

How To Define Public Relations

PR (public relations) = the strategic and tactical use of communication to develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders, influencers, and publics.

Please note:

Stakeholders — with various interests in the organisation.

Influencers — gatekeepers with important audiences.

Publics — groups with key communicative behaviours.

Learn more about public relations.

Influencers and publics exist regardless of the organisation, whereas stakeholders exist because of the organisation.

“In a corporation, a stakeholder is a member of “groups without whose support the organisation would cease to exist”, as defined in the first usage of the word in a 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. The theory was later developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s. Since then it has gained wide acceptance in business practice and in theorising relating to strategic management, corporate governance, business purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR).”

Source: Wikipedia

The Stakeholder Model in PR

Arranging groups of people as stakeholders is common in the world of PR. So common that most PR specialisations have been named following the model.

Stakeholders in PR
Typical stakeholders in PR.

Developing and maintaining relationships with various stakeholders is a significant challenge for PR professionals since their information needs are typically very different. From a resource perspective, the PR function must constantly struggle to find the right balance in prioritising these needs.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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