As we sit in the aftermath of a UK lockdown and government decisions, for many people, authority, be that their rail company, energy provider or indeed their government may now be viewed with a very keen eye.


Figures of authority, regardless of their own individual reputations or history, can feel the effects of a national 'feeling' of indifference or even sense mutiny.

The national feeling has been dealt a blow by COVID-19, and many stakeholders perhaps have less trust than they did way back in January of this year.  It doesn’t matter the project, the business or the size – right now we are all at risk of an organisational crisis.

James and Wooten (2005) define organisational crises as:

“Any emotionally charged situation that, once it becomes public, invites negative stakeholder reaction and thereby has the potential to threaten the financial wellbeing, reputation, or survival of the firm or some portion thereof" (p. 142).

Financial troubles or concerns and a media focus on pressing issues with the BAME community, the environment and changing legislation at pace may mean that stakeholders feel threatened by any change, however small.

How can a solid and well-performing business or public entity maintain stakeholder trust in times like these? How can it prevent or minimize collateral damage from general deterioration of sentiment and detach itself from a general crisis of confidence?

The best answer we have seen is from Springer –

"Consistently deliver the promise and redouble your communication efforts".

In short, business as usual, with a little extra. Stakeholders will have a keen interest in comprehensive, transparent and understandable information.

That means trying different things, such as the following:

  • More virtual / face-to-face communication with opinion-shaping stakeholders.
  • Issuing relevant information at the highest possible frequency through newsletters.
  • Keeping website updates as a key repository for information alongside FAQs.
  • Encourage collaboration. Seek advice and helpful resources from your organisational partners.
  • Make yourself and your team more available to answer questions and listen to concerns.
  • Foster a sense of community. Start not with 'business as usual' in your internal and external meetings, but ask instead for updates about their lives. Lead team-building activities or ice-breakers and try and build that trust.


Overall, a business which is already invested in stakeholder engagement best practice is likely to manage the changing tides of public perception well.