Paul Arts



Not choosing is losing

It’s time. The hard work has been done on the new vision, strategy or proposition. Now it’s time to communicate. But no matter how tempting it is to translate all that hard work and excellent knowledge into a lot of content: don’t do it (yet).


I always challenge clients to think from the outside in. Who will we communicate with? What need do we want to meet? What is their interest? That determines what we say. And why. And to whom. For example, our Port of Amsterdam customer does not communicate to the residents of Amsterdam about energy transition as a strategic pillar, but we tell them that the Amsterdam port is becoming a rechargeable battery for the city.

I recently read another great example in Adformatie. It was an interview with CEO Roger van Boxtel and Communications Director Bartho Boer of the NS, the Dutch railway company. The company was in a deep crisis in 2015 and its reputation score was dramatically low. Instead of continuing to talk about innovations, they chose to link its story to the needs of the traveler: safe, clean trains that run on time. And that made a big difference. Their reputation score grew from 51.9 in 2015 to 61.4 in 2018.


Good stakeholder communication requires a number of things:

  • Connecting the needs of the most important stakeholders with the strategy
  • Sharing the stakeholder communication strategy with the organization
  • Creating relevant content
  • Setting objectives, measuring and adjusting
  • Perseverance. A reputation score or other KPI does not affect you “overnight”





Benjamin Franklin said it long ago: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Involve the right colleagues. Start the dialogue with customers, partners and other important external stakeholders. This is how you build up support. Know that, together, you will always move forward.


Do you want to know more about stakeholder communication and how you can get a grip on your organization’s? Send me a message and I will happily share some of my knowledge with you.