Part II: Managing Hostile Stakeholders on a Controversial Long-term Project

Since 1990, BMF has specialized in helping clients manage a wide variety of contentious and challenging community relations issues. While we’ve seen, heard, learned and taught a lot over those 27 years, a two and a half year engagement to assist a client seeking to undertake a controversial fracking project really helped us galvanize our experience into important lessons for others to learn as well. 

Here’s part two of our two-part post (click here for part 1) on managing hostile stakeholders on a long-term project. Happy reading!  

7. A little humanity goes a long way

Accept and understand at the beginning of the project that people have a God-given right to be cynical, scared and distrustful.  They even have a right to see the facts differently than you do, or to ignore your version of the facts at will.

8. Pick and choose your battles.

Not every unsubstantiated or wild-eyed claim made by your opponent carries the same weight, so don’t over-react. However, if you sense that those allegations or downright falsehoods may make an impact on the community, the media or the relevant regulatory bodies, selectively reach out and clarify the situation quickly and on a one-on-one basis.  Don’t do the opposition any favors by raising the profile of charges that really have no credibility.

9. Your opponents won’t play by the same set of rules as you will

As companies with a reputation to protect, products or services to sell, owners to account to, employees to maintain and customers and investors to keep happy, you’re likely to be in a totally different position than your most vocal and outrageous opponent. Simply put, he or she can get away with a lot more bad attitude and bad behavior than you can, so the rules of the game are totally different for each of you.

Keep your reputation and brand equity in mind and let it guide everything you do and say, even in the most heated of circumstances.

10. Engage the media early and often

11. Constantly monitor opposition activities and social media commentary

For more information about BMF’s ability to help you manage challenging stakeholder relationships and your corporate reputation, contact Greg Beuerman at 1.504.524.3342 or