Managing Stakeholders in a Crisis – Lessons from FIFA

The ongoing saga of allegations of corruption at FIFA took an interesting new twist today with four of the federation’s major sponsors making separate public statements about their concerns over the course of the day. Whilst FIFA have been very effective in managing their internal stakeholders (only 2 national associations have so far broken ranks) and communicating with the media in recent weeks; it would appear that communications with a key stakeholder group – their sponsors – have left something to be desired.
FIFA’s experience follows a common pattern for organisations dealing with a crisis – a narrow focus on communicating with the most obvious stakeholders (eg employees, shareholders and the media) leads to less obvious, but ultimately important, one being ignored.  It is crucial to identify your organisation’s stakeholders and plan the most effective ways to communicate with them in advance of an incident.  Equally importantly though, you must accept that additional stakeholders may emerge in the midst of a crisis and be prepared to react when they do.