Section 5: Topic 2
Helping the hard-to-reach
Your final task is to use the information you have collected to prioritise who you will reach out to first. Traditionally, people used stakeholder analysis to select those with most interest and influence, to the detriment of those with high interest and benefit but little influence. That's why in the final column of the stakeholder/public analysis template, you identify individuals, groups or organisations who have low interest but high influence and/or benefit as hard-to-reach groups that may require special attention.
There are two types of hard-to-reach groups:
First, there are the gate-keepers who have huge influence as gate-keepers to facilitate or block impact, but who have limited interest in the research. For example, it may be at the edge of their desk and low-priority compared to other issues that are more central to their interests. As a result, they may not return the researcher’s emails or calls, and it is tempting to ignore them because they are so hard-to-reach. However, when the researcher eventually comes to their attention, the researcher may regret not investing more heavily in finding a way to get the gate-keeper’s attention early and find common ground, as they may have the power to stop you in the research in its tracks, for example preventing the researcher from getting access to data, people or resources that are crucial for their pathway to impact.
Second, there are the marginalised, who have little influence to either facilitate or block impact, and who may have limited interest in the research, but who could benefit more than anyone else if you could only make the work relevant enough. This analysis empowers you to prioritise the hard-to-reach if you wish, as well as the already-interested and powerful. The choice is yours.
The point is that you make an informed choice. You don't just reactively reach out to whoever is easiest to reach, or those outlets with the largest circulations or viewing figures. You prioritise those can benefit most from the research in a much more targeted way.
If you want to go deeper into stakeholder analysis, see this advanced guide to stakeholder analysis.
Case Study 5