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Peak bodies are your best friend when engaging with industry

Successful stakeholder engagement can often be about determining, managing and balancing the wants and needs of a divergent range of individuals, families, community groups, small businesses, and large corporations.

But there’s a key set of stakeholders that wield a strong sphere of influence over all of those groups but are sometimes forgotten – peak bodies.

Your stakeholders

Naturally, when you think about your key stakeholders, customers are first on your mind. And rightfully so.

Their value is usually measurable through revenue targets and invoicing, and their satisfaction is integral to the success of any business.

You regularly speak with them, hold discussions about them, deliver workshops and develop plans and frameworks that focus on how to engage with them.

But have you paused to consider who else is speaking with your customers, and in turn, influencing their decision making?

For those less familiar with the term, a peak body is a non-government organisation with a membership consisting of individuals and/or smaller organisations, united with a shared purpose.

This purpose could include lobbying government, conducting research, sharing industry and legislative knowledge, and raising the profile of its membership through promotion and media.

The value of engaging with this group should not be underestimated – they are a wealth of industry knowledge and hold valuable audience data and insights.

Mapping your stakeholders

Stakeholder mapping is a frequently used exercise by stakeholder engagement professionals.

An advantage of mapping is that it allows you to prioritise your stakeholders, so you can focus your attention in the most impactful way.

The process helps to identify and understand interested individuals and groups and those that have the potential to influence your business, projects, and others’ perspectives, including media and government.

Typically, a simplified stakeholder list will include the below groups:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Investors and shareholders
  • Suppliers and vendors
  • Government
  • Nearby residents, businesses and communities
  • Media

Anything missing? Yes – peak bodies.

Peak bodies not only influence customers, but they can also set the benchmark and key trends for specific industries as well as act as representatives for industry groups.

If large (and loud) enough, peak bodies sway policy and government decision-making.

As a representative and influential body, these groups are often quoted in media as representatives of industry and in turn can influence investors, and in some cases, share prices.

As part of the stakeholder mapping process, consider the prominent level of influence and interest peak bodies may have on your project and business through their status as a representative of a wider group, and a leader in industry knowledge.

If you are not convinced, here are five reasons why engaging with peak bodies can help you influence your customer’s decision-making and grow your business.

1. Representatives of your target group

Representative groups understand the needs, expectations, opportunities and risks of all that operate in their industry or live in their community. These insights may assist in developing engagement strategies and identifying appropriate channels to reach your key stakeholders.

2. Established network

Peak bodies usually have their own database of interested groups, including customers, suppliers, industry contacts and government representatives, as well as channels for communication such as newsletters, events, webpages and social media channels.

By engaging early with peak bodies, your business can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, share audience content and communication channels, and identify trends, risks and opportunities.

3. Leverage from established reputation and credibility 

As industry – and often local -representatives, they bring reputation and credibility through association to your engagement and should be considered in future engagement plans and strategies.

Media, government and other decision makers will often look to peak bodies for a ‘pulse-check’ for industry, including new opportunities, potential risks and other insights which may support or influence decision-making.

4. Best practice engagement tactics and channels for your audience

Peak bodies have established channels and understand the communication tactics that work (and those that don’t) to achieve cut-through messaging to their target audience.

Following these trialled and tested methods of engagement will save time and achieve a higher level of engagement with your associated target group.

The larger peak bodies often host industry events, including educational workshops, networking functions and awards. These events may be member-only, but also offer opportunities for guest speakers, one-off attendance, and sponsorship.

5. Access to key industry insights (and contribute to problem solving)

When engaging with your stakeholders, you want to be the source of truth and have the latest industry knowledge at your disposal.

Peak bodies are usually subject matter experts and provide timely, responsive and informed direction to support industry to deliver and meet their various objectives.

As experts, they provide knowledge to their members, media, government and regulatory bodies. Their guidance includes the sharing of information and education initiative, new industry insights, and can help to identify risks, opportunities and trends.

So, where do you start

The structure of each individual peak body is unique. Larger bodies may include paid staff, while smaller bodies may be run on a voluntary basis.

Because of this, the communications, availability, membership engagement and level of authority and influence will vary.

Cannings Purple is proud of our trusted relationships with key peak bodies across an extensive list of industries:

  • Education
  • Mining and resources
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Health (including disability and mental health)
  • Energy and utilities
  • Technology
  • Labour and professional services

Start a conversation today with our experienced Stakeholder Engagement team to better understand how to achieve the greatest value from your stakeholder interactions. Our team of specialists can provide support in engagement frameworks and strategies, stakeholder mapping and targeted content creation.

About the author

Siobhan, better known as Shiv, is not only a weapon but a client-centric communicator, who works with businesses to build strong stakeholder relations and manage brand reputation.

Shiv has worked within communications, public relations and event management roles for government, private and non-for-profit in Victoria and Western Australia. Contact her here.