The revival of corporate magazine in building stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder and public engagement

The revival of corporate magazine in building stakeholder engagement

Alessio Di Leo, Lorenza Gerardi, Fabiola Sfodera, Alberto Mattiacci

The recent explosion of competition and other issues on the market has upset the balance of companies and led to a crucial recognition: selling products or providing services it’s no longer enough. Market exchange today lies on a fragile and contradictory ground: the offering blowup has eroded value offering, and the impact of digital on consumers’ purchase intentions affected their indifference to advertising and gave them more empowerment (Füller et al., 2009; Spaid and Flint, 2014), “In this era of horizontal and inclusive power, the oversupply and the decline of confidence in traditional institutions – equal to 20,8% according to Eurispes (2019) – bring companies at the center of a big challenge: the stakeholder relations management and the creation of trust are new opportunities to create a competitive advantage (Harrison et al., 2010), “The missing value offered by companies can be found today in the settlement between society and business, rewinding the evidences of the Multi-Stakeholder Theory (Freeman, 1984) in a modern sustainable approach in order to maximize the value for both the company and its stakeholders. Corporate sustainability should be interpreted not as an additional constraint, but as a key factor for the company’s attractiveness, to increase its competitive advantage over its competitors. From this perspective, corporate sustainability is a new model of corporate management and governance based on the satisfaction of stakeholders’ expectations (Golinelli, 2000), “The pressure towards corporate sustainability has built a context in which companies grow in power and influence through the impact they have on society, through the creation of awareness of its activities and the promotion of its benefits for stakeholders (Carroll and Buchholtz, 2003).

According to Andriof et al. (2017), companies need to establish an interactive relationship with stakeholders, characterized by mutual involvement and oriented towards the creation of a common interest between business and society based on transparency and responsibility. The expression “Stakeholder Management” loses its worth, because it is stained with an enterprise-centric orientation that is outdated in light of the recent conceptualization of the enterprise-network. Within the most recent re-elaborations of the Stakeholder Theory, the focus of companies has therefore shifted from the identification of stakeholders to the relations entertained with them, which must be mutual and bidirectional. Stakeholder Marketing represents for companies a way of managing marketing that no longer looks to consumers as the only holders of a “stake”, but considers the interests of the community, governments, groups, employees, institutions and society in general (Hillebrand et al., 2015).

The profound changes we are experiencing, together with the spread of the internet and, above all, social media, have changed the relationship of influence between businesses and their stakeholders, especially for consumers. While in the past companies communicated directly to consumers to change their preferences with a top-down approach, today consumers make demands on companies based on their values and it becomes crucial for companies to create new narrative opportunities in business storytelling (Pulizzi, 2012; Schaltegger and Wagner, 2011), “In fact, adopting socially responsible behaviour, responding to the economic, environmental and social expectations of creates an undoubted competitive advantage for companies. In fact, a product value is also given by its non-material characteristics, such as the origin of the components or raw materials, the assistance services and the working conditions of those who produced it (Choi and Ng, 2011), “This is why it is important for a company to communicate its values and information about the services and products provided and its overall approach to sustainability.

Communicating a coherent and precise corporate culture is an essential step for companies wishing to communicate with their stakeholders. After the massive proliferation of debates about social media ethics and responsibility, the corporate storytelling survives the decline of social media reliability by searching new opportunities in the corporate magazine revival (Carbonell et al., 2017), “According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (2018), about 60% of people worry about incorrect information and fake news on social media and trust more traditional media like press. Despite their high penetration rates, social media tends to lack in-depth content consumption. The problems related to the media convergence may become useful to rethink digital channels as integrations of traditional media in a cross-media strategy (Hearn et al., 2009), “

Today, the use of corporate magazines is one of the most widespread value communication tools used by companies, both in print and digital format, to keep the stakeholders constantly informed about their activities and/or to promote their image to the target audience. The contents of corporate magazines concern the information that the company chooses to communicate inside and outside the organization, with the aim of stimulating conversation around the brand and generating involvement in its stakeholders, including, employees, shareholders, and suppliers.

This study aims at investigating the impact of the corporate magazine storytelling in the creation of shared value for different stakeholders and in the company positioning on the market. In fact, printed media is still a decisive factor for creating engagement and trust between the firm and its stakeholder, for building a dialogical and lasting relationship between the firm and its audience. Cross-channel storytelling, in this scenario, can deepen engagement and brings to light the usefulness of corporate magazines in the managing of corporate positioning and reputation (Vendelø, 2008), “The research hypothesis is that there is a positive relationship between the publication of a corporate magazine and the improvement of the company’s reputation and its relations with stakeholders.

#corporate communication #corporate magazine #multi-stakeholder approach #stakeholder marketing #stakeholder theory