How to Differentiate Stakeholders vs Audiences

Stakeholders vs audiences

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Who are the people that matter the most to your organization? Some people will say “audiences,” while others may say “stakeholders.” You may think that these terms are synonymous, but there are some critical differences.

Distinguishing between who is an audience versus a stakeholder is essential for successful stakeholder engagement and achieving business goals.

Standing Partnership helps break down the differences between these two groups and tips for effectively engaging both.

Stakeholders vs Audiences

Although many confuse these two groups, the difference becomes clear simply by breaking down the terms to describe them:

Audience – the receivers of a message

Stakeholdersgroups or individuals who are impacted by the decision and actions of an organization

Typically, organizations try to push out specific messages to audiences in a one-way fashion. For example, when companies send out news releases, key information is communicated to audiences. However, the organization does not expect the audience to respond or weigh in.

On the other hand, stakeholders are directly impacted by the actions of an organization and therefore hold a stake in those decisions. This includes current employees, shareholders, investors, regulators, policy-makers and more.

Unlike the one-way communication that occurs with audiences, stakeholders actually do respond to and engage with messages from the organization. This is why it is important for organizations to properly manage stakeholders and effectively engage with them.

What Strong Stakeholder Engagement Looks Like

Standing Partnership offers an excellent example of stakeholder engagement in action by looking at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Through a recent initiative, NIFA aimed to 1) ensure broad stakeholder engagement to fuel the conversation on how to advance transformative science, and 2) implement “user-inspired” investments in the agricultural sciences.

See how NIFA successfully fostered stakeholder engagement in the blog post from Standing Partnership. You can also read more insights about Stakeholder Strategy.


Standing Partnership is a marketing and corporate communications consulting firm located in St. Louis that excels at strategy and execution. Since 1991, their consultants have worked with business leaders in agriculture, healthcare, professional services, manufacturing and other major industries to accelerate growth by tying marketing to the bottom line. Through messaging, brand identity, executive communications, stakeholder engagement, corporate social responsibility reporting, and crisis preparedness, Standing Partnership helps organizations gain market and societal acceptance.

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