Alignment is defined in this book as ‘a mutually rewarding relationship between a company and its key stakeholders, enabling the firm to realize its purpose’. Managers can select a road map that either stresses negotiation or confrontation. Implementing these road maps can be carried out in two different styles. One is called a rational approach, in which corporate leadership convinces stakeholders that they are receiving an offer so beneficial that it can’t be refused, a tactic most pertinent for consumers. A second style of working is the normative approach, in which the organization stresses the advantages of alignment by showing how it serves a social purpose. This is more useful with a variety of stakeholders with different interests. Both approaches, however, rely greatly on corporate communication to articulate and project the mutually rewarding benefits of alignment. (See Figure 7.1.)

The same is true during negotiations with external audiences, through well-crafted messages that stimulate an awareness of the firm in general, while specifically demonstrating or proving its legitimacy, making it clear to stakeholders that the organization is a worthy and worthwhile dialogue partner. Stakeholders will also be more inclined to participate in dialogue and alignment if the company is perceived as attractive, thanks to content in communication about the financial and social benefits that could follow.