The answer to “what is corporate communication” is quite simple. The term corporate communications refer to a set of internal and external communication activities led by a private or public organisation (a company, an association, an NGO, a trade body, etc.) to achieve recognition amongst its corporate audiences. Corporate communications are aimed at various stakeholders like shareholders, journalists, investment analysts, regulators, and political decision-makers.
Corporate communications help shape one organisation’s “corporate identity”, also defined by the famous Dutch organizational theorist Cees Van Riel as “the self-portrayal of an organisation, i.e the cues or signals it offers via its behaviour, communication and symbolism”.
Corporate communications are an imperative to a well-functioning organisation
Corporate communications are of critical importance to most businesses and organisations. It is through effective, consistent, and clear corporate communication that organisations can stay afloat in ever-changing and challenging environments and maintain a credible reputation amongst their key audiences.
In today’s age, corporate communications professionals are focused on devising, implementing, and overseeing various communication strategies, both internally and externally. These strategies cover the engagement with the media, the handling of crisis communications, or the management of internal communications to boost the cooperation between the employees and their managers.
These professionals are also responsible for safeguarding the reputation of the company and its management. They share timely and accurate information with potential and existing stakeholders and investors and help maintain an open line with public decision-makers such as regulators or members of the government.
Corporate communications are unique to each organisation.
The corporate identity captures the uniqueness of the organisation. It encompasses the organisation’s image, its values and history. Corporate communications highlight the unique attributes and differentiators as well as the competitive advantages of one organisation to make it stand out from its peers and likely competition.
Corporate communications may be the reflection of an organisation’s history, they are also shaped by other factors such as internal guidelines, the media savviness of its management, the industry the company operates in, or the social object pursued by the association.
Corporate communications’ activities are plural and varied
Ultimately, an organisation’s communication strategy will typically consist of written word (internal and external reports, advertisements, website copy, promotional materials, email, memos, press releases), spoken word (meetings, press conferences, interviews, video), and non-spoken communication (photographs, illustrations, infographics, general branding).
What does corporate communication include?
- Internal communications: all communications issued by dedicated departments or management addressed to employees (and stakeholders in some cases)
- External communications: all communications conveyed between different external audiences, including the media, government and public institutions, industry bodies and trade associations, general public
- Media and public relations – when an organisation engage with the media (print, online or broadcast) on an ad hoc or regular basis
Corporate communications speak to all, in their own way
Corporate communications are aimed at corporate audiences – audiences who are not motivated by purchasing the organisation’s service directly but are rather interested in knowing about the inner workings or the corporate activity of the organisation.
These audiences include, but are not limited to:
- Business partners
- Shareholders and investors
- Customers and potential customers
- Communities and society
- The media and the general public
- Government agencies and other third-party regulators
What is not corporate communications?
Although the boundaries between the different disciplines are blurred, we do not believe that the following activities fall into our definition of corporate communications, although they are closely related and help shape the corporate identify of one organisation.
- Customer communications
The activities listed above are mainly aimed at supporting the sale of products, services, and brands when corporate communications do not focus on sales.
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