What is corporate communications?
Corporate communication is how companies share information to internal and external audiences and engage these audiences in a bid to manage brand perception. Corporate communication is made up of three major categories, which are management communication, marketing communication, and company communication.
Using corporate communication, the communications department builds the company image, maintains a positive reputation in the industry, and bridges information gaps between employees and management. The audiences targeted through a corporate communication strategy include customers, prospects, employees, stakeholders, the media, regulatory agencies, and the general public.
Corporate communication helps to maintain compan ywide contact so that all departments can work together towards a shared mission. When used externally, corporate communication helps the company achieve various purposes, including maintaining its brand identity, directing brand reputation, managing crises, and clarifying any discrepancies perceived about the company’s offerings or activities.
It typically takes a different form depending on which audience is being addressed. It often consists of written (website, press releases, memos), verbal (interviews, videos, press conferences), and visual (photographs, infographics, illustrations) communication. Building a corporate communication strategy helps companies drive growth, scale, and stay competitive, and its success hinges on building a strong brand identity.
To do this, internal and external communication capabilities need to be aligned. Let’s start by defining each.
What is internal communications?
Internal communication focuses on messages and information sharing within a company. It includes communication from executives to employees, among teams as well as inter-departmental messages and company wide communication.
Examples of internal communications include newsletters, team meetings, knowledge management tools, company memos, training sessions, company brochures, employee handbooks, and more. The human resources team may lead internal communication or work with other departments to ensure that information sharing is easy and efficient.
What is external communications?
External communication focuses on the company’s branding and messaging to audiences like the media and the public. External communication has now extended beyond press coverage to social media. It covers all forms of communication that promote the company’s messaging.
Multiple departments, like marketing, HR, and communications work together to manage external communications. Examples of this form of communication include press releases, press conferences, advertising, digital marketing, and so on. External communication keeps customers, prospects, the media, and the general public informed and engaged while maintaining the company’s image, unique identity, and brand perception.
Goals of corporate communications
The goals of corporate communications are spread across internal and external communication teams. While internal teams work to synergize communication within the company, external communication teams are concerned about messaging disseminated to audiences outside the company.
The primary goal of corporate communications is to ensure that communication materials transmit the company’s brand in a favorable manner. This goal comes with widespread functions that we will examine below. It also encompasses other objectives that make corporate communications pivotal to a company’s success.
Corporate communication teams work cohesively to build and maintain the company’s reputation through various methods like press releases, interviews, marketing materials, and more. This reputation is also upheld internally through team meetings, company materials like employee handbooks, etc.
The brand perception created internally and externally ought to be uniform, and the corporate communications department is tasked with maintaining this uniformity.
Corporate communications are also used to promote a company’s products and services. Corporate communications functions can collide with marketing to ensure that advertising channels are correctly utilized to generate interest in a company’s product.
Similarly, corporate communications play an essential role in stakeholder communication.
It helps sustain investors’ interest in the company in the same way that it enhances employee collaboration. Corporate communications allow a company to respond promptly and appropriately to crises. The goal here is to maintain brand reputation by forestalling anticipated damage or repairing any damage caused already to the company’s public perception.
How does corporate communications work?
There are many ways to use corporate communication in your company. Here are some ways the communication team focuses on building a solid corporate communication program.
Brand awareness (corporate identity)
Building a company’s reputation involves establishing household or workplace identities and capturing the audience’s attention. Branding defines who a company is, what they do, its products, and what that means to the public. It’s the task of corporate communication teams to create favorable messaging around the brand and lead with its reputation, internally and externally. A good name with a polished brand perception is very valuable these days and rarer than one would think.
Brand credibility (corporate reputation)
Brand credibility refers to a company’s trustworthiness in relation to how well its product fulfills promises made to users. Brand credibility is tied to identity, reputation, expertise, and delivery.
A company’s product should meet consumers’ needs exactly as marketing said it would. Achieving this instills trust in its customers, and this builds brand credibility. Corporate communication departments may engage with marketing materials, crisis communication techniques, and other strategies that help maintain brand credibility to ensure mission focus.
Companies are only as successful as the people who work there! Internal communications strategies like training, team meetings, memos, and more can help build brand talent. But these pieces of content and events must be valuable, not just checking a box, or that talent you enticed to join your company will soon become bored and seek other opportunities.
Internal employee engagement from the top down is vital to any company’s success. Employees are brand ambassadors who lead the way in external communication with potential customers by way of employees’ social reach. Providing employees with the right tools and content to share is vital and can often directly impact a company’s financial growth.
The more productive your people are, the higher your revenue generated and the lower the cost. This assumes they’re all working from a single source of truth and aren’t confusing consumers, their fellow employees, or themselves with outdated information. Strategic corporate communications teams know where to find employees when they have news ready to message out. They know what insight to share with them and when, and they always have a relevant ‘call to action’ at the ready!
Corporate communications functions
The communications department is tasked with various functions that keep internal and external audiences informed and engaged daily. Department members develop strategies that they distill into tasks to ensure communication is maintained on all company levels.
Usually, members of the corporate communications team would be professionals specializing in one or more of the corporate communication functions. These professionals would then collaborate to ensure the effective implementation of the company’s communication goals, typically in a way that reaches all stakeholders. Understanding the different functions embedded in the corporate communications team will help you develop a solid program.
Customer communications and marketing
The lines between communications and marketing blurred in recent years, with the two departments often working in tandem to enhance customer communication. Through its external communication teams, corporate communications strategy influences marketing strategy. Marketing also impacts internal communications, with both departments working in synergy to achieve common goals. When these teams aren’t talking, issues arrive, as they can communicate very different things to their respective audiences.
While working to enhance customer and other external communication, corporate communication professionals will inform the creation of critical marketing materials for achieving their goals—and if they aren’t, they should be! The content manager of the marketing team should be aligned with corporate communications to create marketing collateral, including emails, newsletters, website copy, fliers, social media content, and more.
Media and public relations
Public relations is an external form of corporate communication. This function is the public-facing facet of communication that helps generate a company’s public opinion. Corporate communication departments are tasked with engaging with the media and communicating with the public. Companies will often utilize press releases, news conferences, product launches, event materials, interviews, and more to generate news coverage.
Corporate communication departments are also tasked with quelling unanticipated events through appropriate messaging. With each crisis, the communications department creates a matching strategy to restore the public’s confidence in the company and, by doing so, protects its brand’s reputation.
The communications team achieves this through interviews, news conferences, emergency responders, and meeting with regulatory bodies, attorneys, politicians, and other people involved in the unfolding event. What qualifies as a crisis would differ between companies but may include product defects, workplace accidents, chemical spills, market losses, consumer trends and fads, social media perception, litigation, and more.
While being responsible for outward-facing communication, corporate communications are ultimately responsible for all internal messaging. This includes company news, internal blogs/newsletters, emails, memos, employee resources such as training materials and handbooks, employee advocacy events, team meetings, and more. Internal communications focuses on employee engagement and its impact on the workforce.
Benefits of corporate communications
Corporate communication is focused on more than just external communication. It also highlights and seeks to enhance communication between a company’s leadership team and its employees.
The main priority of a communication team is building and maintaining the brand and identity of a company. Perception and reputation carry much weight when building relationships with the media, the general public, and other companies. A good company image can impact how a company’s product is perceived, turning customers into brand advocates and increasing market share.
Corporate communication helps navigate crisis management and aids decision-making, helping management to propel the company in the right direction. When corporate communications are on point, it supports company performance internally and externally.
Why corporate communication is important
In a crowded and competitive marketplace, companies need to have a clear identity that helps them reap small and long-term benefits. Customers stay loyal and feel safe when a company has a secure and consistent brand. Investors feel committed to investing in the company as well. And employees remain confident about the capabilities of executives and the direction of the company when they know what is going on—and this is crucial when it comes to retaining top talent.
The role of corporate communications professionals
Corporate communications professionals fulfill many responsibilities, including developing and implementing communication strategies, working with media outlets, and managing the company’s online presence. They ensure that the company’s messaging is uniform and audience-appropriate, and these professionals essentially move the company forward on all fronts.
As a result, they require many skills to perform well in their roles, including writing, presentation, data analytics, critical thinking, and technical skills. Their work is pivotal to the success of any company.
To better understand how a great internal communications program looks, check out Simpplr’s State of the Internal Communications Benchmarking and Report.