Basics of Corporate Communications

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

What is the practice of corporate communications all about?

Quite simply, communicating on behalf of the corporation.  

There’s a lot that actually means, including really understanding the company, its goals, its issues, its people, its industry and more.  And if you’re working from within the company, also the internal stakeholders and their needs/wants.  

Usually the term “corporate comms” indicates in-house to me, meaning they work at the actual company they’re communicating on behalf of.  

This sometimes goes by the title of “corporate communications director,” “manager of corporate comms” and so on.  

Corporate communications almost always means some form of public relations; it can also sometimes mean they also oversee other aspects of communications such as marketing, advertising, direct outreach, digital/online.  All depends on the organization.

If they’re not inside the client, then sometimes people at a communications agency (again, often public relations) will serve the same role.  

More often than not though companies prefer their corporate communications officer “on their team,” because ultimately an agency employee is not their own.  But I have seen many cases where a long-term external relationship like this has gone very well, and for very long.

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

Steps of Corporate Communications

Corporate communications is more about communicating to a specific audience about your company. Who’s my audience? What are my objectives? Which message do I want to broadcast? How will I broadcast my message?

In corporate communications, you have 3 objectives:

To make people know: they don’t know your company? Your brand? This is your first objective. People have to know who you are, what is your goal. Do you sell something? Do you offer services?

To make people love: your objective is to make people love who you are, the values of your company and what you sell (goods or services)
To make people act: your last objective, people want to buy your goods and/or your services.


What’s the difference between Corporate Communications and Public Relations?

Corporate communications is a subset of public relations.

Public relations, at least by my definition, is a catch-all phrase for strategic communications work done to increase awareness of a company, personality, idea, etc.

It will involve an array of tactics like getting in (or out of) the news, events, promotions and social media, among others.

Corporate communications is more specifically focussed on the image, brand and reputation objectives of a corporate entity.

You might have a corporate communications department in an organization that handles news events, reporting, web content and advertisements dedicated to specific corporate initiatives.

Think about product launches, quarterly/annual stock reports, new service offerings, merger news, or a speech by the CEO as some examples of drivers of corporate communications.

Most of the time, corporate communications is “external” facing — meaning stakeholders like shareholders, news media, regulators and competitors — versus “internal” communications that might specifically deal with employee needs.

PR agencies may also have a corporate communications speciality, which might include activities like strategy, media outreach and event production — again focussed on a corporate client’s communications goals.

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

A subset of Corporate Communications is Internal Communications, which should not be overlooked!

A company’s employees can — and should — be its most powerful marketing force. As they go about their daily lives outside of the company, they provide a general impression of the company to those who know they work there.

Over time, this has enormous influence over a company’s reputation, which ultimately provides a tangible contribution to the company’s bottom line: its sales.


Internal communications is a vital aspect of any company’s marketing, and frankly the one that is most neglected and misunderstood.

So a company that has smart and savvy leadership will make sure that all of their employees understand and can clearly articulate the company’s core values and the value proposition of its products or services. In a crisis situation, the company will prioritize communication with its employees at the same level as communication with the press and the general public, so that employees can speak with confidence when questioned by friends and family members about a company’s actions.

This also aids in employee retention, as it gives employees confidence in the company’s good intentions and allows them to feel proud of their affiliation with the company, even in times of duress.

Of course, the company leadership needs to be operating from integrity and a general sense of transparency. So this is all part of a company’s culture, which always starts at the top levels of leadership.


If you want to increase internal communication, you can try following ways:

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

Aggregate and adapt

A collaborative project manager will bring ideas to the table by collecting ideas, suggestions, and goals of their teams.

This helps project managers to aggregate skill sets of the whole team. A collaboration will bring successful results by remaining adaptive and flexible.


Listen first

When working in a team different ideas needs to collaborate into workable solutions and that depends on effective collaboration.

Finding the root of any new suggestion will require attentive listening to everyone before coming to an outcome.

The active collaboration includes providing feedback to have a discussion in real time. It also involves quick respond to team members who want to be heard and valued.


Be transparent

The most effective collaborators are not much worried about the titles and roles.

They are more focused on finding the solutions regardless of who is finding it. Also, the effective collaborators share information across the board that increases a sense of workplace community.


Energize Your Team

An energized, motivated team is the strongest asset of a project. An effective collaborator teams will make sure that everyone works smart and hard. It will bring energy into a conversation by helping team members feel valued.

The teams should be always appreciated for a job well done. Team collaboration will also talk about issues that will bring team motivations about what need’s to be done.


Organise Team building activities

Teams can collaborate in a better way if they are involved in team building activities.

Team building activities will bring positive impact on office culture as it will improve communication, motivate employees, increase productivity, and help employees to get to know each other better.

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

What is it like working in Corporate Communications?

Working in corporate communications can be fun and rewarding, but like most jobs, isn’t without its challenges.

CC encompasses everything from employee communications and engagement to media and government relations, as well as marketing, event management, social media and more.

CC is ultimately responsible for protecting and enhancing brand and reputation i.e. how the business is perceived among internal and external stakeholders.

Many people do not understand the roles and responsibilities of corporate communications as a function, which can be a challenge.

Part of a communications professional’s job includes educating others on where and how you add value to the business.

While CC manages a lot of tactical and operational type tasks, it is a highly strategic function. Reinforcing this is important.

CC should also coach / guide / advise others on how to communicate effectively – this includes identifying desired outcomes, developing key messages and establishing a clear call to action, determining the best communications channel, timing, as well as key metrics to gauge effectiveness.

There’s always a lot going on in CC teams and you’ll be asked to do all kinds of things from the wider business. As such, managing time and juggling priorities is critical.

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

Should you use Social Media as part of your Corporate Communications strategy?

There was once an article where the author had been standing in line at a popular hotel in Las Vegas. While in line he tweeted (via his phone) about unhappy he was at the size of the line and the service he was receiving.

Within seconds a competing hotel chain tweeted him and stated how sorry they felt for him. Guess who lost business and guess who won.

It’s a clear cut case of pro-active social network monitoring without sounding cheap or needy. There are countless example of companies (like the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority) that monitor social networks in order to fix problems.

This technique in and of itself is spreading the word and cementing the value adds that social networks bring.

We have written articles that might be relevant – 5 ways to get more followers for your small business on Twitter.

Basics of Corporate Communications - Startup Storey Entrepreneurship Guide

Main Takeaways

Like many effective analogies, this analogy uses a touch of humor.

  1. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” – “That’s Direct Marketing”.
  2. One of your friends points at you and says: “He’s very rich. Marry him!” –“That’s Corporate Communications”.
  3. One of her friends goes to her and whispers into her ear: “He’s very rich. Marry him!” –“That’s Public Relations”.
  4. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day, you call and say: “Hi, I’m very rich. Marry me!”-“That’s Telemarketing”.
  5. She walks up to you and says: “You are very rich! Can you marry me?” –“That’s Brand Recognition”.
  6. You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” She gives you a nice hard slap on your face –“That’s Customer Feedback after a failed communications campaign”.

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