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Decoding corporate communications: Functions, goals and skills

Corporate communications cover many verticals and each of them needs a separate strategy and skill set.

In a world of information overload, corporate communications is your way to expand your reach and build your brand. You need to be able to convey your message clearly and consistently across a variety of stakeholders.

It can be difficult to correlate corporate communication efforts to business impact. This article will help you position the importance of this multifaceted discipline to others. We also included examples from brands to inspire your strategy.

What is corporate communications?

Corporate communications refers to the strategies businesses and organizations use to communicate with various audiences both internally and externally. These audiences commonly include customers, prospects, employees and investors.

An effective communications strategy helps brands deliver on a compelling narrative that captures and deepens customer loyalty.

What is the function of corporate communication?

The functions of corporate communication vary according to the different audiences being targeted and the goals you need to achieve.

In most cases, companies hire specialists for each corporate communication function, such as internal communications, public relations and executive communications. However, there is often an overlap of functions across different teams. For instance, the content creation team may also handle internal communication initiatives.

In this section, we’ll look at the different corporate communication functions based on their goal and include creative examples from real brands.

Internal communications

Internal communication consists of the measures an organization takes to communicate with its workforce to maintain employee relations and streamline their work.

As companies switch to hybrid work models, effective internal communication is essential now more than ever.

There are two main aspects of internal communication: employee engagement and internal marketing. The former is to enrich employee relations, increase their productivity and retain them, while the latter is to build more awareness about the company’s offerings among employees.

Internal marketing is a strategy to help employees make an emotional connection to the products or services the company sells. Techniques such as regular email updates, company-wide newsletters and bulletin boards can be effective.

Some companies, like QAD Inc., host annual sales kickoff events to bring together employees, share best practices, product updates and get everyone re-aligned with company goals. They also give out awards to the top-performing employees and partners.

External communications or public relations

To manage and regulate the public perception of your brand, companies need to execute external communications strategies, also known as public relations (PR).

The main functions of PR are:

  • Manage a company’s identity in terms of vision and mission.
  • Generate awareness on new products and company milestones.
  • Communicate the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts.

PR needs have undergone a massive shift in the past few years, thanks to emerging technologies and changing media landscape. Today’s public relations professionals are fusing traditional skills to work with modern tools and channels to create consistent narratives that reach varied audiences.

Here’s an example of an innovative PR campaign that went viral—Rocketlane announced their Series A funding round with a custom rap song.

Executive communication

Both internal and external channels need to be leveraged for executive communication. Internally, the leadership team engages in direct communication with other teams, while externally, executives’ strong social media presence can serve as a thought leadership platform.

Executive members of an organization typically communicate externally through social media, media appearances and talks at conferences. This aims to promote brand awareness and increase sales. In fact, 32% of consumers say CEO transparency on social would inspire them to purchase from that brand.

Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva, actively engages with her audience on Twitter by sharing company milestones and also helpful Canva tips.

In many companies, there’s a communication gap between the C-suite or leadership team and other employees. A study by Gallup found that only 13% of employees strongly agree that their leadership communicates effectively with the organization. Breaking down silos with communication from leadership can help earn the trust of employees, provide stability in the workplace and a better understanding of the company’s goals.

Brand and marketing communications

Any interaction with customers and target audiences falls under the umbrella of brand and marketing communication.

There’s a wide range of channels to conduct branding and marketing activities including social media, traditional advertising media, emails and review websites. Unlike other functions of corporate communication, marketing and branding can be directly related to the company’s revenue.

Here are the main goals that marketing communications can help you achieve, especially through social media:

  • Increase brand awareness: Create content that emphasizes your brand image and values.
  • Gain leads and sales: Drive traffic to your website from social media and leverage social commerce to help you get more customers.
  • Community building: Nurture long-term growth by engaging with your audience directly.

Delta used brand and marketing communication to launch Faces of Travel, a free 100-image library that represented diverse travelers around the world. The goal of the campaign was to inspire creators to present a more inclusive picture of global travel, supporting increased brand awareness while building community.

Creating expensive ads is not the only way to market your brand. Leverage mediums that reach your target audiences, like social media where you can reach larger audiences, interact with them and measure the impact of your activities.

Allbirds, a vegan footwear brand, attracts conscious shoppers by spreading awareness on how harmful regular sneakers are for the planet via social media:

Crisis communications

With the prevalence of social media, all businesses are susceptible to controversies that were once reserved for big brands.

Crisis communication is how you respond to an event that potentially hurts your brand’s reputation or ability to do business. This includes product failures, criticisms, employee errors, site outages, broken links and responses to global events.

It’s essential to have a strategy in place so that you can take quick action and bring the crisis under control.

Monitoring social media frequently for a potential crisis can be a tedious task. And there’s a risk that once your team notices the issue, it might have already snowballed. A social media engagement tool like Sprout Social can identify early warning signs of a potential crisis through social listening. You can then quickly take steps to resolve the problem.

A dashboard view of Sprout Social showing the sentiment summary of of a brand with a chart. These helps discover how user sentiment changes over time.

Skills required for corporate communications professionals

Corporate communications has evolved over the years, requiring more diverse skill sets to execute sophisticated omnichannel campaigns. Professionals need to have a deep understanding of the company’s business goals, culture, target audience, industry and the context in which it operates.

Here are some of the skills required:

  • Hard skills: Proficiency in creating and editing written content, understanding company values and drafting guidelines, ability to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs), managing digital communication channels, familiarity with crisis communication strategies and protocols.
  • Soft skills: Relationship-building skills, leading multiple teams, problem-solving and critical thinking, strong verbal communication skills and the ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously.

Develop a communications strategy and roadmap

A strong communication strategy should help you deliver a cohesive brand presence, expand reach across channels and gather audience insights.

This will help you streamline your goals and activities, minimize gaps in communication and bring everyone on the same page.

Your communication strategy should outline four major things:

  • Audience: who you’re communicating to
  • Distribution channels: how you will reach them
  • Timeline
  • KPIs

A detailed communication plan will act as a course of action and also help you get buy-in from executives.

Make sure that your communications plan is continually optimized. It should be as dynamic as the discipline itself—use data and feedback to make decisions and align your strategy with compelling narratives.

Corporate communications: the megaphone for a company’s voice in this crowded world

An effective corporate communications plan can do more than just build a positive public image—it’s an essential part of business success.

It can be a challenge to manage your brand reputation across multiple channels. With Sprout Social’s sentiment analysis and social listening features, you can keep tabs on brand health and sentiment, as well as get deep audience insights. Giving your team more time to focus on making data-driven decisions and optimizations that will impact business goals.

Ready to level up your corporate communications strategy? We’ve created a customizable corporate communication template to help you develop an actionable plan. This template can help you create a roadmap that positions your brand as an industry leader to the audiences that matter most.

Download your free corporate communications template now to maximize the effectiveness of your internal and external communications.

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