Not quite public relations and not quite marketing, corporate communications is the often overlooked and misunderstood corporate function. But rather than being the ugly duckling of the business world, corporate communications is proving vital for organisations’ wellbeing. But what is this mysterious activity, and why should organisations care?
So what is it?
Corporate communications focusses on strengthening stakeholder relations in order to build and maintain an organisation’s reputation. The important thing to note is that it concentrates on stakeholders not shareholders. Instead of taking a purely profit-driven marketing approach and broadcasting sales messages aimed at influencing potential customers, corporate communications aims to manage the communications between the organisation and stakeholder groups.
Who are we communicating with?
So who are these stakeholders we’ve heard so much about? The answer is, anyone who affects or is affected by the organisation. This includes a huge number and range of people, including:
- Organisations in the supply chain
- People in the local community where the organisation operates
Although they are not all going to be direct customers, the organisation depends on these groups. Ignoring stakeholders can lead to severe reputational damage, which is inherently bad for the organisation as well as affecting the bottom line.
What are we communicating?
The precise messages will be specific to each organisation. They will be based on the organisation’s:
- Mission – its purpose, or reason for being
- Vision – what it aims to be in the future
- Objectives – shorter term goals, in line with the vision
- Strategies – actionable plans to achieve objectives
The purpose of corporate communications is to build the organisation’s reputation amongst all stakeholders. In order to do this it is important to present the same message to all stakeholder groups, although the means through which the message is communicated may be different for the different audiences.
So what you communicate with stakeholders will contribute to achieving predefined objectives, realising the vision and ultimately the mission of the organisation. And by maintaining strong communications with stakeholders the organisation’s reputation, and future, should be assured. That’s the plan!