Corporate marketing communications are about how organisations interact with various stakeholders through internal and external communications. Here we explore some best-practice examples.
With the average employee spending 50-80% of their workday communicating with others, there’s no question that both internal and external communication is tremendously important in our daily lives.
That’s why psychologists tout the importance of having an effective communication style in personal and professional relationships.
While it is relatively easy for people to communicate one-on-one, we sometimes need to communicate important messages between large groups of people who aren’t sharing the same physical space.
One such form of mass communication is through a corporate communication strategy.
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What Is Corporate Communication?
Corporate communication strategies are all about how organisations interact with external audiences and internal stakeholders, including a company’s own employees.
Northeastern University names some of these stakeholders as “customers and potential customers, employees, the C-suite and investors, the media and the public, government agencies, and third-party regulators.” Corporate communication covers a broad range of responsibilities.
What Are the Types of Corporate Communication?
The two main types of corporate communication are internal and external communications.
Internal communication is about employees, managers, executives, and board members communicating.
Some examples of internal communications are:
- A memo sent from management to all employees
- An all-hands meeting between different departments
- A team chatting on Slack
- Company announcements sharing business success or new hires
Internal communications can be formal or informal and involve many employees or just a few.
The way your teams communicate internally is important. The right corporate comms motivates employees and contributes to your company’s employee engagement and corporate culture.
Finding the right tone, frequency, and method for internal communication is crucial to your company’s success.
Learn How to Improve Your Internal Communications
External communications are the face a company presents to the outside world. It’s essential to manage the communication strategy to your external audiences because it affects your company’s public image. A public misstep can change the way consumers view you and affect your business outcomes.
External communication doesn’t always mean issuing a formal announcement or a press release. In the age of social media, most businesses can effectively communicate with consumers in a more relaxed way using tools like Twitter.
Both formal and informal external communications should be considered in your corporate communication strategy as either can impact your company’s brand image.
Why Is Corporate Communication Important?
Running a successful business is all about combining effective internal and external communications to make up a well-rounded corporate communication strategy.
Internal communications are the key to building a strong company culture. In contrast, external communication can showcase your brand promise to the right target audiences, winning you brand ambassadors and boosting your image worldwide.
Here are some real examples from the business world that show why internal and external communication is important for businesses.
Communication Supports Crisis Management
For any business, internal and external communications are important in times of crisis.
Internal communications ensure everyone is on the same page about the situation, allowing leadership to communicate directly to the stakeholders that require input. In contrast, external communications can help convey the right message to the public.
One example of successful crisis management comes from Maple Leaf Foods in Canada. When a listeria outbreak was linked to its products, they managed the crisis using a clear communication strategy.
The CEO publicly apologised, the company quickly acted to recall the items, and the tone of their messaging was transparent and accountable throughout.
Internal Communication Builds Company Culture
Thoughtfully written internal communications show a commitment to transparency by leadership. If the business faces challenges, leaders can address these and outline a plan for the future in a tactful message to internal audiences, including staff.
Collaboration in and between teams also helps to strengthen company culture and should also be factored into a company’s communication strategy.
Problematic internal communications can have corrosive effects on a company’s culture. Examples of this were seen at Uber and Away, when internal communications like memos and Slack chats were leaked to the public, putting off potential clients and losing them business.
Employee satisfaction and the culture of the business can be some of the most valuable resources in attracting the right talent and outperforming competitors.
A survey by Deloitte showed that 82% of CEOs and HR leaders believe culture is a potential competitive advantage.
Communication Helps Businesses Grow Their Audience
External communications within a business include marketing campaigns, press releases, newsletters and social channels.
A corporate communication strategy involving these channels might be called a Content Marketing Strategy. This type of external communication can help a business reach new customers and develop a voice in the public sphere.
One example of a wildly successful corporate communication strategy was a social media marketing campaign from the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, UK. Initially, this small museum had about 10,000 followers on Twitter.
However, after Program Manager Adam Koszary began targeting a Millennial audience, pairing its usual images of historic farm animals and equipment with humorous messages, the museum grew its Twitter following more than tenfold. This helped it bring in more visitors the following year.
Notably, an Exmoor Horned Ram image has been retweeted over 30,000 times thanks to its funny caption.
Digital Corporate Communication Strategies
For internal and external communication, a business should have a corporate communication strategy.
To streamline your organisation’s communication strategy, you’ll need to ensure that it aligns with your business strategy, meeting the objectives you’ve set for the organisation, uniformly enticing partners whilst looking to reach a large audience of customers and employees with any other stakeholders.
This requires a great deal of forward planning and a great tool or two to help the execution.
Here are just a few of the tools companies are currently using for communications within an organisation. Since so many tools are being used as internal and external communicators, we’ll narrow our focus to internal communications in this section.
With the growing popularity of remote work, video-conferencing has become an increasingly popular internal communication option for speaking with colleagues and team members.
Video-conferencing offers many perks of face-to-face collaboration (body language, visual impact) with the added convenience of working from anywhere.
Some of the most popular tools for video-conferencing include Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams.
Despite its many benefits, video-conferencing also has its drawbacks. Some workers report experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’ because video calls require more focus and added screen time than face-to-face contact.
Many people prefer to mix video-conferencing with other forms of corporate communication during their workday.
Project-Oriented Transactional Communication
Not every interaction requires video chat. For shorter messages or ‘direct messaging’, organisations regularly use email or chat platforms, such as Slack.
These corporate communication methods may be more comfortable for introverted employees, and they can save time as opposed to meetings.
According to McKinsey, email interaction is so popular that the average employee spends 28% of their workweek managing it.
However, some employees and executives choose to structure their day by putting aside a certain amount of dedicated time for internal communication like email or checking their messages.
An additional form of internal communication is used with email and video-conferencing to engage employees and relay information dynamically across the organisation.
The advantages of this type of communication are that it’s easy to use, flexible, and offers more choices than any of the above options alone.
Social communication tools like Workvivo look and feel like social networks. They’re an engaging way to share information within your company.
Think of it as a digital town hall or as a social network optimised for employees that brings the heartbeat, pulse and purpose of the organisation alive while keeping everybody informed.
If you can imagine a tool that provides a collaborative workspace, employee recognition initiatives, access to corporate announcements, a social network, pulse surveys, and analytics all in one, that’s Workvivo. Want to discover how Workvivo can transform your business? Our product experts are on hand to answer your questions.
Common Organisation Issues and How to Resolve Them
As previously discussed, communicating in the right way to the right people can help businesses. It can shore up organisations against crises, solve problems within the culture, and encourage growth.
Here are some specific ways communication can help your corporate culture.
Get Organised and Increase Productivity
Streamlining your corporate communication efforts will lead to a more organised working day. If stakeholders know precisely when and where to expect communications from your business, they can focus their time on them only when needed.
Workvivo customers sometimes choose an integrated communications platform to merge information into one channel. This makes it easier for employees to quickly and easily access relevant information.
Look to organise your messages to ensure that team members are not missing any crucial updates. Organising your comms correctly reduces time spent searching for information, increasing productivity.
Some types of work require uninterrupted focus. The more time workers spend switching between tasks (or context switching) because they can’t find information, the less time they’ll be able to spend on focused work.
Break Down Silos
Effective communication can help you break down silos and increase collaboration within your company.
Studies have shown that companies which promote collaborative working are up to five times as likely to be higher performing. Leaders also recognise that collaboration is vital; about 75% of CEOs believe it’s just as important as innovation.
Create a Culture of Transparency
Frequent, thoughtful communication from leadership throughout the organisation shows a commitment to transparency.
Transparency is very important to employees. In fact, 50% of workers feel their company is being held back by a lack of transparency, and 70% say they’re most engaged in their job when senior leadership regularly communicates their business strategy.
Lack of trust is another cultural problem that you may solve with better communication.
Which Corporate Communication Strategy Does My Business Need?
Choosing suitable corporate communication methods for your business depends on your team’s structure.
One factor to consider is that a remote work environment can increase communication stress. Since employees can’t walk up to each other to communicate in person, all communication needs to be online.
It’s therefore essential to invest in the right tools for remote teams, especially since remote employees may sometimes feel isolated or excluded.
Most businesses use different communication methods, including video-conferencing, email, chat, and social platforms.
While diversity in communications can be a good thing, it can also get confusing. There are real benefits to using a centralised platform like a social intranet.
5 Steps to Set up Your Corporate Communication Process
If you feel like your corporate communication strategy needs some work, there’s no better time than now to revisit it and implement a more effective plan.
By taking these five steps right now, you’ll be well on your way to improved communications.
Step One: Define Your Goals
As with most forms of business planning, the first step is to understand your goals for your internal and external communications.
Are there existing problems that need to be solved? If you’re already conducting pulse surveys, perhaps employees have been voicing their opinions about issues (such as a lack of transparency in the workplace or difficulty finding information).
If no particular problems stand out, brainstorm a list of corporate communication goals for your company within the following year. Pick a small number (three to five) out of that list to prioritise.
Step Two: Decide Who is Responsible
The next step is to decide who will ‘own’ your communications strategy.
This may be several different people. However, ideally, these people should collaborate and be aligned with the communication goals defined in Step One.
C-suite roles and HR managers are typically responsible for internal corporate communication, while marketing and PR specialists manage external communication.
Step Three: Create a Roadmap
Once you’ve decided who is responsible for your strategy, it’s time to create a detailed plan for communications across your business.
You might include the following information in your plan:
- What are our major goals?
- Who is responsible for the strategy?
- What is the voice and tone of our internal and external messaging?
- How can we measure success?
- How can we ensure accountability?
- Do we need to invest in any new tools or solutions?
- If so, what will these be, and how will we implement them?
Step Four: Set Your Budget
Another important consideration for corporate communications is budget.
Most types of communication ultimately cost money. IT infrastructure, marketing platforms, and internal communication tools are typical communications investments.
Chances are, you already have communications infrastructure in place. However, this is the perfect opportunity to evaluate what’s working and what’s not and see if the budget allows further investments that could streamline communication.
Step Five: Put Your Plan Into Action
The last step is to apply your plan ‘in the field’. If you need to restructure departments, implement new tools, or put into place a monthly communication schedule, this is the point where you can do that.
Don’t forget to include regular re-evaluations of the plan as part of your strategy to see what’s working and what’s not.
Corporate communication is a broad term, and it can mean anything from social media posts and Zoom meetings to corporate memos.
What these forms of communication have in common is they make up the fabric of your business. Your internal culture and your external brand define who you are as a company.
Communication is a crucial part of all relationships in our lives, from friendships and romantic partnerships to parenting. Business relations are no exception. With this in mind, corporate communication is undoubtedly worth your attention, time and investment.
For advice on how Workvivo can help improve internal communications within your organisation, speak to our friendly team of experts and book your free demo.
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