What Is Corporate Communications: Meaning and Main Functions

Updated September 30, 2022

Organizations require strategic and robust communication strategies for success. Navigating the different types of these strategies can be challenging, but they typically result in increased success. If you're a professional or organizational leader looking to improve the company's communications strategy, it's beneficial to gain an understanding of corporate communications' primary functions. In this article, we answer the question, "What is corporate communications?", explain why they are critical to consider, and summarize the primary functions of such initiatives.

What is corporate communications?

Understanding the answer to, "What is corporate communications?" can help you develop more effective communications strategies within your workplace. Corporate communications is a term that refers to the methods that organizations use to communicate with a variety of external and internal audiences, including clients, employees, stakeholders, the media, the public, and regulatory bodies. Corporate communications have three major branches, management communication, marketing communication, and organizational communication. Each of these branches cooperates to develop a strategic approach to a company's overall communications. Corporate communications can serve a variety of purposes and can take place via a variety of channels, including:

  • Reports

  • Websites

  • Advertisements

  • Publicity materials

  • Memos

  • E-mails

  • Publications

  • Press conferences

  • Meetings

  • Interviews

  • Photographs

  • Videos

  • Illustrations

  • Branding materials

  • Infographics

Important points to consider about corporate communications

Corporate communications often have a multifaceted objective. Many organizations strive to develop a communications strategy that effectively promotes their brand, minimizes inconsistencies with the organization's identity, creates internal and external support, and coordinates with stakeholders. When executed effectively, corporate communications strategies can increase an organization's profitability, consumer engagement, and industry longevity. With this objective, organizations typically establish corporate communications departments overseen by CEOs who serve as the primary decision-maker for the organization.

Typically, an organization's communications department has a few professionals responsible for various types of communication. These professionals collaborate to help ensure that communications are consistent across a range of audiences and channels. For example, an internal communications professional may be responsible for email distribution, memo writing, and meeting facilitation with other employees and management within an organization. In comparison, an external communications professional, such as a marketing coordinator, may be responsible for communications with an external audience. This position may entail the creation of promotional materials, infographics, and branding materials for distribution to customers, the media, and the public.

Related: Communication in Organizations (With Benefits and Types)

What are the functions of corporate communications?

Corporate communications strategies have a range of purposes. Because organizations may engage many audiences daily, they benefit from establishing a robust communications system that targets each. Most corporate communications units employ specialists to engage each target audience effectively. It's beneficial to understand the various functions of corporate communications, particularly if you're considering ways to restructure an organization's current strategy. Here's a list of the primary functions of corporate communications:

Public and media relations

Media and public relations (PR) refer to how an organization presents itself to and communicates with the public, including the media industry. This is one of the more well-known functions of corporate communications departments, as media and public relations initiatives are highly visible. Typically, professionals in media and public relations serve as spokespeople for the organization and monitor its official communications output. They distribute press releases, respond to media inquiries, plan news conferences, and compile media packages containing pertinent information for media professionals. The three primary components of media and public relations functions are:

Corporate reputation

Corporate reputation is the overall assessment and perception of a company by others. It involves the idea of whether the company has the ability to keep promises made. Media and public relations professionals frequently strive to cultivate a positive corporate reputation through their work.

Corporate responsibility

Corporate responsibility, also known as corporate citizenship, is a business model that's self-regulatory and enables a business to have social commitment to stakeholders, to itself, and to the general populace. This business model ensures businesses make a concentrated effort to operate in ways that benefit society and the environment rather than degrade them. Corporate responsibility programs are an excellent way to increase employee morale.

Organizational identity

Organizational identity refers to the external and internal idea of a business that gets managed through corporate communication. This identity summarizes the unique characteristics of an organization that are critical to its overall mission and purpose. Media and public relations professionals frequently attempt to manage an organization's identity through their efforts.

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

Customer communications and marketing

Customer communications encompass all of an organization's interactions with its customers or clients. Often, these communication strategies overlap with those used by marketing departments, but customer support departments may also handle them. Typically, organizations' messages to their customers are particular and targeted toward meeting their specific needs. Such initiatives are extremely beneficial to an organization's profitability and longevity, as the right messaging strategy enables organizations to achieve a high customer loyalty rate.

Marketing, which may include customer communications, is a term that refers to communication strategies directed at consumers with the goal of generating interest in an organization's products or services. It's a function of corporate communications that has a specific and quantifiable goal of increasing consumer engagement and purchases. Marketing professionals may create promotional materials and manage branding and social media accounts. The three primary components of customer communications and marketing are:

Corporate branding

This refers to the activities that help an organization develop a unified reputation. Branding entails developing a consistent message that unifies a collection of products or services under a single name. Marketing professionals can create branding by associating a favourable name with a company and establishing a positivity associated with the organization's products or services.


Promotion is a term that refers to outward or customer-facing communications strategies that raise awareness of a product or service, attract people to a brand, and encourage them to engage with that product or service. Many promotional campaigns are designed to persuade consumers to purchase a particular product over a competitor's product. Marketing professionals frequently use social media, television advertisements, and radio commercials to promote their brands.

Corporate identity

Corporate identity, like organizational identity, refers to an organization's distinct image. External and internal corporate communications typically influence this. Marketing professionals frequently make use of corporate identity in their efforts to foster positive associations or recognitions of uniqueness among a consumer base.

Crisis communication

Crisis communication refers to the messaging that organizations release in response to a specific crisis or unexpected event that, if left unaddressed, may jeopardize their reputation or success. Organizations are responsible for developing targeted strategies for addressing and discussing crisis-related issues. For instance, if an energy company were involved in a workplace accident that resulted in a crisis, such as a chemical spill that may have a negative impact on the environment, crisis communications professionals can manage the messaging surrounding the incident.

Communications professionals who manage such initiatives may initiate news briefings, schedule interviews with media houses, and advise business representatives on communication strategies. They may get tasked with communicating with attorneys, government regulators, politicians, and emergency responders as circumstances dictate. Essentially, crisis communications professionals work to safeguard an organization's ability to exist, conduct business, and maintain a favourable public and industry reputation.

Related: 7 Ways to Communicate Effectively (Plus Benefits and Tips)

Internal communications

Internal communications involves communicating with an organization's team, such as employees, managers, and leaders. These initiatives are critical because they enable organizations to streamline operations and more efficiently accomplish goals. The human resources (HR) department of an organization, which provides general management to employees, typically facilitates this type of communication.

An internal communications professional may draft emails or memos informing employees of upcoming events or new initiatives, compile employee resources, create printed materials for distribution to employees, facilitate training and development sessions, and manage internal blogs or other publications. Most internal communications professionals strive to keep an organization's workforce informed at all times to avoid communication barriers that can result in inefficiency. The following are the three primary components that comprise internal communications:

Related: What Is a Communication Strategy? (And When To Use It)

Employee communication

Employee communication is a prime concern for internal communications. Initiatives focusing on employee communications aim to educate employees and disseminate pertinent information about organizational activities. These initiatives also may share strategies for managing operations effectively.

Organizational culture

Organizational culture refers to an organization's capacity to foster a shared understanding among employees about their goals, their connections to one another, and their satisfaction with their roles. Internal communications professionals can advocate for specific facets of organizational culture by facilitating targeted initiatives that engage employees. These improvements may involve development sessions or resource compilation.

Stakeholder communication

This refers to the messaging sent by an organization to investors or private financial funders. Internal communications professionals may do this by interacting with current and prospective financial stakeholders. The aim of these actions is to foster positive relationships, strengthen an organization's reputation, and possibly secure funding sources.

Related: What is Corporate Development? (Types and Strategies)

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