Week 9 — Corporate PR

When you hear the word ‘corporate’, you probably think: a group of dark shadows in suits and ties, aimlessly hovering about the office in silence, with the occasional whisper from the photocopier as it makes copies of the agenda for Susan to bring to the next meeting.

Corporate public relations however, (one of the the only times you will see me write the full term) is less about boring days spent in an office hunched over a computer waiting for the day (or your life) to end, and all about EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION.

Some people have it twisted though. PR isn’t throwing sweet parties for no reason and going to business lunches all day. A PR firm is the gold link between an organisation and its stakeholders (anyone with an interest in the organisation e.g. employees, suppliers, directors, and customers etc.).

Communication is all around us. We, as people and individuals, communicate more than you even realise (and I communicate more than I think my friends and family wish I did. Bless them). Anyway, think about it. From the way we dress, our verbal and non-verbal language, the car we drive, the places we shop. All of it is communicating something, whether we like it or not. It is also imperative that we do communicate in one way or another (preferably in a way that the person or people we aim to communicate to or with understands).

Corporations (‘corp’ or ‘corps’ for short) are exactly the same, except they usually have a very clear reason to communicate — usually promoting and selling a product or service.

As a corp, you gotta communicate to survive (a bit like me tbh).

What is corporate communication?


“…the total communication activity generated by a company to achieve its planned objectives”
(Jackson 1987 cited in van Riel & Fombrun, 2007, p.25)

As DJ Khaled would say, #anotherone:

“…a management function that offers a framework for the effective coordination of all internal and external communication with the overall purpose of establishing and maintaining favourable reputations with stakeholder groups upon which the organisation is dependent”
(Cornelissen, 2008, p.5)

There are 3 types of Corporate Communication according to Van Riel & Fombrun (2007):

  • Management Communication (between management and internal/external audiences e.g. speeches)
  • Marketing Communication (product based — higher budgets, direct mail, personal selling)
  • Organisational Communication (aimed at corporate audiences such as stakeholders, financial journalists, legislators etc.)

Is this all just made up for fun or does corp comm serve a purpose?

The answer is YES, it does have a purpose (well, it has a few really).

  1. Build, maintain and protect the image and reputation of the company (Cornelissen)
  2. Flesh out the profile of the ‘company behind the brand’
  3. Minimalise discrepancies between desired identity and brand featuers
  4. Formulate and execute effective comm procedures
  5. Mobilise internal and external support behind corport objects

(Points 2–5 cited from van Riel & Fombrun)

Dot points & numbers are the most concise way to explain a weeks worth of info, especially when I’m dropping knowledge bombs on everyone. Short, sharp, shiny (where did that saying even come from and what are they referring to when they say the third word (shiny)??).

Anyway, just a heads up: this post is STILL going….and week 9 was HUGE.

Now that’s out of the way..

On to the functions of corp comm:

  • Marketing comm
  • Advertising
  • Customer relations
  • Business-to-business comms
  • Image and profiling activities
  • Sponsorships
  • Public Affairs
  • Media Relations
  • Crisis Comms
  • Issues Management
  • Employee Comm
  • Technical Comm
  • Financial and non-financial reporting
  • Labour Relations
  • Government Relations/Lobbying

Who would have thought corp comm had so many functions?!

It seems to be everywhere and in everything, because it basically is. We talked about the company communicating to its stakeholders, but what about within the organisation itself?

Every company has a structure. For Australian companies (and very similarly to companies on Hong Kong), a common structure is:

Board of Directions — CEO — Divisional General Managers, CFO, COO, COO — Operating and Support Divisions — Middle Managers — Operating Core (operatives, technicians, salespersons, clerks, machinists etc.)

Practitioner roles in corp comm in a nutshell:

  • Comm technician role — practitioner provides specialist skills, preparing comm materials, not part of management team
  • Expert prescriber role — practitioner operates as authority on comm problems and solutions, management assumes passive role
  • Communication facilitator role — practitioner as ‘go-between’ on info broker, serves as liaison, interpret and mediator between org and stakeholders
  • Problem-solving process facilitator role — practitioners collab with other managers to define and solve comm and stakeholder problems for the org, play a more active part in strategic decision-making

So yeah, PR covers a lot of stuff. This weeks lecture was 25 slides deep in Corp PR, the definition, function, purpose, practitioner roles, and it showed examples of certain company’s structure around the world (i.e. Telkom Indonesia, Zurich Insurance Company South Africa, Rio 2016 Organising Committee, and Siemens Corp Comm structure…just to name a few).

That’s me done. I’m off to get a snack. Dried mango anyone?


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