Corporate communications refers to any means by which information or ideas are communicated from a corporation to an external party, or between parties within a corporation itself. Corporate communications can take many forms, from verbal to written to visual. It spans all media forms, from intercompany memos, to press releases, to interviews given to the media, to multimedia presentations at trade fairs. Any time a corporation is making a communication that is not an advertisement, that is corporate communications. Some of the main forms are public relations, speeches, web content, internal communication and government communication.
The field of corporate communications is specifically concerned with these flows of information. Communications staff work are responsible for managing these flows. They are involved in setting the agenda for what is communicated; when and where it is disseminated; and they write and produce the communications.
For me, corporate communications is a tremendous opportunity. I have a very positive attitude towards the field. It is a way of managing information flows and being creative at the same time. I am excited by the variety of opportunities in the corporate communications field.
Computers are an essential tool in corporate communications. They perform a myriad of functions. Indeed, it would be difficult to pursue the field without the use of computers. Among the functions they perform are gathering, organizing, production and dissemination of information.
The gathering function incorporates the Internet and email. These tools provide means of researching. The Internet often contains an internal company website from which information can be drawn. Email not only helps to bring in vital information but it also can be used to coordinate information during the key stage when communiques are being put together. It is important to have regular, reliable communication with all related parties, from the relevant functional departments and from the legal department, in addition to the relevant parties within the communications department. Statistical tools like spreadsheets and databases are often used to gather information from sets of raw data.
The production function utilizes many different computer applications. Word processing is the most basic, but the corporate communications staff will also make use of many other applications. Images will need to be processed before use, in an application like Photoshop. Charts and graphs can be generated from spreadsheets. Many corporate communications are produced as.pdf files to ensure the integrity of their contents. Print communiques will require layout done as well. Mass communiques like flyers and pamphlets are produced at a reprographic shop, and all of their machines are run on computer.
In a modern corporation, the dissemination of corporate communications is frequently conducted via computer. Even communiques that exist in physical form, such as those produced in a reprographic shop, often have a digital form as well, such as a downloadable.pdf file. A high volume of internal communications is conducted through the use of email systems to which most or all employees have access. External communications often involves computers as well. Databases are maintained with external contact lists, and communiques can be sent en masse through these lists.
One of the most important mediums for corporate communication is the Internet. Websites are often the most public face of the company. Typically, the first place customers, prospective customers and suppliers turn to for information about a corporation is its web site. Web design is a unique multidisciplinary form of corporate communications, combining written work, visuals, and adding in a degree of functionality. Websites are used not just as a communications tool but also serve to facilitate the transaction of business as well.
In addition, computers are used for the internal Internet, or Intranet, wherein the same platform and technology used in external corporate communications is used to provide communications to internal users as well. This is an integral component in internal communications because the other main option, email, requires the user to be online at the time. With Intranet-based communication tools, internal users can access the information at all times.
II. Corporate Communications as a Career
There are many types of degrees that can prepare a person for a career in corporate communications. Naturally, a communications degree is a strong option. This degree familiarizes one with various forms of communication and the subtleties of the written word. Even more importantly, it teaches a person how to specifically and accurately reach their intended target audience with their communique. A communications degree helps one develop fluency in a number of different communication forms, and for a number of different purposes. The ability to smoothly transition between communication styles and purposes is a valuable asset to have when pursuing a career in corporate communications.
There are other degrees that a person can take to acquire the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the corporate communications field. A journalism degree gives a person strong writing skills and the ability to synthesize information into efficient bits suitable for mass communication. An English degree gives a person a strong understanding of the written word and language structure. A business degree (marketing is probably the best major) gives a person the familiarity with the everyday business terminology, and experience in writing n a corporate milieu.
Salaries in the field of corporate communications
According to Salaries.com, the median salary for a Communications Director is $121,798. At the low end, a position on www.indeed.comfor a business communications intern was listed at $32,000. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the mean for copy markers is around $30,000; for desktop publishers $37,000; public relations specialists nearly $56,000; public relations managers nearly $86,000.
Job descriptions sampling of job descriptions in the field from Monster.com shows that many communications positions are billed as writing jobs. Editing is another frequently cited component of jobs in the field. Some positions are more focused towards marketing, and these incorporate marketing strategy into the description, as well as graphics skills and Internet content management. Writing remains a key component whether the position is focused on internal or external communication.
III Corporate Website Comparison
For this comparison, I chose two similar entities at differing stages of professionalization in order to compare communications strategies. I selected two microbreweries, both considered leaders in sustainable business practices. One is New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., with a professional communications person; the other Crann g Ales, a tiny craft brewer in British Columbia with no professional communications staff. Both websites have the same communications goals - to tell the story about the beer, and educate the public about their sustainable business practices, which for both companies not only form a part of their corporate identity but also form part of their public relations and marketing strategies.
The New Belgium website is a professionally laid-out site that conveys both the corporate philosophy and the product line. The color scheme and layout design are strong, and the page sizes are small and digestible. The corporate section, which details the history of the company, is scant for a company with a compelling story to tell. This section, along with the sections on sustainable practices, appear to have been written by the founders. The lack of professionalism in the writing is evident in the inconsistent tone compared with the rest of the site. Moreover, the section on the company's achievements in sustainability is sloppy, with achievements listed off quickly. It makes for a tough read, moreso for readers unfamiliar with the basic technology and concepts. This section is small compared with the site, and tough to find. That is poor, given that this message is one of the most important things to New Belgium, and something for which they've received several press articles.
Other parts of the site appear more professionally written. The messages are simple - brief and with minimal industry-specific terminology. The overall presentation is a little bit lifeless in the way the message is basically a soft-sell. This is roughly in line with their corporate image but does not engage the reader to any great extent. The product descriptions generate a modest amount of desire. Due to legal considerations, there is limited opportunity to translate desire into action for a beer company as online sales are controlled, and New Belgium has too many accounts to list on their site.
For Crann g Ales, their website is a bit sloppier, but has stronger information. The color scheme is not at all engaging, nor is the layout. There is too much text on the first page, which reduces reader interest rather than piques it. The narrative on the beers is passable, but only conveys limited enthusiasm. The narrative on the sustainability practices, is far stronger than for New Belgium. The passion of the proprietors for sustainability shows through strongly in the loving, detailed descriptions of their practices. For this section, the interest level is high, and the enthusiasm conveys some desire in the part of the reader. In terms of action, there is a small section detailing accounts, but overall…