Many businesses have departments that specifically handle their communications functions. A company's communication department functions include everything that pertains to communications: marketing, advertising, employee communications, public relations, investor relations and community/government relations.
In most organizations, the chief corporate communications officer will reside at the top of an organization chart, with the division heads — marketing, advertising, PR —reporting to that person. It can also be referred to as business communications or financial communications.
Communication to and Among Employees
Organizations distinguish their audiences as internal or external; employees are an internal audience. The types of communications that are used for addressing employees include personnel handbooks, intranets (websites that are private and for internal company use only), chat services (Slack, Skype, Discord and other instant messaging applications), announcements of personnel changes or benefits, important news such as financial reports or organization-wide changes.
Often, a company will inform its employees of announcements or news that are expected to be covered by the media. Other documents include media policies (how the company expects employees to handle media inquiries), employee directories and employee newsletters.
Communications for Investor Relations
Investor relations is an important part of public companies' corporate communications. Like employees, investors are considered an internal audience, as they have a particular stake in a company's financial security.
Communications to investors include annual reports, quarterly updates, stock news, market analysis, board of trustees meeting minutes and financial reporting. A corporate communications office might also send its investors industry updates, which can include media coverage the company has received — negative or positive — and updates on what the competition is doing and how the company compares.
Communication Through Marketing
Marketing is an important tool for every organization — business or health care, nonprofit or retail. In a corporate communications office, marketing addresses external audiences such as consumers and clients. Marketing plays an integral role; this function is responsible for putting the face on a company's products or services. It defines how the company portrays itself publicly, whether that be on its website, product packaging, logo, messages or advertising.
A corporate communications office will devote a great deal of time and most likely a separate staff to handle marketing since it can directly affect financial success.
Communication and Government Relations
Government relations is another piece of a corporate communications strategy that involves external audiences. These audiences can include as lawmakers, lobbyists, watchdog groups and, of course, the government itself. Communications departments that spend time dealing with government relations usually will delegate this role to a specialized individual or team. A government relations professional will need to have extensive knowledge of government processes, have relationships with key lawmakers and understand how to work with lobbyists.
A company might even employ a lobbyist to represent its interests and try to influence decision makers. Examples of communications include materials outlining a company's industry and needs, and the effect certain laws might have.
Focus on Corporate Communication
Employee communications, investor relations, marketing and government relations are all examples of the types of corporate communications a company will focus on. Depending on the size of the company or the industry a company is in, corporate communications might include additional areas. A company might focus on one are of communication more than another. It depends on how the company is structured and what the corporate communications department's priorities are.
B.J. Huber has worked in the public relations profession for more than 15 years, directing communications efforts in in health care institutions, nonprofit organizations and educational groups. She holds a B.A. in English, as well as an M.A. in mass communication and public relations.