Many businesses have departments that handle their communications functions. These departments may be responsible for 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.
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), announcements of personnel changes or benefits, important news such as financial reports or organizationwide 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.
Investor relations is an important part of public companies' corporate communications. Like employees, investors are considered an internal audience, since 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.
Marketing is an important tool for every organization—business or health care, nonprofit or retail. In a corporate communications office, marketing addresses external audiences—consumers and clients. Marketing plays an integral role; this function is responsible for "putting the face" on a company's offerings and products and itself. It defines how the company portrays itself publicly—on its website, product packaging, logo, messages and 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.
Government relations is another piece of a corporate communications strategy that involves external audiences—lawmakers, lobbyists, watchdog groups and, of course, the government itself. Communications departments that spend time on 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.
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 more than another. It depends on how the company is structured and what the corporate communications department's priorities are.