I am almost a third of the way through the online Master of Science in Communication program at Purdue University, and it did not take long before I started translating my newfound knowledge to my professional career. While all of the courses thus far are chock-full of concepts and strategies that are transferable to the business setting, the Seminar in Strategic Communication course provided me with the most real-world knowledge.
One of the primary concepts that the Seminar in Strategic Communication course instilled within me is the notion of corporate communication. According to Cornelissen (2014), “ Corporate communication focuses on the organization as a whole and the important task of how an organization is presented to all its key stakeholders, both internal and external” (p. 10). I learned that in order for an organization to remain profitable, reputable and legitimate in the eyes of its stakeholders, it is incumbent that corporate communication is aligned with the overall corporate strategy.
In light of this knowledge, I immediately started thinking about how the concept of organization-wide corporate communication could be translated to my current job. As a Marketing Content Manager, I am in charge of creating and disseminating marketing collateral to current and prospective customers. However, I soon noticed that the Marketing department is not the sole proprietor of content. The Human Resources department disseminates organization-specific communication to employees and prospective employees and the Sales department creates content for prospective and current clients.
I quickly realized that communicating in a business setting is much more dynamic and complex than one may think. In order to safeguard the company’s reputation and legitimacy, it’s imperative that all content, regardless of which functional department created it, is consistent with the organization’s mission and values. Therefore, I created a monthly content meeting that provides a forum for the various departments in charge of creating content to discuss strategy, collaborate and share ideas. The meeting invitation was also extended to the CEO so that he can provide input into how content can be tailored to align with the corporate strategy. While the meetings have yielded many innovative and new ideas, it definitely took some extra effort to convince the respective department personnel about the purpose and benefits of the meetings. The intended purpose of the meeting (devising strategy) “goes against strict ‘top-down’ views of strategy formation where strategy is seen to cascade down from the corporate to the business unit and ultimately to the functional level of corporate communication, with each level of strategy providing the immediate context for the next, ‘lower’ level of strategy making” (Cornelissen, 2014, p. 93).
Some of the tangible business benefits that have resulted from the meetings include an increase in communication from the human resource department to employees, unification between the sales and marketing department, and an increase in volunteerism and corporate social responsibility initiatives. In addition, the meetings have inculcated within the meeting participants the importance of a coherent and integrated corporate communication strategy. After all, corporate communication is the bedrock that supports the entire organization. According to Cornelissen (2014):
Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world's largest independent PR agency, highlights the strategic role of corporate communication as follows: 'we used to be the tail of the dog, but now communication is the organizing principle behind many business decisions’ (p. 5).
Cornelissen, J. (2014). Corporate communication: A Guide to Theory and Practice. London: SAGE Publications.
Jordan Bartlett is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.