Like many terms within the realm of public relations, there is a difference of opinion over the definition of ‘corporate communication’ depending on who you talk to. With some viewing it as consistency of messages across all communication, whilst others argue that, as the communication of individuals can’t be controlled, it’s about facilitating diversity and listening.
Taking both opinions into consideration, there are a few elements that you can apply to your own corporate communications: engage transparently with your stakeholders, communicate meaningful and authentic values, and consistently behave in line with these values to build social capital and legitimacy.
Essentially, what this means is that your corporate communication relates to the communication of your company’s values, as opposed to what your business offers its consumers. By establishing this differentiation between marketing communication being for your consumers, and corporate communication being aimed at your other publics and stakeholders, it identifies your corporate communication strategy as addressing your reputation, image and relationship management.
Your social capital boils down to how you manage your relationships with every type of public bar your consumers. This covers everyone that your company interacts with, from the community and media, to suppliers, internal publics (employees) and even your competitors.
Social capital is a valuable commodity for building trust, relationships and reputation. For businesses, your corporate social responsibility, along with perceived trustworthiness can have a high impact on your social capital. How you engage with your publics and manage those relationships also factors into maintaining your social capital on an ongoing basis.
The concept of legitimacy relates to what society perceives as normal, and is addressed through the management of your corporate image and reputation. To be successful in building and sustaining the legitimacy of your company, it’s important to be transparent and authentic in your communications. Having and following authentic values will also help your publics and stakeholders’ impressions of you align with your own perceptions. Whilst having a strong
corporate culture is a further factor in successful reputation management that’s worth adding to your corporate communication strategy.
When addressing any aspect of corporate communication, it’s worthwhile stepping away from a ‘top-down’ approach that only includes senior management viewpoints. Instead, by involving a diverse range of stakeholders, both external and internal and at different levels, you will not only resonate with more publics and stakeholders overall, but you’re more likely to create a clear identity that doesn’t exclude any of your stakeholders. It will also result in a corporate identity that closely aligns with your stakeholders’ perceptions, promoting clear and consistent communications, whilst establishing shared values too.
And don’t forget, communication affects every aspect of your business, so your corporate values should have an impact on your corporate strategies going forwards too.
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