Corporate communications departments play a key role in how investors, employees and the general public perceive a company. They often report directly to a company’s chief executive officer and serve as advisers in managing a company’s reputation. They help leaders prepare for media interviews, develop messages to deliver to investors and employees and suggest new initiatives to keep companies on the cutting edge of communication with their stakeholders.
This may be the function for which corporate communication managers are best known. Media relations work includes writing and distributing news releases and responding to media inquiries. Corporate communicators oversee all planning for news conferences, including selecting the site for an event, arranging for banners and other graphics to be displayed at the event, preparing packets of information to distribute to the media and preparing executives to speak at news conferences. Media relations also involves arranging for spokespersons to appear on local television and radio programs. Corporate communicators monitor newspapers, television news broadcasts and other outlets to see what the media is saying about the company and to devise strategies to address misinformation.
Building relationships with customers and responding to inquiries from the public fall under the public relations function of corporate communications. Duties in this area include producing newsletters, brochures and other printed materials designed for the general public. Corporate communicators also manage a company’s website and social media presence, which includes monitoring what customers and clients are saying about the company on social networking websites and responding to inaccurate posts or requests for information. Communication professionals may respond directly to calls and emails from citizens and customers with questions about a company’s plans or activities. They arrange for speakers from the company to make presentations to local community groups and may facilitate group tours of a company’s operations.
When an event occurs that threatens public safety or a company’s reputation, corporate communicators function as advisers to CEOs and senior leaders in managing the crisis. Special training in the issues unique to crisis communication helps corporate communicators prepare for events such as chemical spills, violence in the workplace, an accidental death on the job, layoff announcements and allegations of company wrongdoing. They often work with staff throughout their organizations to develop crisis communication plans before disaster strikes. A crisis may require communications staff to work with attorneys, government regulators, political officials, emergency response personnel and communications staff from other companies when developing crisis messages.
In addition to conveying a company’s messages to external audiences, corporate communicators may also be called on to function as employee communications managers, which includes designing printed publications and writing emails to announce company news, benefits information and training opportunities. Corporate communicators may facilitate focus groups to learn what issues matter most to front-line employees. They advise senior leaders on how to improve relationships with their staff and gain support for their initiatives. The corporate communications staff may also manage a company’s Intranet and internal blogs.