What Is Corporate Communications and Why Is It Essential for NZ Businesses?

Fleur Revell Auckland Corporate Communications Expert
Fleur Revell – Auckland Corporate Communications Specialist

For New Zealand businesses operating in a mercurial macro environment having a sound corporate communications is essential to maintaining relationships with your stakeholders. Impact PR’s Fleur Revell, a public relations specialist who has worked with numerous multinationals talks about the role communications plays in business success.

Corporate communications 101:

By definition, corporate communications refers to the internal and external communication that exists between various audiences a brand interacts with. These audiences are far-reaching and include customers and potential customers, employees, key stakeholders, media and the general public, government agencies and third party regulators. 

Finding synergy with corporate communications is all about building a relationship with your audience. Public relations – and an effective corporate communications agency – is rooted in the desire to build this relationship now and into the future and create a positive impression for your brand both with your target audience and wider society. 

While advertising and social media marketing can help build credibility to your audience, if a product you sell malfunctions, a single dissatisfied customer can wreak merry havoc in the media – and social media or advertising will never cut it to mend a damaged reputation. This is when corporate communications comes into play. 

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Impact PR is well versed in corporate communications and knows how to mitigate damage to your reputation in a fast, effective manner. Because knowing how to approach your audience and make the right impression at a critical time is what PR is all about. By helping you build a strategy that transcends all your communication channels – including media itself – personal apologies and explanations can be communicated through media to your audience in a quick, intimate way. 

Why public relations?

Not just a pretty face, public relations extends to media relations, investor relations, government relations, internal relations, community relations and marketing communications. At its core, public relations is all about maintaining positive brand image and perspective in people’s minds for a specific brand. By utilising both direct and indirect means to communicate to the target audience, public relations enables effective, persuasive dialogue that focuses on maintaining a favourable reputation for an organisation and its brands. 

Public relations vs corporate communications:

Key differences that exist between everyday public relations and corporate communications include communication, breadth of work and knowledge base. 

Communication: 

Corporate communications typically addresses internal conversations in an organisation. A key part of this is interdepartmental communications, communication to employees, stakeholders, investors and executive team .

Public relations generally communicates with the public outside the organisation. Liaising with journalists, the media, pitches, social media, events – is all a part of public relations.

Breadth of work:

Corporate communications: Inside knowledge is key to an effective corporate communications agency – with the ability to connect every department in an organisation through internal communications such as employee newsletters, intranet, blogs and more. It is essential for a corporate communications agency to be able to effectively communicate an organisation’s agenda with varying levels of disclosure relevant to different employees. 

Public relations: A public relations professional will focus on managing an organisation’s reputation by drafting and disseminating newsworthy stories to the media, journalists, corporate events and through relevant marketing channels.

A public relations team is responsible for any backlash when a company is faced with a crisis in their reputation. They act as key spokesperson for the company, communicating with the public on behalf of the organisation. An effective corporate communications agency will possess the ability to work in a fast-paced environment with priorities that ebb and flow at a moment’s notice.

Knowledge base:

Corporate communications teams make it their job to know everything about the organisation including next steps, how employees perceive the organisation, what is being said about the firm internally as well as staying abreast of any interdepartmental conflicts. 

Public relations teams need a keen eye for the latest trends – and be able to use those trends to promote the organisation in a manner that generates publicity. Bonus points for PR professionals who are also news junkies. 

Bottom line – an effective corporate communications agency needs to be across the public opinion of an organisation – and communicate this internally. 

What to expect from corporate communications:

Media and public relations:

In short, corporate communications includes public relations, but public relations doesn’t include every function of corporate communication. When it comes to media and public relations, corporate communications deals directly with how a company communicates with the general public and media. Conducting news conferences, interviews, and product launches are a significant part of media and public relations. This also includes creating materials within the same arena, such as banners and flyers. Writing and distributing press releases to media is another direct hit to garner attention.

Effectively managing the news and conversation in the media regarding brands, product, organisation, key employees and members of management is essential, alongside crafting strategies to rework negative coverage into favourable press. 

Customer communication and marketing:

Once seen as a separate entity, the lines continue to blur between customer comms and marketing, with communication adopted by a brand for itself often translated into its marketing strategy, and vice-versa. This communication can take the form of marketing emails, brochures, newsletters, blogs and social media strategy.

Crisis communication:

If an organisation faces a crisis or unforeseen event that has the power to damage their reputation, a corporate communications agency assumes the role of responsibility to address the issue in a timely, responsible manner. This is typically done with the assistance of expert professionals outside the company and can include communication with attorneys, politicians, government, emergency responders etc., as well as advising company representatives on what and how to communicate with media during news briefings and interviews. 

In addition, promptly responding to a communication crisis, by holding a press conference and interviews can help mitigate negative perception about your brand effectively and instantly.

The definition of a crisis may shift across different organisations – the overall objective is to ensure the company is untainted – along with making certain that the company’s business doesn’t suffer losses. 

Internal communication:

Internal comms in an organisation is typically a collaborative effort between HR and corporate communications. It can include activities such as drafting memos and emails regarding company updates, news and initiatives, creating printed materials such as employee handbooks etc, putting together employee resources like employee benefits, managing internal blogs newsletters, and other relevant communication content.

What you’ll get out of corporate communications:

Street cred:

Being seen as an honest and reliable brand in the eyes of your customers is what helps you stay successful and impactful in the long run. Carefully crafting articles to post in targeted industry trade journals and publications is a proven way to build brand character and credibility.

Given audiences are bombarded with advertising on a daily basis, they tend to ignore most of it – appearing in a publication or being quoted in an article is far more effective, with your audience secure in the knowledge you weren’t paid for the feature. 

Love and trust:

If your organisation or brand is consistently featured in the media through positive channels, with newsworthy and positive stories about your brand out in the media, the public will in turn see you as a reputable, credible brand that can be trusted.

Up the ante with brand awareness

Corporate communications is a pivotal way to get your brand in front of potential customers. If you have an effective corporate communications agency, your organisation’s story will be picked up by a number of media networks, giving you wider reach and more extensive coverage for your brand, adding the familiarity factor to your brand and product for your desired audience. 

Given public relations is typically earned – not paid for – it is cheaper than traditional advertising channels and in some cases digital advertising techniques.

Promote customer relations

A PR campaign that has been well thought out will help your organisation achieve your goals, while simultaneously building a positive outlook for your company. An effective corporate communications PR campaign will consider the internal as well as external public of an organisation and build a favourable impression of the brands across both platforms.

Positive customer relations are the essence to maintain and build lasting relationships with existing and potential customers. 

Final word:

Every organisation needs a mix of corporate communications and public relations working in synergy to communicate effectively with the people who matter. Internal communications is equally important to external comms with media and customers. 

Corporate communications is critical for any business organisation to stand out against their competitors, steer clear of any negative perception toward its brand, nurture existing client relations and build new ones efficiently.

If you have questions about corporate communications, contact us today – we would love to help.

About Fleur Revell, Impact PR Corporate Communications Expert: 

An award-winning former journalist with more than 25 years media experience as a television presenter, reporter, producer, newspaper journalist, magazine editor, radio host, newspaper journalist and PR practitioner. 

During her tenure as one of the country’s most experienced PR professionals, Fleur has been responsible for the development and implementation of key corporate communications programmes. This work has included media training, community and stakeholder engagement, media relations, reputation management, issues management and lobbying.

Mark Devlin

Mark Devlin

Director at Impact PR
Mark Devlin is a dynamic Auckland entrepreneur who provides PR counsel for some of the world’s most recognisable brands. With more than 20 years in public relations and marketing, Mark has an impressive portfolio of clients who trust him with their brands.