For decades now, corporate communication practitioners have struggled to gain attention from the top/senior management. Many organizational leaders are skeptical about the role of corporate communication in enhancing organisational performance.
Corporate communication is the management of the organisational perception which can be influenced by all internal and external information (message of communication) means and measures.
I have worked for the past 14 years in industry as corporate communications capo and I have realized that in many management meetings corporate communication practitioners continuously face the challenge in justifying their worth –often in monetary terms.
Consequently, many PR practitioners face inferiority complex and their roles gain less attention from the top management. For example, in the 1998 Malaysian economic downturn, many organisations experienced budget cuts, which mostly affected their corporate communication and public relations departments.
Additionally, the recent European economic crisis had also affected the public relations profession whereby, half of all public relations professionals suffered from budget cuts and almost a quarter faced staff reduction (Moreno, Verhoeven, Tench & Zerfass, 2010).
Sadly enough, budget cuts do not only affect corporate communication programmes, they also downsize the number of staff at the department. Most often than not, and sadly, executive management believe corporate communication has not contributed to financial outcomes or monetary worth to the companies. Does Corporate communicators, contribute to organizational performance and deserve better recognition and attention by senior management? My answer is a big YES.
What I think PR practitioners should be doing is to rebrand themselves and focus more on enhancing and developing themselves by acquiring knowledge and desist from the era where they just run around doing protocol for their bosses and organizing press conferences. By upgrading themselves and contributing to strategy development, they will be recognized and gain seat at the very top of the organizational hierarchy.
Today, corporate communication practitioners are expected to manage extremely complex and varied operations of an organisation. They should be knowledgeable in the business related activities and areas like advertising, marketing, information systems and research, in addition to other conventional roles relating to public relations activities.
I think and as it is the believed of many scholars, strategic action should be taken by professional managers to establish and maintain favorable and coherent corporate communication practices across different stakeholder groups. This, should be, the main objective for strategic communication and PR practitioners should communicate effectively and advocate a positive attitude among workers. With this they would be contributing to profitability by encouraging and motiving staff to give off their best.
The most important corporate communication management function provides a potential route for competitive advantage for the organization, since corporate communication entails selectively communicating the strategic organisation’s views and objectives to stakeholders whom it regards as important, Corporate Communication Management can therefore, be regarded as a key management strategy. Its role as a strategic management function grows significantly especially when dealing with corporate management issues.
Obviously, the greatest challenge to the organisation system today is “the pressure from various constituencies and stakeholders such as shareholders, the media, financial analysts, and the labour force itself” since the stakeholders are becoming more educated and demanding. Many scholars have established a link between corporate communication and management. Recent studies have also confirmed corporate communication as a strategic management function.
A management function plays a key role in the development and maintenance of corporate communication for overseeing and coordinating works in different disciplines such as public affairs, media relations and internal communication
Therefore, “the dissemination and alignment of the core ideology of the company to the communication process and activities is vital to achieve a favourable public exposure”. In a business setting, corporate communication practitioners have to deal with stakeholders’ perceptions toward gaining competitive advantages for the organisations.
In order to play a strategic management role, it is suggested that the corporate communication practitioner of an organisation be placed at the top management level. At this point internal and external communication can be integrated to promote effective corporate communication. It also must be accepted as an integral part of an organisation’s management team in order to participate effectively in organisational decision making and be part of a company’s dominant coalition. Relocation of corporate communication at the top management level will emphasize its role as an ‘umbrella for the variety of communication forms and formats.
This article focuses on the management role of corporate communication that can be
controlled internally by the company. The controllable functions of corporate communications, include managing public relations, employee communication, investor relations and corporate advertising. These also involve communications with internal stakeholders (i.e. employees), and also external stakeholders (i.e. media, customers and government) that can be managed and controlled directly. Despite corporate communications functions being manageable, uncontrollable communication such as informal communication between employees with outsiders and third party reports cannot be directly managed but can be influenced through an effective Corporate Communication Management programme.
Lack of communication is the cause of breakdowns in inter-organisational relationships. As iterated earlier, communication plays an important role in organizational success. Empirical evidence reveals that communication is positively correlated with organisational performance variables such as job performance.
In addition, variables such as individual performance, organisational performance and organisational productivity may also have positive effects on organisational performance.
To overcome this struggle facing corporate communication practitioners, corporate
communication practitioners must be able to demonstrate that their Corporate Communication Management effort is worthwhile and significantly effective to financial performance. Forman and Argenti (2005) suggest research focused on Corporate Communications Management outcomes, which might include the effect on sales or increase in product and services.
Furthermore, the Corporate Communications Management function should place the logic underlying economic values with the implementation of a public relations programme. Apart from financial performance, Corporate Communication also contributes toward non-financial explanatory variables especially mission achievement employee productivity environmental, strategic, and formal and informal organisational factors. Meanwhile, according to Porter (1985) non-financial organisational performance measurement can be examined from three perspectives, namely, management, human resource and marketing. The variables commonly used in measuring organisational performance in marketing relates to mission achievement, market share, product quality, sources of competitive advantage and industry structure.
Dr. Ike Tandoh is a management consultant and holds Ph.D in marketing communications. He is the founder and lead management consultant for 1PR Communications. 1PR Communications is dedicated to providing quality training and management support services to organizations and Individuals that seeks to attain excellence and develop their brands. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Blue Crest University. Email:[email protected] Tel: 0501278530
A version of this article first appeared in Business and Financial Times paper on Nov. 24, 2017