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01 December 2020

Corporate communication: advantages and opportunities in brand communication

Channels, content and skills for managing corporate communication, the set of strategic activities required to create a brand's storytelling and convey it to all stakeholders.

A new upcoming event focuses on becoming familiar with the skills of the group's various business lines, through the course from "mashfrog digital youniversity": a series of webinars exploring some key areas that comprise part of the Group's commercial offer. This time we're giving the floor to Francesco Guarino, Digital Media Officer at the Mashfrog Group and responsible for the webinar on Corporate Communication. On the occasion of his talk, Francesco explained to us what corporate communication is, how to do it, and the advantages and risks involved. 

What is corporate communication?

To begin, Francesco takes his cue from an official definition of corporate communication from the Financial Times:

"The term corporate communication defines all the tasks of a team or office responsible for disseminating information to key stakeholders, executing the corporate strategy and developing messages addressed within and outside the organisation for a variety of different purposes."

More simply, corporate communication includes a series of activities through which a company or institution communicates its image, history and mission to customers, stakeholders and public opinion in general.

Why is it important?

There are some basic reasons why it is essential for a company to use corporate communication, which Francesco summarises as follows:

-    it gives the brand a defined identity
-    it conveys the values outside the company
-    it describes the mission and objectives
-    it interacts with, involves and retains customers and employees 
-    it helps manage complex and critical situations

Advantages

An effective corporate communication team can achieve major positive results for the company by: 

-    increasing brand awareness, so much so that its distinctive symbols can become a brand in their own right (as in the case of Nike, which often uses its logo instead of the brand name) 
-    improving brand reputation, using media channels (website, social networks) to describe their successes and tell the stories of people who work there
-    triggering an action/reaction mechanism, understood as the ability to deal with difficulties as rapidly as they appear
-    transforming the producer into the first informant, spreading news about their own success before it is published elsewhere
-    connecting successfully and positively with customers and stakeholders
-    improving profits by 30% thanks to adequate risk management, and obtaining a return on investment of +10% (data from Mediobanca/Cineas – Politecnico di Milano survey).

Risks

Of course, corporate communication done badly can lead to serious negative consequences for the company. The main risks of bad corporate communication are:

-    damage to the corporate image, both when you communicate badly and when you don't communicate at all
-    overexposure, as overloading the communications site and social media with posts induces the negative effect of abandonment or loss of interest from the audience
-    self-referentiality, a big problem for many companies that sing their own praises with phrases like "We are the best", which risk becoming grating
-    difficulty in climbing approval levels and meeting deadlines, especially in large companies where every piece of communication must be approved by various key figures
-    inability to provide adequate and timely responses, which occurs very often on social media, even for large companies
-    robotised information, linked to the previous point; so if you decide to interact with customers, either do it well or don't do it at all

The three worlds of corporate communication

Francesco divides external communication into three macro-worlds: 
1.    External communication
2.    Internal communication
3.    Social media communication
 

External communication is considered as the set of activities and communication flows relating to its mission and results or initiatives that the company addresses to a diverse external audience: customers, suppliers, stakeholders, press, public opinion, institutions, etc. The tools most commonly used to carry out this type of communication are: company website, press releases, newsletters, catalogues/brochures and corporate events.
 

Internal communication, on the other hand, refers to the set of information and employee engagement activities that aim to develop a shared corporate culture. In some cases, it may happen that information planned for internal dissemination actually enters external communication, causing these two spheres – normally so different – to align and in some contexts even coincide.

Finally, social media communication is considered a world unto itself, even if it is part of external communication, as it involves a different target depending on the social network used. For corporate communication, the two most used channels are Twitter and LinkedIn, but the use of newer social media like Instagram and TikTok is also growing.

The importance of tone of voice

The tone of voice you want to give a company must be in harmony with its corporate identity and define the character and personality associated with the brand. Depending on the medium used, the tone of voice must be different and modulated towards the needs and characteristics of the communication channel in question:

-    Website -institutional
-    Intranet - enthusiastic
-    Facebook - emotive
-    Twitter - informative
-    LinkedIn - professional
-    Instagram - evocative 

There's no strict rule that requires the use of these different tones of voice for each channel; however, it's a general indication that is useful for understanding how the same news can be communicated up to six different ways, while still addressing the same topic. 

The importance of a harmonious workflow

In the final part of his talk, Francesco explains the importance of organising work. Essentially, to have a harmonious and efficient flow of corporate communications, you need to organise and manage activities through a structured and effective workflow. In particular, this rigorous approach is necessary to control timings: in large companies especially, content (news, a press release, even a simple post for social media) often has to be approved by various top management/project leaders, who impact on the workflow even from outside it and risk slowing down processes. In these cases, having a clear view of deadlines and contacts is essential to comply with the preset publication times.