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What is Corporate Communications?

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.

February 17, 2023

9 min read


Within large corporations, corporate communications departments provide effective branding, engagement and perception management that is targeted toward various stakeholder communities. Or in simpler terms, it’s the various methods that an organization uses to communicate with both its internal and external audiences. 


The typical corporate communications department is staffed by professionals who manage marketing, media relations, crisis communications and management, internal communications and other internal and external communications functions.


If you are interested in pursuing a corporate communications career, read on to learn more about the purpose and functions of the typical communications department and take a detailed look at a few of the career opportunities available in the multifaceted field of communications.

What is the Purpose of a Communications Department?

The overall goal of any communications department typically involves increasing sales or profitability, bolstering or repairing a company or brand’s reputation, increasing loyalty among its customers and accomplishing other important long- and short-term objectives.

The 3 major branches of corporate communication—management communication, marketing communication and organizational communication—work in an organized fashion to maintain a carefully coordinated effort that includes public relations, marketing, crisis communication and management, and internal communications.

Public Relations

Public relations (PR), sometimes referred to as media relations or external affairs, is the art and science of perception management. The PR department is responsible for shaping, polishing and defending the company’s image, cultivating relationships with media contacts to gain opportunities for earned (unpaid) media exposure and disseminating news about the company and its brands, services and people. Depending on the size of the company and the scale of its communications program, the PR department could be staffed by one person or several professionals with specific duties.


Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for consumers, clients, partners and society at large. 

Operating under the marketing communications branch of corporate communications, the marketing department is responsible for creating awareness that moves the company’s products or services into the hands of those consumers, while continually exploring new ways to increase sales and profitability. The department does this by planning and executing campaigns that will target consumers to stimulate sales in a B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business) environment. Executions may include digital and traditional media advertisements, email campaigns, content marketing and storytelling, trade show and conference exhibits, sponsorships, consumer rebates or other incentives.

Crisis Communication and Management

While most of the communications department’s activities are proactive, crisis communications is an area that is mostly reactive. Crisis communications, a specialty within the realm of public relations, is devoted to managing an organization’s response to a catastrophic event. This could be a sudden and unpredictable event, such as a cyberattack or product recall, or it could be a semi-predictable event, such as a major winter storm or ongoing public health crisis. 

The consequences of such events can include serious damage to the company or brand’s reputation, interruptions in its operations or loss of revenue. Because there is so much at stake, organizations routinely develop crisis management strategies and employ specialists in this much-needed area to maintain readiness, ensure a well-coordinated response and enable a swift recovery. 

Internal Communications

Internal communication is the set of processes by which an organization communicates within itself. Why is this important? The lines between external and internal audiences have become somewhat blurred, primarily as the result of the consumer being empowered in unique ways. 

Social media allows any employee, no matter what rung they might occupy on the corporate ladder, to have a very public voice. Employees—including the ones on the front lines who have the most contact with customers—have family, friends and social media followers whom they can easily influence to the benefit or detriment of a company’s reputation. If employees are well informed about the company’s core values and the tone it uses to speak to its consumers, they may be more likely to maintain that tone and correctly reference the company in social media posts. They can only be armed with this knowledge if the company has formed an effective internal communications strategy.

Careers in Corporate Communications

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment in the broad category of media and communication occupations is expected to grow 6% on a national level between 2021 and 2031.1 This increase is expected to result in about 68,600 new jobs over that period.

The BLS reports a slightly higher growth projection for employment of public relations specialists at 8% over the same period, which is faster than the average for all occupations with about 22,300 new job openings expected by 2031.2

If you’re considering pursuing a career in corporate communications, here are a few of the roles you might consider:

Corporate Communications Specialist

Corporate communications specialists perform a variety of tasks to help their organizations communicate effectively with various stakeholder communities, which may involve media relations, investor relations, content creation and other duties in support of the company’s strategies. This multi-tasking professional’s responsibilities may include:

  • Researching and creating content, such as website copy and articles for the company’s blog, email campaigns and other external communication platforms.

  • Writing news releases and coordinate media events, such as press conferences.

  • Working with internal team members to brainstorm content ideas that support the company’s strategy and are in harmony with its branding.

  • Sticking to the company’s editorial style guide and corporate identity standards to ensure compliant, accurate and error-free content.

  • Supporting communications campaigns and analyzing their results. 

Marketing Communications Specialist

Marketing communications specialists wear many hats as they perform a variety of duties related to an organization's marketing and communications strategies and product promotions. They are frequently called upon to create compelling and innovative content for their organization’s various digital marketing efforts or social media channels. Their duties may include:

  • Writing and assisting with the development of promotional materials.

  • Managing and editing content on the organization’s website.

  • Maintaining the company’s social media accounts and posting content to those channels.

  • Analyzing consumer data and gauging the effectiveness of marketing efforts by tracking conversion rates, customer satisfaction and other metrics.

  • Creating presentations for use by sales teams or company executives.

Media Relations Coordinator

Media relations coordinators, alternatively referred to as public relations coordinators, perform a variety of functions related to an organization’s public image. Individuals in this role are expected to have strong communication skills as they participate in the creation of publications, social media posts, videos and other executions. Typical duties include:

  • Collaborating with the marketing team to execute campaigns based on strategic initiatives.

  • Preparing press releases, tracking media coverage and organizing media events, such as press conferences.

  • Analyzing public relations campaigns and reporting to management as to their effectiveness. 

  • Creating content for marketing executions such as videos, social media posts, newsletters and brochures.

Crisis and Emergency Communications Specialist

While they may require similar education and skills, public relations and crisis communications are different roles that have some pretty important differences.

The crisis communications specialist’s primary objective is to protect the image that public relations professionals work to build up. As mentioned earlier, without a carefully prepared and flawlessly executed crisis communications plan, the consequences of a crisis could be serious. Crisis communications specialists typically also need to have experience in media relations and may be required to undergo specialized training or certification in this area.

The duties of a crisis and emergency communications specialist or crisis manager include:

  • Developing and managing the organization’s crisis communications strategies, which may involve identifying risks and vulnerabilities, collaborating with partners in other corporate departments (such as legal or investor relations) and establishing early monitoring systems.

  • Effectively communicating with team members and identifying problems that could impact the execution of the crisis communications strategy.

  • Leading the crisis management team, communicating with employees and shareholders and serving as the organization’s media spokesperson to maintain a positive public image during a crisis response.

  • Conducting a post-crisis review and making recommendations for strategic improvements.

Education Needed to Pursue a Career in Corporate Communications

If you’re planning to pursue a career in corporate communications in a marketing communications, public relations or similar role, occupational outlook information provided by the BLS indicates that you will need at least a bachelor’s degree for many occupations in this field, though requirements will vary from employer to employer. 

At DeVry, our Bachelor’s Degree in Business Communications can help prepare you to pursue a number of communications or marketing roles, including the ones described here. Learn how to communicate with confidence, clarity and credibility in a program that emphasizes internal and external communication and covers various types of media and delivery techniques, including writing, sales and marketing and more.  

Important Skills for Corporate Communications Professionals

If you work in corporate communications, your overall responsibility will be to help your organization engage with stakeholders such as consumers, investors, manufacturing or licensing partners and government or regulatory agencies. To do this effectively, you’ll need to use a variety of creative, journalistic, critical thinking and technical skills.

The employment website Indeed recommends that you focus on developing the following skills:

  • Writing: As a corporate communications professional, you may be required to do more writing than you would in other occupations, and be equally comfortable with long-form storytelling and short-form social media posts. On a daily basis, your writing assignments may include emails, articles, website copy, social media posts, and other executions, sometimes under tight deadlines and demanding conditions.

  • Public speaking: Put any fear of public speaking well behind you, as this job requires you to be comfortable making in-person presentations to internal and external groups of different types and sizes. If you are required to act as your company’s media spokesperson, you will also have to be comfortable appearing on camera, delivering the organization’s key messages with confidence and responding to questions from reporters.

  • Research skills: When writing articles, social media posts, blog posts and other content targeted to external audiences, you will likely be required to search for reliable information sources that will inform the content you create.

  • Technical skills: Understanding new technologies and how they’re used in areas like digital marketing, project management, search engine optimization and audience measurement may help make you more effective in your communications role. 

Prepare to Pursue Your Corporate Communications Career

If you have a passion for communications in all its forms and want to turn it into a career, we can help you prepare to pursue your goals. 

Our Bachelor’s Degree with a Specialization in Business Communications can help enhance your skills in areas like written and verbal communications, research, interviewing, marketing strategies and tactics and product sales and demonstration. This online program can be completed in as little as 2 years and 8 months, or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits.* Classes start every 8 weeks. Let’s talk about how you can get started in our next session.

*Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment.
1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location.
2Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location.

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