Communication studies is an interdisciplinary subject with various applications in journalism, radio, creative writing, marketing and media management, among others. Most careers in communications tend to be highly creative but also highly volatile. Corporate Communication is one the few areas that, in addition to engaging creative communication techniques, provides career stability too.
What is Corporate Communication?
Most corporate structures require a communication wing that handles all internal and external communication. Internal Communication of a company refers to the maintenance of a work culture and employee communications; it often interacts with Human Resources. Clear channels within the company, between the wings and their hierarchical structures are maintained through well-planned and thorough internal communication practices.
External communication usually refers to public relations (PR). Social media marketing and web content management are recent developments in this area. The PR department of most firms is responsible for a major chunk of the Corporate Communication responsibilities. The company media spokesperson is usually a part of this department. The PR professional is also given some HR duties, like arranging events for the employees.
Besides internal, government and media relations, Crisis Communication is among the primary responsibilities of a firm’s communications wing. Crisis Communication refers to communication practices that minimise threats to a company’s image, its employees and the public.
Recently, Nestlé had a PR nightmare after “Maggi Noodles” failed FDA’s food standard tests. In this case, Nestlé kept their customers informed about the situation via Twitter and subsequently recalled several batches of their product. Eventually, Nestlé did restore its brand name.
Other, more serious, crises such as a natural disaster or a fire have severe consequences that are to be dealt by the communications wing. The 26/11 attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai was a sensitive crisis with high stakes due to the nature of its threat to public safety. Harvard Business review, among other organisations, wrote to commend the hotel’s response to this crisis and praised its work culture and communications practices that helped minimise the damage and casualty.
In circumstances like these, announcements, press releases and clear communication channels within the company are required to face the crisis.
In addition to an excellent command over English, good inter-personal skills are a must for anyone who wishes to make it big in a corporate communication career. An average day of a communication professional is spent largely in dealing with people and networking; thus people skills are non-negotiable when it comes to communications. One must develop a passion for public speaking, writing and research in order to be satisfied in this industry. An in-depth understanding of social media, blogging platforms and search engine optimisation is preferred in candidates. Interdisciplinary skills in marketing and human resources also come in handy.
The primary prerequisite skill for any individual choosing this career is an ability to write; one must be able to express an idea with clarity and brevity to create impact. Besides having basic grammar and vocabulary skills, a Corporate Communication professional must be proficient in their industry-specific jargon.
An inherent interest in current affairs and trending stories will always add to any student’s potential, however, it is a requirement in this field. Being inquisitive and up-to-date with news creates a basic foundation for any PR/Corporate Communication professional. Other substitute skills include event management, lobbying and presentation skills. A certain level of expertise in film making, photography, and illustration is also appreciated by corporates.
Why study Corporate Communication?
Backed by digital reforms, the startup culture is growing in India and with it the need for corporate communication professionals is growing too. According to the Economic Survey of 2015-16, “The number of active investors in India increased from 220 in 2014 to 490 in 2015. As of December 2015, eight Indian startups belonged to the ‘Unicorn’ club (ventures that are valued at $1 billion and upwards).” With efforts being made to bring in foreign capital into the country, more companies are expected to open their base in India.
On the website of India PR and Corporate Communications Awards, Rashmi Soni, head of Corporate Communications at TATA Vistara writes, “This is a great time to be a communication practitioner in India. The world’s eyes are set on India’s vibrant consumer market replete with new brands, inspiring startup ventures, new acquisitions sprouting every day. With each development – strong communication strategy and novel marketing ideas are required to connect with the stakeholders.” Thanks to a growing nexus of businesses and shifting trends in media, communication is a growing field in the corporate world.
Where to study Corporate Communication?
Most students pursuing a Corporate Communication career first complete an undergraduate degree in Journalism, Mass Communication, English or Business Administration and then opt for a specialised post-graduation. The Indian Institute of Mass Communication offers a Post Graduate Diploma in Advertising and Public Relations. A course with the same title is offered at the School of Broadcasting & Communication, Mumbai; this is a Master’s Degree instead of a diploma. The Xavier Institute of Communications offers a specialised Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication.
According to payscale.com – an online salary/compensation information provider – a Corporate Communication manager earns an average salary of Rs.6, 22,095 per year. The survey and research website also states that experience is a big influencer in this field and adds to one’s salary dramatically. A company review and job search website, Glassdoor, conducts online surveys where employees submit their approximate salaries. A list with 13 anonymous submissions from Corporate Communication professionals (from companies including Wipro and Deloitte) records approximate salaries in this career. The lowest approximation is Rs.2, 88,000 per annum and the highest is Rs.36, 35,000 per annum.
—–Sharada Satapthy, a student from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore