Corporate Communication

Transformation of Strategy and Practice

by Michael B. Goodman (Author) Peter B. Hirsch (Author)
©2020 Textbook XIV, 164 Pages


The forces of uncertainty, globalization, the networked enterprise, Web 2.0, privacy, "big data," and shifting demographics have dramatically transformed corporate communication strategy and practice. Now more than ever, it is more complex, strategic, and essential to the organization’s survival. Corporate Communication: Transformation of Strategy and Practice examines, analyzes, and illustrates the practice of corporate communication as it changes in response to increasing global changes. It builds on the authors’ 2010 Corporate Communication: Strategic Adaptation for Global Practice, as well as their 2015 Corporate Communication: Critical Business Asset for Strategic Global Change.
This book analyzes and illuminates the major communication needs in rapidly evolving organizations: the contemporary communication environment; the importance and impact of intangibles—corporate sustainability, identity, culture, valuation, crisis prevention; the transformation of the media environment; the transformation of the concept of decision-making; the importance of demographics and multigenerational audiences; and technical, geopolitical, economic, and socio-cultural uncertainty. These are significant forces that can potentially augment or diminish an organization’s value.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This ebook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Tables
  • Sidebars
  • Appendices
  • CHAPTER 1 Introduction
  • 1.1   What to Expect in this Book
  • Background for this Book
  • References
  • CHAPTER 2 The Corporate Communication Environment
  • 2.1 Elements of the Contemporary Corporate Communication Environment
  • 2.2 Development of the Corporate Communication Practice
  • Primary Authors for this Section
  • 2.3 Corporate Communication Development as a Strategic Management Function
  • Primary Authors for this Section
  • 2.4 CCI Corporate Communication Practices and Trends 1999–2017
  • Primary Authors for this Section
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 3 The Importance and Impact of Intangibles—Corporate Sustainability, Identity, Culture; Valuation, Relationships, Crisis Prevention
  • 3.1 How Sustainability Works
  • 3.2 Importance of Corporate Identity
  • 3.3 A resurgence in the discussion of corporate culture: Behaviors and words; Values and beliefs; The lifecycle of an organization
  • 3.4 Valuation Changes, IR, and Branding; Plain Language and Valuation; Communication Dos and Don’ts
  • 3.5 The Impact of Shallow Alliances and Loyalties as a Result of Digital Relationships
  • 3.6 Crisis Prevention and Mitigation, Crisis Response, and Crisis Recovery Can Build or Destroy an Organization’s Reputation
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 4 Information Sources, Channels and Digital Media
  • 4.0 Information Sources, Channels, and Digital Media
  • 4.1 Transformation of the Media Environment—New Opportunities; New Risks
  • 4.2 Trusted Sources for Information
  • 4.3 Research Goals Grounded in Reality and Truth
  • Access to Information Sources and Services Is Changing
  • 4.4 Alignment of Research Strategy with What Is Said and What Is Done; Words with Deeds
  • 4.5 Barriers to Truth and Trust
  • 4.6 Education holds the Keys to Successful Communication in a Democracy, Particularly in an Environment of Democratized Media
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 5 Transformation of the Concept of Decision-making
  • 5.1 Big Data, the Internet of Things, and Alterative Data Change the Ethical Decision-making Process
  • The Importance of Ethics for Corporate Communication
  • The Trolley Problem—The Thought Experiment in Ethical Decision-making
  • Foundational Concepts of Ethical Decision-making
  • Ethical Decision-making Process
  • Companies Train for Ethical Behavior and to Avoid Unethical Behavior
  • 5.2 The Opportunities Opened, and the Limitations Imposed, on Strategy and Practice by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • 4.2 The Opportunities and Limitations of Big Data
  • 5.3 Behavioral Science Offers New Research Tools and Techniques that Influence the Methods and Means for Corporate Communication
  • The Hawthorne Effect
  • 5.4 Determining Whether Decisions Are Rational or Emotional
  • Characteristics of Rational Decision-making
  • Limits of Choosing Rationally
  • 5.5 How Daniel Kahneman’s Theories in his Book Thinking Fast and Slow Change How We Think about Decision-making
  • 5.6 The Importance of the Capability to Detect False Information—“Crap”—in the Contemporary Environment
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 6 The Importance of Demographics and Multigenerational Audiences
  • 6.0 The Importance of Demographics and Multigenerational Audiences
  • 6.1 Generational Labels Simultaneously Obfuscate and Clarify Understanding for Corporate Communication
  • The Millennials as a Market
  • Millennials at Work
  • Millennials and Social Media Business Models
  • Gen Z Next Up at Work and as a Market
  • 6.2 How Educational, Class, and Economic Factors Work in this Environment
  • Educational Importance for the Current and Future Work Environment
  • Socioeconomic Status, Education, and Class
  • 6.3 Gender, Ethnicity, and National Origin Complicate Communication for Corporations
  • Understanding Gender Based Issues
  • Understanding Racial Issues and Discrimination
  • Understanding Religious Issues and Discrimination
  • Understanding National Origin and Discrimination
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 7 Uncertainty—Nothing Is Forever
  • 7.1 Impact of Technological Uncertainty
  • 7.2 Impact of Geopolitical Uncertainty
  • 7.3 Importance of Economic Uncertainty
  • Economic Uncertainty and Technological Uncertainty
  • Verification
  • Democratization
  • Data Privacy and Security
  • Transparency
  • Creepiness
  • 7.4 Influence of Socio-cultural Uncertainty
  • Radical Change
  • Vocal Activism
  • Quiet Engagement
  • Strict Neutrality
  • Summary
  • References
  • CHAPTER 8 Looking Around Corners
  • Summary
  • References
  • Appendix 1.1: CCI Corporate Communication Practices and Trends Online Survey Instrument
  • Appendix 1.2: CCI Corporate Communication Practices and Trends Interview Questions
  • Sources and Further Reading
  • Websites
  • Contributors
  • Index



The Chief Communication Officer of a Fortune 50 Corporation, in response to the interview question about how corporate communication contributes to the overall success of the organization, said

… reputation is your license to do business … We do help to protect that license to do business, enhance it … We also create opportunity for commercial success by telling the story about the outcomes that we produce with our products, our people, our services. We create additional commercial opportunities … We also help to build the network of stakeholders. We engage with the world. I like to call it the engaged enterprise. We create the relationships that ultimately can help you be successful. (CCI Study, 2015)

In The New CCO, The Arthur W. Page Society observes:

The Chief Communications Officer (CCO) … is at a critical inflection point. The environment in which enterprises operate is fraught with challenges: emerging competitors reinventing traditional business models; changing demographic, regulatory and sociopolitical conditions; new modes of work; and an ongoing paradigm shift in how individuals engage with one another and with organizations. Spurred by these changes and enabled by social media, stakeholder groups have become more empowered, emboldened and organized. Evolution of the enterprise in the face of these new realities is required, and CCOs increasingly will be central to guiding these changes. (The New CCO: Transforming Enterprises in a Changing World, p. 5)

CCI—Corporate Communication International—has conducted research on the leading practices of corporate communication officers for almost two decades. The goal of each of the CCI studies was to outline and analyze the state of the art for corporate communication practice in publicly-traded, multinational companies.

←1 | 2→

Background on The CCI Studies: The first CCI study in 2000 focused on publicly traded companies for several reasons. First, information in such companies is public and more readily accessible.

Second, public companies are in the vanguard of corporate practices because of

the pressures of the capital markets

their need to respond to the media

the realities of the global marketplace.

And finally, public companies have a greater understanding that their “license to operate” comes from public approval and public trust.

The Contemporary Business Environment—Impact on Corporate Communication Practice: To the five forces of the contemporary business environment that have transformed the practice of corporate communication:


The Internet (Web 2.0)

Corporate Business Model—The Networked Enterprise


Privacy and “Big Data

(Goodman & Hirsch, 2015, xx)

We can add:

Shifting Demographics

The issues facing corporations and their communication officers reflect the impact of these six forces.

Communication officers have identified these top issues: speed, consistency, employee engagement, the search for talent (the right people), the transition to digital, the convergence between marketing and public relations, the collapse of traditional news outlets, reputation management, crisis communication, transparency, authenticity, measurement aligned to business outcomes, being legally compliant, demographics (millennials and an aging population), alignment and integration across the organization, anticipating changes.

Thought leaders who had recently retired, who were interviewed as background, echoed those issues and added these three:


Empowerment of audiences through technology

Determining the future of corporate communication and how it is structured with others in the C-Suite.

Communication officers were also asked to identify top trends: social media platforms, employee use of social media and mobile technology, maintaining the value of face-to-face communication, leadership engagement in communication, proactive engagement of company critics, increased speed needed to react in a crisis, the demographics of a completely new workforce, integration of communication into business strategy. The thought leaders added: alignment with and acting in the public interest, ←2 | 3→ self-publishing and owned content, employee involvement in communication, contribution to the success of the business, and ethics.

Defining Corporate Communication In the 21st century, corporate communication has become “a critical business asset for meeting the challenges of global change” (Goodman & Hirsch, 2015). This book continues to examine, analyze, and discuss the impact of the confluence of these six forces on the major communication needs in the lifecycle of publicly traded organizations.

Considering the transformative impact of these six forces, we continue to use this definition of corporate communication in western publicly traded companies:

Corporate communication is the term used to describe a variety of strategic management functions. Depending on the organization, corporate communication includes: public relations; crisis and emergency communication; corporate citizenship; reputation management; community relations; media relations; [social media]; investor relations; employee relations; government relations; marketing communication; management communication; corporate branding and image building; advertising.

(Goodman, “Corporate Communication,” 15)

As the contemporary corporate performance of multiple communication and management actions, corporate communication has “great persuasive power, because it suggests a focus on the corporation as a whole” (Elving, 2015). Corporate Communication represents the “significant, managerial ideal” for all its communication, its identity, and its messaging. Corporate communication has become “the central managerial activity involved in managing and orchestrating all internal and external communications aimed at creating favorable starting points with stakeholders on which the company depends,” as opposed to communicating with different “audiences or letting different departments handle their communications autonomously, the vision of corporate communication, in other words, is to manage all communications under one banner” (Elving, 2015). This approach recognizes that the reality for an organization is to manage the projection of “images that are able to cover physical, symbolic, and behavioral dimensions of an organization’s life” (Elving, 2015).

CCI—Corporate Communication International Practices and Trends Studies conducted from 2000 to 2019 have consistently used a survey instrument (See Appendix 1.1) containing six sections. A Company Profile was an outline of the Industry Groups and SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) Codes (See Chapter 4, Tables 4.3 and 4.4 ) of the survey participants by industry, company size, number of employees, securities exchange listed, equity index, market capitalization, and presence. Here are the six sections of the 2015 survey:

Organizational Practices—discusses the responses to questions about areas of responsibility, the role of the communication department, the challenges it faces, how the department is organized, its size, its staffing, any changes, its diversity, the skills it requires. It also discusses the department budget, budget changes, budget allocation, and the impact of cost-cutting efforts.

Leadership Practices—discusses the background and qualifications of the chief communication officer—title, gender, age, education, professional credentials. It also discusses the level of compensation and length of time as the communication leader. It discusses the reporting lines for the communication officer and membership on the executive committee. It also discusses the recruitment of the communication officer.

Performance Assessment Practices—discusses the types of communication measures, the performance metrics in use, and the methods of data collection. Also discussed are the measurement reporting and benchmarking practices, as well as any codes of ethics used by communication professionals. ←3 | 4→

Use of Agencies and Other Service Providers—discusses the practices communication professionals use to engage agencies and other service providers by discussing the types of services used, the procurement policy used, and the use of pre-approved list of agencies and service providers. Also discussed in this section are the annual expenditures for the use of agencies and outside service providers, as well as the disclosure of such expenditures.


XIV, 164
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XIV, 164 pp., 6 b/w ill., 10 tables

Biographical notes

Michael B. Goodman (Author) Peter B. Hirsch (Author)

Michael B. Goodman, Ph.D. is Professor and Director of the MA in Corporate Communication at Baruch College, The City University of New York; and Director of CCI Corporate Communication International. He is Visiting Professor at Aarhus University (Denmark), Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Universita IULM (Italy). He has published widely, including: Corporate Communication: Critical Business Asset for Strategic Global Change and Corporate Communication: Strategic Adaptation for Global Practice. He has been a consultant to more than 40 corporations and institutions on corporate communication, managerial communication, problem-solving, new business proposals, change, and corporate culture. Peter B. Hirsch is Executive Vice President and Director, Reputation Risk at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He has more than 25 years’ experiences a consultant to global corporations. He holds adjunct academic appointmentys at Baruch College, CUNY; Columbia University; and Fordham University. He co-authored Corporate Communication: Critical Business Asset for the Challenge of Global Change; Corporate Communication: Strategic Adaptation for Global Practice; and Corporate Communication: Tactical Guidelines for Strategic Practice with Michael B. Goodman.


Title: Corporate Communication
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