The difference between marketing and corporate communications?

On a recent two-day kayaking trip from British Columbia’s West Coast to Gambier Island, I took some time to think about the age old question. What is the difference between marketing and corporate communications?

Corporate communications, public relations or public affairs is based on the understanding that people abhor the unknown – and, conversely, that familiarity breeds not contempt but favorability.

This applies to how the public views global corporations. Consider the energy, banking and pharmaceutical sectors. Do you feel contempt or favorability?

Familiarity, of course, is more than customer satisfaction. It is the distillation of ideas, feelings and experiences of all those who come into contact with the corporation – its products, its people and policies. To be “familiar” – and successfully project the desired corporate image – corporations engage in the process of communication that has to be planned, executed and measured just like any other business discipline.

While marketing communications ensures that products prosper, corporate communications helps create and maintain a constructive climate for the business by addressing the needs of key internal and external audiences for information, recognition and involvement.

The Mission of Corporate Communications

It is the mission of corporate communications to bring the concerns of the world of opinion-forming and decision-making into the strategic hubs of the corporation, and the corporation’s social and business values and its vision out into the world. Mutual understanding may not move mountains, but misunderstandings sometimes do.

For most multinationals, the coherence of communications is a significant challenge. Many of our clients do business in dozens of languages and hundreds of countries. We counsel that while local cultural requirements differ, the basic communications processes and messages must remain the same.

In a world of instant, around-the-clock communications, the company must speak with one voice. In a pro-active sense, the one voice – consisting of a company’s core messages – is like a clearly recognizable lead melody with variations depending on specific activity, location, business needs and circumstance. This is why we coach and train CEOs and other leaders around the world. For example, what works in the US seldom works in Malaysia. And what works in Japan doesn’t always work in Hong Kong.

Key Audiences for Corporate Communications

Key audiences for corporate communications are opinion leaders; among management and employees, in the communities in which a company works, in the media, among politicians, government, and regulatory authorities, pressure groups and NGOs, in the financial community, in the academic world and among business peers, customers and industry organizations.

Is your company engaging these audiences effectively?

For more information, or to learn how The Tantalus Group can help your company, please contact the author or call +1 604 551 3849.

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