Corporate communication and the role of annual reporting

Identifying areas for further research

Authored by: Elizabeth de Groot

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Professional Communication

Print publication date:  February  2014
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415676199
eBook ISBN: 9781315851686
Adobe ISBN: 9781317916437


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Stronger stakeholder demands, an increase in planned and unplanned media presence, homogeneity in products, internationalisation, a growing need for more cost efficiency … These are several of the major developments that led to the introduction of the concept of corporate communication in the final decades of the twentieth century. Corporate communication has been defined as a management function that focuses on the orchestration of all internal and external communication activities. Its purpose is to generate and convey a consistent corporate story based on which favourable relationships are established with stakeholders who determine the company’s bottom line (Cornelissen 2011; Van Riel and Fombrun 2007). This means that corporate communication entails the coordination of a complex set of communication activities that need to reflect a ‘coherent and unambiguous’ picture of ‘what the organization is and what it stands for’ (Christensen, Morsing and Cheney 2008: 3). It needs to do this, moreover, for stakeholder groups that have specific interests in the company. Based in a philosophy that regards the company as a whole, corporate communication combines activities in marketing communications, employee communications, investor relations or PR in an attempt to build strategic affiliations with customers, employees, investors or other publics who may fulfil multiple stakeholder roles and who may reside in domestic or foreign markets that require specific stakeholder approaches (e.g. Cornelissen 2011; Torp 2009). In recent years, the corporate communication function has been further complicated by new trends in ethics and technology (Goodman 2012). Accounting incidents and environmental disasters have raised stakeholder concerns about companies’ transparency and social responsibility, leaving companies with the task of presenting themselves as ‘reliable and trustworthy institutions with nothing to hide’ (Cornelissen 2011: 23). At the same time, the flight of Web 2.0 has not only caused a growth in verbal and visual communication media such as social networks, blogs or video sharing services but has also caused an increase in uncontrollable stakeholder-generated content that can be shared rapidly and broadly (Aula 2010).

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