Corporate PR: the Definitive Guide

This article examines corporate public relations, its purpose, and how Corporate PR differs from consumer PR and B2B PR. The lines between these variations of PR can blur, but fear not; we’ll walk you through everything there is to know about Corporate PR and what makes for an effective Corporate PR strategy.

published: February 28, 2024
updated: April 21, 2024

Companies today need to stand out from competitors as much as possible and present themselves in a positive way, especially in the digital era. Corporate PR is one way to do this, offering the chance to manage your reputation, address stakeholders, and increase sales all in one go. Examples of this can be seen all over the corporate world. From Google’s ‘Project Oxygen,’ to Zappos’ ‘Holacracy,’ there are plenty of examples of Corporate PR in action.

It isn’t enough to pay lip service to the great things you do. You need to show it with action. This is why companies and organization’s are increasingly seeing the power of leveraging Corporate PR. It’s not easy, however. There are many examples of getting this wrong. The problem is that they are under the very judgmental eye of the internet. This is why getting it right has never been more crucial. Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of doing it, how Corporate PR differs from consumer and B2B PR, what makes for an effective Corporate PR strategy, and whether you should consider hiring a Corporate PR firm.

What is Corporate PR?

PR itself is all about influencing people's perceptions. It involves the managing and sharing of information of organizations or individuals.

Corporate PR is everything your company does to manage the flow of information to everyone within it, as well as to customers, investors, and others with a vested interest. Effective Corporate PR reinforces an organization’s identity and helps it to stay competitive. It does this by sharing information and crafting carefully constructed messages that align with what it stands for and with what it hopes to achieve. As an example, in Google’s Project Oxygen. There was a research initiative to identify the key traits that made effective managers. The research found 8 key behaviors that corresponded to effective management. Based on this, training was created around this that was designed to meet the needs of the individual managers. It was also regularly updated based on feedback and changes in company strategy and culture.

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Why is public relations important for corporations?

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Building a consistent reputation

Corporate public relations is ideal for etching a permanent and strong opinion of a company in people’s minds. Through well-planned and thought-out communication, businesses can successfully resonate with people and enjoy the benefits of a good reputation. Word gets around quickly, and a positive reputation attracts curious parties, investors, and maybe even people looking for opportunities to work with or for you.

Brand awareness

Corporate public relations plays a crucial role in ensuring your target audience hears about your offering. Through an array of tactics, they’ll get to know about what makes you unique, and how you can make their life easier. Also, establishing your corporate executives as industry leaders through the sharing of opinions, insights, and expertise allows corporations to distinguish themselves from other corporates.

To combat negative events

When a crisis strikes, you’ll need the power of PR behind you. An effective PR strategy should cover the ‘what-ifs.’ What if my product has a flaw? What if the firm suffers a data breach? It is the role of PR professionals to understand, plan, and navigate these. Only then will you be able to protect your company’s reputation.

Strategy building

Knowing what works and what doesn’t is key to any future strategizing for corporates. This is where PR lends a hand. It can show what messages were most positively received, what strategies worked well, and what communication could be improved. This can inform your strategy going forward, making it more effective and receptive to your target audience.

Stakeholder management

What you do on the inside also counts, and employee motivation, loyalty, and investor relationships can all be boosted by effective PR. It concerns itself with building positive and productive relationships between organizations and stakeholders. Engaged employees reflect well on your organization. It can enhance a company’s image, thereby lifting its image in the eyes of its people, the public, and external investors. Use Corporate PR to inspire staff and engage other relevant parties.

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What are the benefits of Corporate PR?

Instilling the benefits of PR for corporates into a company requires a strategic and integrated approach. By implementing results-driven PR strategies, companies can effectively leverage the benefits of PR to support their overall brand image, enhance reputation, and build long-term relationships with stakeholders.

It's all about image

Having a great product is one thing, but a brand’s image is its most prized position. That is why, after all, PR professionals and the whole PR industry have come to exist. A brand’s image is what an individual sees and perceives when they think of a business or product. It develops in the mind of the consumer based on their experiences and interactions with it, as well as their perception of your company's purpose and values.

This, as you can see, is rather multi-faceted. It’s why every bit of content you produce, every element of customer service people encounter, and communication matters. PR helps to build and maintain a positive brand image.

Increased visibility

PR generates media coverage and publicity, increasing the corporation's visibility and reaching a wider audience than traditional advertising alone. Through the careful crafting and dissemination of information to particular outlets, PR can enhance visibility among the their desired audiences.

Credibility and trust

Consumers choose companies that they trust. This could be because they’ve built up a relationship with it over time, or because they’ve heard a lot about it. It could also be because its leaders and their thoughts and opinions carry weight in the industry. A benefit of Corporate PR is that it gives an opportunity to build trust with people, and one way it does this is through thought leadership.

Another way it builds trust is that PR in itself is very different from paid advertising. It is earned media. Earned media coverage through PR activities carries more credibility than paid advertising, as it is seen as unbiased and impartial, contributing to increased trust in the corporation and its brand. It also supports marketing efforts. PR complements marketing initiatives by providing third-party validation and endorsement, amplifying marketing messages and strengthening brand positioning.

Audience engagement

If done well, Corporate PR efforts should hit the mark with your target audience and actively engage them. This engagement is crucial. Not only does it mean heightened brand awareness, but it can foster a sense of community around a brand, enhancing interaction and engagement. This engagement can take many forms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter discussions, conducting polls, or joining in with trending conversation topics. Engagement plays a crucial role in humanizing your brand and building trust.

What are the differences between consumer and Corporate PR?

While the aim of both is to build a positive image, there are differences that should be noted. Consumer PR refers to all public relations efforts aimed at reaching the general public. Corporate PR is directed more at professional or businesses, and internal audiences, as it seeks to improve and tap into the power of an organization’s employees and interdepartmental communications. Because of this, the types of messages will differ too. Corporate PR is more likely to focus on missions, values, and company achievements. Whereas, when communicating to the public, you want to share a product's or service's benefits and features. It's more serious in tone. This doesn't mean you can’t be creative, of course. But you are much more likely to use formal communication styles.

Naturally, the chosen communication channels of each will differ too. If you're looking to appeal to consumers - either because you want their time or for them to part with their cash, you may choose consumer-heavy channels such as Instagram and Facebook. This would make sense, right? If you want to catch the attention of those in the industry, a trade publication, industry journal, or LinkedIn post would probably work the same kind of magic (from a corporate perspective).

Just to make things confusing, however, they can also mix. A feature on a tech website for a tech company can benefit both consumer and Corporate PR, for example. If it highlights your credibility then it's all good PR.

To illustrate:

Example of B2C PR: PRLab helped Masuku gain brand awareness for their face masks in the Netherlands during the pandemic years. Fashion vlogging influencers and TikTok personalities were employed to show-off the sustainable face masks and promote the product.

Another example could be a cosmetic company launching a new line of skincare products and implementing social PR campaigns that feature user-generated content showcasing the effectiveness of the products. They collaborate with beauty influencers to create engaging tutorials and reviews, generating buzz among consumers on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

Example of Corporate PR: PRLab has assisted numerous software companies in announcing funding rounds and strategic partnerships through press release distribution to industry-specific publications and sharing on LinkedIn. In the corporate space, it’s also important to leverage trade media opportunities for the publishing of thought leadership articles. It’s about positioning the company or spokesperson as an industry expert and driving visibility among business clients and partners.

What are the differences between B2B PR and Corporate PR?

B2B PR aims to help firms build brand awareness, and generate more leads, and sales. There is often a greater emphasis on the product or service itself over the actual company itself. As such, PR efforts are geared toward key decision-makers and specific departments, such as buying or procurement.

While Corporate PR focuses on the overall reputation and perception, B2B PR will support sales and marketing efforts and will perhaps be managed or have the input of the sales or marketing directors behind it. B2B PR could involve increasing SOV in trade sector publications, launching new products, thought leadership content, or tailoring content to specific products and business objectives, e.g increased sales of product 'x' over the quarter.

B2B PR and Corporate PR share many similarities in their strategies and tactics, yet they also have distinct focuses and objectives tailored to their respective audiences and goals. While Corporate PR aims to manage the overall reputation and perception of a company, B2B PR is sometimes more targeted towards supporting sales and marketing efforts by promoting specific products or services to other businesses.

Let's explore two examples to showcase the differences between B2B PR and Corporate PR.

Example 1

B2B PR, A software company specializing in enterprise solutions launches a new cloud-based platform designed to streamline workflow processes for businesses. The B2B PR strategy focuses on generating leads among other businesses by highlighting the platform's features, benefits, and potential to improve operational efficiency. The PR team collaborates closely with the sales and marketing departments to develop targeted messaging and content tailored to appeal to key decision-makers in purchasing or procurement roles. They leverage trade publications, industry events, and targeted email campaigns to reach their B2B audience and drive engagement and conversions.

Example 2

Corporate PR, A multinational corporation announces a strategic partnership with a nonprofit organization to support environmental sustainability initiatives. The Corporate PR strategy aims to enhance the company's overall reputation and demonstrate its commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). The PR team coordinates with corporate executives and the CSR department to craft messaging emphasizing the corporation's values, mission, and contributions to environmental conservation efforts. They distribute press releases, organize media events, and share updates on corporate social media channels to communicate the partnership's significance and reinforce the company's positive image among stakeholders, including investors, employees, and the general public.

Key differences between the 2 scenarios

Consumers choose companies that they trust. This could be because they’ve built up a relationship with it over time, or because they’ve heard a lot about it. It could also be because its leaders and their thoughts and opinions carry weight in the industry. A benefit of Corporate PR is that it gives an opportunity to build trust with people, and one way it does this is through thought leadership.

Another way it builds trust is that PR in itself is very different from paid advertising. It is earned media. Earned media coverage through PR activities carries more credibility than paid advertising, as it is seen as unbiased and impartial, contributing to increased trust in the corporation and its brand. It also supports marketing efforts. PR complements marketing initiatives by providing third-party validation and endorsement, amplifying marketing messages and strengthening brand positioning.

1. Audience focus

  • B2B PR targets other businesses and key decision-makers within those organizations.
  • Corporate PR targets a broader audience, including investors, employees, media, and the general public.

2. Objective

  • B2B PR aims to support sales and marketing efforts by generating leads and promoting specific products or services.
  • Corporate PR focuses on managing the overall reputation and perception of the company, often emphasizing corporate values and social responsibility.

3. Messaging and content

  • B2B PR messaging and content highlight the features, benefits, and value propositions of products or services, tailored to appeal to business needs and objectives.
  • Corporate PR messaging and content emphasize corporate values, mission, achievements, and contributions to society, aiming to build trust and credibility.

4.  Channels and tactics

  • B2B PR utilizes trade publications, industry events, targeted email campaigns, and thought leadership content to reach business audiences.
  • Corporate PR leverages press releases, media events, corporate social media channels, and CSR initiatives to communicate with a broader range of stakeholders.

5. Integration with sales and marketing

  • B2B PR strategies are closely integrated with sales and marketing efforts, with a focus on supporting lead generation and conversion goals.
  • Corporate PR strategies may collaborate with various departments, including CSR, investor relations, and executive leadership, to align messaging with overall business objectives and reputation management.

It is important to note that an integrated approach will often be chosen. This could be wise since a strong overall reputation will support your sales goals. At PRLab, we can help create a B2B PR strategy for you today.

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Should corporations hire a Corporate PR firm?

Wondering if you should DIY or hire a Corporate PR firm? Well, there are a few things you need to consider before deciding. PR firms bring with them ready-made experience and a degree of specialized knowledge that cannot be ignored. This could be certain industry nuances, content writing skills, or an extended media arm. PR firms can also take on heavy-lifting PR activities, allowing the corporation to do its core business tasks. If a crisis hits, PR firms will be equipped with the strategies and experience to advise clients on their communication strategies to protect the corporation's image.

However, internal teams have deeper insights into the company culture, its uniqueness, its journey, and the people who make it what it is. This can be very advantageous for putting together cohesive and authentic messages that resonate with their people. By handling PR efforts internally, a firm gets direct control over all activities, ensuring its efforts align with the company strategy, and the firm chooses the direction without feeling forced to compromise on its goal or direction.

However, if you're thinking about long-term branding and communication goals, a firm can offer continual strategic guidance and a degree of insight and planning that goes beyond your DIY efforts. If you’re looking to hire a Corporate PR agency get in touch today to see how we can help.

What makes an effective Corporate PR strategy

A cast-iron Corporate PR strategy could be at your fingertips if you pay attention to some crucial components. Crucial to any successful PR strategy should be a deep understanding of your audience. Knowing their needs and the channels they use is essential for delivering targeted messages that get you desirable outcomes. It is also key to set clear objectives in your campaign. This inevitably means they'll need to be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely). These objectives should also guide your PR efforts and provide a roadmap for what you do next. Important metrics to watch out for could be impressions, audience engagement, conversions, or investment partners acquired. Remember to embrace data and also be partial to some feedback along the way.

​​You need to craft a compelling story. Effective PR strategies require strong messaging that aligns with your brand values. For Corporate PR, this could involve sharing key facts, stats, or stories that present what you do in an interesting and engaging light and demonstrate to audiences why they should want to hear more. Putting employee stories at the center of your brand story also adds a human element. It can also educate interested investors if they see their work and how you work together as a team.

Whatever the decision, it's important to assess the organization's needs and available resources. An effective corporate strategy requires a clear understanding of the resources required to reach your objectives. This includes your budget, tools and people. Lastly, you’ll also need to conduct media outreach. Send out press releases when you have exciting company news to share. Try and promote your executive team as thought leaders with something meaningful and valid to share.

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Conclusion

Hopefully by now you’ll have a good idea about what Corporate PR is, where it fits in with the other forms of PR, and how it can be utilized for competitive advantage. We’ve also looked at what goes into a successful strategy.

Most organization’s will need to employ Corporate PR and B2B/B2C PR at some point. Companies should not neglect internal communication. Investing in a public relations strategy can help an organization differentiate itself from competitors and play a crucial role in helping to shape its image over time, create genuine relationships with stakeholders, effectively manage its reputation, and guide its people in positive and negative circumstances.

February 28, 2024
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