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More and More Corporate Comms Functions Merging Into Marketing

Closer coordination between Communications and Marketing brings many benefits, but is also skewing communications strategy towards an external focus

Sometimes writing about “internal” and “external” communications feels anachronistic; the relics of an earlier time when it was easier to segment audiences. The digitalization of so much of the world inside and outside of companies, and the proliferation of social channels, allows information producers and consumers to access the same platforms.

This far more complex and integrated information environment demands corp comms teams to be much more coordinated in the way that they write and produce company messages.

As companies try to strengthen their brand externally and their corporate culture internally, the previously distinct functions of Communications and Marketing find themselves working on either side of ever-blurrier lines. In 2016, for example, 23% of heads of communication reported to the chief marketing officer. This percentage has more than doubled since 2014, when just 10% reported into the CMO, and is now almost equal to the percentage reporting into the CEO (24%).

To underline the significance of this shift in reporting lines, there has also been a shift in resource allocation. Convergence with the marketing function leads communications teams to skew towards external comms in their budget. This budget shift includes a significant increase in dollars spent on the corporate website, with a proportional decrease in employee communications.

Budget decisions always come with inherent trade-offs, but comms teams will make better decisions if they go into budget discussions with their eyes open about where they report and what it means for the company’s comms strategy.


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