If you’re thinking about going to graduate school for corporate communications, one of the easiest online master’s degrees, then you should know that this field is much more than social media. Corporate communications is a broad field that encompasses both internal and external communications of all kinds, from marketing and advertising copy to memos and reports. When hiring for corporate communications roles, companies are looking for someone with the skills to plan communication strategies, as well as draft effective messages of all varieties.
Skills in Social Media, Digital Marketing and More
In today’s business world, expertise in social media is certainly in-demand. However, if you go into a corporate communications master’s degree program expecting your curriculum to revolve around social media or apply to a corporate communications job thinking you’ll spend every hour of work curating social content, you may be disappointed.
Social media strategy and content creation is just one aspect of one part of the corporate communications field, customer communications and marketing. If the area of customer communications is a big part of your job description, then you should also expect to spend time developing website content, digital advertising copy, marketing email blasts and written materials for traditional marketing and advertising campaigns.
That said, you could pursue a concentration in social media or digital marketing if you want to focus on these skills. In a concentration in social media, you might take classes like social media and brand strategy implementation, management of social media channels, interactive marketing, digital marketing analytics, search engine optimization and online consumer behavior.
If your passion is social media, then you should tailor your job search to specialized roles like social media specialist and look for internship or volunteer opportunities managing organizations’ social media pages to develop your expertise.
Proficiency in Public Relations
Another valuable area on which you could focus your corporate communications studies is public relations. PR is the more specialized field of using communication skills to manage an organization’s public image and reputation. While a public relations specialist may not have as broad a range of job duties as other careers in corporate communications, their work is important in building a positive perception of a brand.
PR professionals, whether working in an agency or as part of an in-house team, often need to cultivate relationships with members of local or relevant media publications. Having these connections allows you to successfully acquire media coverage of your company’s events, developments and achievements.
A concentration in public relations may include introductory PR coursework, classes in public relations strategy and studies in PR research. You may also complete courses in crisis communications, PR content development and corporate social responsibility.
If you’re a strategic thinker, you might work your way up to a high-level role that emphasizes communication planning. Strategic communication is an important part of a corporate communications degree program, but not every professional working in this field uses these skills equally.
In some corporate communications roles, your job is simply to create messages according to the company’s strategy and plans, not to shape those plans yourself. On the other hand, high-level management roles in corporate communications may focus more on developing strategies and overseeing the work of lower-level communications personnel.
If this sounds like your ultimate career goal, taking coursework in leadership, including the roles and responsibilities of strategic communications advisors and the management of communication resources, can help you advance to this senior-level position.
Crafting Messages for Different Audiences
No matter what the precise job duties of a corporate communications role entail, one ability companies are looking for is the skill to develop messages with your audience in mind. The best social media specialists understand that not all social networks are the same. They know that different social media sites have different audiences and can distinguish between best practices for posting content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms.
The same is true for public relations specialists. Pitching a story that isn’t relevant to your media contacts isn’t an effective way to get media coverage. In fact, doing so can alienate journalists and editors, eroding those carefully developed relationships.
Although they may not be personally creating the messages, the corporate communications directors responsible for planning communications need to understand each of the different audiences a company has and strategize how to best connect with them.