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How to Become a Corporate Communications Manager

Corporate communications managers act as the bridge between a company and the outside world. These specialized managers take responsibility for a business’s day-to-day external communications, often dipping into public relations. A company’s image and message depend on their work, making them crucial to companies’ success.

For anyone considering pursuing a job in this field, learning how to become a corporate communications manager is the first step.

a businesswoman takes notes while three coworkers look at a laptop screen

What Does a Corporate Communications Manager Do?

Corporate communications managers may have many responsibilities in an organization, such as managing both internal and external communications, navigating public relations, and developing company content. These specialized managers could be called upon to supervise social media content, finalize company statements, handle media inquiries, develop campaigns and press releases, and even break down more complex company terminology into content that is digestible for target audiences. Essentially, what corporate communications managers do depends upon the needs and priorities of their organizations.

Not only do many corporate communications managers work with others outside of their company quite often, but they also tend to work collaboratively in an internal team environment. As such, those hoping for a future in corporate communications management need excellent interpersonal, communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.

Steps for Becoming a Corporate Communications Manager

Corporate communications managers not only help to create the face of a brand or company, but they also might serve as brand ambassadors themselves through every piece of content they create, sign off on, or pitch to clients. Corporate communications managers enjoy speaking with others and creating messages that will grab the target audience’s attention. If this sounds ideal to you, then learning the steps for becoming a corporate communications manager is essential.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

According to PayScale, a bachelor’s degree is essential for any corporate communications manager career. A degree in public relations, marketing, communication, or a related field would be particularly beneficial. An online Bachelor of Arts in Communication curriculum teaches students skills that allow them to use communication to weave narratives and build relationships. A few of the crucial aspects of communication that students learn in such a program include effective writing skills, digital marketing, data analysis, branding, and media intelligence.

Effective Writing — A corporate communications manager uses written content to deliver a company’s message, both internally and externally. Knowledge of different writing styles, from AP to Chicago, is particularly useful, as well as overall writing skills.

Digital Marketing — Today’s marketing world is largely digital. Screens of all sizes are primed for social media and other digital platforms, which change as rapidly as the new technologies are produced. As such, it is key for companies to stay abreast of these cultural shifts to maintain relevance and attract clients.

Data Analysis — Because most advertising is digital today, analysis of website performance and electronic-based company campaigns is a key responsibility of a corporate communications manager. It’s important to evaluate returns on investment and tweak efforts where necessary. Students learn to use data analysis to discover the weak points of a company’s message so it can be strengthened.

Branding — Companies today are about more than just what they sell. They represent full-fledged brands, with unique messages, voices, aesthetics, and goals. The most effective companies use consistent branding, efforts which make their products immediately recognizable to consumers. This could include messaging, web content, advertisements, and social media content. Students learn how to craft the ideal forms of branded content to bring cohesion to a company’s brand across all platforms, as well as draw in consumers from the target audience.

Media Intelligence — Corporate communications managers need to have a certain level of media intelligence to operate. Identifying internal and external weaknesses in media use can create opportunities, both for the structure of the company as well as for the growth of its online presence.

Step 2: Gain On-the-Job Experience

After earning the bachelor’s degree necessary to pursue a corporate communications manager career, the next step is to gain on-the-job experience. Experience is an excellent teacher, and those in the corporate communications field will quickly learn about employee relations, marketing, communications, and social media.

According to PayScale, corporate communications managers get paid more with experience. For example, an entry level manager with less than five years of experience may earn $66,000 annually, while a midcareer manager with five to 10 years of experience could earn $82,000 per year.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree to Pursue Advancement (Optional)

To grow into the manager role in a company, a master’s degree may often be necessary in addition to on-the-job experience. A master’s degree elevates understanding of the field, including best practices, and hones the ability to use that knowledge in real-world settings. For example, an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership curriculum provides continued studies in best communication practices, crisis management, socially responsible communication, and strategic development implementation. By expanding upon professional knowledge and industry best practices, students may gain a critical boost in advancing a corporate communications career. Master’s programs typically cover subjects such as:

Emerging Media Strategy — Strategies involving emerging media may include writing digital content, navigating social media campaigns, orchestrating web design, and managing any crisis that may appear, all while maintaining the company brand, vision, and aesthetic.

Strategic Communication — Strategic communication is crucial to the corporate communications manager position. It involves using the latest tools, techniques, and platforms to develop frameworks for achieving company objectives, and then coordinating the execution of these strategies throughout the organization. Strategic communication requires an excellent knowledge of public relations, advertising, and marketing.

Contemporary Journalism — Due to the varied forms of written content now available online through social media and other digital platforms, corporate communications managers need to be well-versed in contemporary forms of journalism. This may include how to gather reputable information, deliver accurate reporting, edit with attention to detail, and publish work using methods currently available on all forms of online and traditional media.

Corporate Communications Manager Salaries

According to PayScale, average corporate communications manager salaries are $78,812 annually. However, reported salaries for this position range from $54,000 to $110,000, with the variation most likely due to differences in experience and skills. As PayScale reports, the skills that most impact this salary include employee relations, media and public relations, social media marketing, and corporate and marketing communications.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the roles of corporate communications managers are closely aligned with public relation specialists. Public relations specialists also represent a company to the public and require a bachelor’s degree to start. Even their average salaries are similar, with media and communications public relations specialists earning a median salary of $56,340, according to the BLS.

Future Growth of Corporate Communications Managers

The BLS notes that the career of public relations specialists is growing at a rate of about 9 percent across the U.S., which is approximately as fast as other jobs. That means that an estimated 22,900 new public relations specialist positions may open up from 2016 to 2026.

This growth in the career outlook for corporate communications managers may be due to the increased role that social media plays in business communications. Corporate communications managers can help companies reach existing and potential customers in new ways, aided by cutting-edge technologies and digital platforms. Corporate communications managers will be needed to foster the connection between company and individual, product and user.

For those looking to pursue a career in corporate communications management, knowledge in overlapping areas, such as public relations, communications, marketing, and content creation, is particularly useful. Programs such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication and online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership provide students with the skills needed to elevate their career potential. They impart the knowledge and skills necessary to bridge the gap between today’s businesses and customers by managing communications.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Public Relations Specialists: Job Outlook

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Public Relations Specialists: Pay

PayScale, “Average Corporate Communications Manager Salary

Maryville University, “Online Bachelor’s in Communication Curriculum

Maryville University, “Strategic Communication & Leadership, M.A.