Chapter 1: Introduction to the Handbook on Digital Corporate Communication
Full access

As masses of digitally savvy stakeholders master the means of 24/7 communication technology, so must communication professionals. This chapter introduces digital corporate communication (DCC) as an important and emerging field of research and practice. Despite the growing yet disparate body of research examining how digital technologies are shaping ways in which organizations and stakeholders communicate with each other, this chapter identifies the need for a more unified body of scholarly knowledge about DCC. It also systematically builds on existing DCC research to offer conceptual clarity of terms such as digital, digitalisation and digital infrastructure, as well as corporate communicationitself, to propose a definition of DCC. It subsequently introduces this handbook’s four over-arching sections that cover: (1) digitally-influenced changes to legacy corporate communication functions, (2) digitally-influenced issues that corporate communication must address, (3) corporate communication’s adoption of digital technologies, and (4) corporate communication’s role in managing digitalization’s effects in society.

  • Arthur W. Page Society (2021). CommTech Guide. https://commtechguide.page.org/getting-started-in-commtech-from-professional-to-pathfinder/a-new-profession-emerges/.

  • Badham, M. (2020). Love wins: A love lens approach to cultivation of organization–stakeholder relationships. In R. Tench, A. T. Vercic, and S. Einwiller (eds.), Joy: Using strategic communication to improve well-being and organizational success, Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management Vol. 5 (pp. 3–20). Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

  • Bajalia, A. (2020). Where are we now? Public relations professionals discuss measurement and evaluation. Public Relations Journal, 13(2).

  • Barnett, M., Jermier, J., and Lafferty, B. (2006). Corporate reputation: The definitional landscape. Corporate Reputation Review, 9, 26–38.

  • Beger, R. (2018). Present-day corporate communication: A practice-oriented, state-of-the-art guide. Singapore: Springer Nature.

  • Bloomberg, J. (2018). Digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation: Confuse them at your peril. Forbes Magazine, 29 April. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2018/04/29/digitization-digitalization-and-digital-transformation-confuse-them-at-your-peril/?sh=189c02682f2c.

  • Brennan, J. S. and Kreiss, D. (2016). Digitalization. In K. B. Jensen and R. Craig (eds.), The international encyclopedia of communication theory and philosophy (pp. 1–11). Wiley Online Library.

  • Brockhaus, J., Buhmann, A., and Zerfass, A. (2022). Digitalization in corporate communications: Understanding the emergence and consequences of CommTech and digital infrastructure. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, volume ahead-of-print. DOI:10.1108/CCIJ-03-2022-0035.

  • Bruns, A. (2005). Gatewatching: Collaborative online news production. New York: Peter Lang.

  • Bruns, A. (2011). Gatekeeping, gatewatching, real-time feedback: New challenges for journalism. Brazilian Journalism Research Journal, 7(2), 117–136.

  • Bryan, J. (2018). What digitalization means for corporate communications. Gartner, 17 September. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/digitalization-means-corporate-communications/.

  • Bughin, J., Deakin, J., and O’Beirne, B. (2019). Digital transformation: Improving the odds of success. McKinsey Quarterly (October).

  • Cacciatore, M. A., Meng, J., and Berger, B. K. (2017). Information flow and communication practice challenges: A global study on effective responsive strategies. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 22(3), 292–307.

  • Canel, M. J., Luoma-aho, V., and Barandiara_n, X. (2020). Public sector communication and public-valued intangible assets. In V. Luoma-aho and M. J. Canel (eds.), Handbook of public sector communication (pp. 101–114). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Capriotti, P., Zeler, I., and Camilleri, M. A. (2021). Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of key dimensions for dialogic communication. In M. A. Camilleri (ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age (pp. 33–51). Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

  • Chalmers, A. W. and Shotton, P. A. (2016). Changing the face of advocacy? Explaining interest organizations’ use of social media strategies. Political Communication, 33(3), 374–391.

  • Cheney, G. (1991). Rhetoric in an organizational society: Managing multiple identities. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

  • Christensen, L. T. and Cornelissen, J. (2011). Bridging corporate and organizational communication: Review, development and a look to the future. Management Communication Quarterly, 25(3), 383–414.

  • Ciszek, E. L. (2016). Digital activism: How social media and dissensus inform theory and practice. Public Relations Review, 42, 314–321.

  • Cornelissen, J. (2017). Corporate communication: A guide to theory and practice (5th ed.). London: Sage Publications.

  • Digital (2022a). Merriam-Webster online dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/digital.

  • Digital (2022b). Oxford English online dictionary. https://www-oed-com.ezproxy.jyu.fi/view/Entry/52611?redirectedFrom=digital#eid.

  • Duhe_, S. C. (ed.) (2017). New media and public relations (3rd ed.). New York: Peter Lang.

  • Eisenberg, E. (1984). Ambiguity as strategy in organizational communication. Communication Monographs, 51, 227–242.

  • Eriksson, M., Fleischer, R., Johansson, A., Snickars, P., and Vonderau, P. (2017). Spotify teardown: Inside the black box of streaming music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Etter, M., Winkler, P., and Glozer, S. (2019). New responsibilities for digital corporate communication. In M. Morsing, U. Golob, and K. Podnar (eds.), CSR Communication Conference 2019: Conference Proceedings. Izdajatelj: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana.

  • Etter, M., Winkler, P., and Pleil, T. (2021). Public relations and social media. In C. Valentini (ed.), Public relations, Handbook of Communication Science Vol. 27 (pp. 159–174). Berlin: De Gruyter.

  • Ewing, M., Men, L. R., and O’Neil, J. (2019). Using social media to engage employees: Insights from internal communication managers. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(2), 110–132.

  • Freberg, K. (2020). Social media for strategic communication: Creative strategies and research-based applications. Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(2), 200–204.

  • Freeman, M. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Frenzel, A., Muench, J. C., Bruckner, M. T., and Veit, D. (2021). Digitization or digitalization? Toward an understanding of definitions, use and application in IS research. AMCIS 2021 Proceedings.

  • Garci_a Garci_a, M., Carrillo-Dura_n, M. V., and Tato Jimenez, J. L. (2017). Online corporate communications: Website usability and content. Journal of Communication Management, 21(2), 140–154.

  • Gregory, A. and Fawkes, J. (2019). A global capability framework: Reframing public relations for a changing world. Public Relations Review, 45(3), 1–13.

  • Hallahan, K., Holzhausen, D., Van Ruler, B., Verc_ic_, D., and Sriramesh, K. (2007). Defining strategic communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 1(1), 3–35.

  • Heath, R. E. and Gregory, A. (2015). Introduction: Defining strategic communication – groundings, forewarnings, and calls to action. In R. E. Heath and A. Gregory (eds.), Strategic communication (pp. xxxi–xxxvi). London: Sage Publications.

  • Hess, T., Matt, C., Benlian, A., and Wiesboeck, F. (2016). Options for formulating a digital transformation strategy. MIS Quarterly Executive, 15(2), 123–139.

  • Hill, J. S. and Winski, J. M. (1987). Goodbye global ads: Global village is fantasyland for big marketers. Advertising Age, 16 November, 22–36.

  • Huang, Y.-H. C., Wu, F., and Huang, Q. (2017). Does research on digital public relations indicate a paradigm shift? An analysis and critique of recent trends. Telematics and Informatics, 37, 1364–1376.

  • Kannan, P. K. and Li, H. (2017). Digital marketing: A framework, review and research agenda. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 34(1), 22–45.

  • Khang, H., Ki, E. J., and Ye, L. (2012). Social media research in advertising, communication, marketing, and public relations, 1997–2010. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89, 279–298.

  • Kim, S., Park, J. H., and Wertz, E. K. (2010). Expectation gaps between stakeholders and web-based corporate public relations efforts: Focusing on Fortune 500 corporate websites. Public Relations Review, 36(3), 215–221.

  • Kitchen, P. J. (1997). Was public relations a prelude to corporate communications? Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 2(1), 22–30.

  • Kitchen, P. J. and Panopoulos, A. (2010). Online public relations: The adoption process and innovation challenge, a Greek example. Public Relations Review, 36(3), 222–229.

  • Legner, C., Eymann, T., Hess, T., Matt, C., Bo_hmann, T., Drews, P., Mädche, A., Urbach, N., and Ahlemann, F. (2017). Digitalization: Opportunity and challenge for the business and information systems engineering community. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 59(4), 301–308.

  • Lerbinger, O. (2019). Corporate communication: An international and management perspective. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Lock, I. (2019). Explicating communicative organization-stakeholder relationships in the digital age: A systematic review and research agenda. Public Relations Review, 45(4), 1–13.

  • Luoma-aho, V. (2015). Understanding stakeholder engagement: Faith-holders, hateholders and fakeholders. Research Journal of the Institute for Public Relations, 2(1). https://instituteforpr.org/understanding-stakeholder-engagement-faith-holders-hateholders-fakeholders/.

  • Luoma-aho, V. and Paloviita, A. (2010). Actor-networking stakeholder theory for corporate communications. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 15(1), 47–69.

  • Lutrell, R., Emerick, S., and Wallace, A. (2021). Digital strategies: Data-driven public relations, marketing, and advertising. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Macnamara, J. (2017). Creating a ‘democracy for everyone’: Strategies for increasing listening and engagement by government. The London School of Economics and Political Science. https://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/assets/documents/research/2017/MacnamaraReport2017.pdf.

  • Nadkarni, S. and Prügl, R. (2021). Digital transformation: A review, synthesis and opportunities for future research. Management Review Quarterly, 71(2), 233–341.

  • Oksiutycz, A. and Kunene, S. J. (2017). Contribution of online corporate communication to brand reputation among millennials in the Vaal region. Communicatio, 43(3–4), 74–94.

  • Oliver, S. M. (ed.) (2004). Handbook of corporate communication and public relations: Pure and applied. London: Routledge.

  • Oltarzhevskyi, D. O. (2019). Typology of contemporary corporate communication channels. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 24(4), 608–622.

  • Onkvisit, S. and Shaw, J. J. (1987). Standardized international advertising: A review and critical evaluation of the theoretical and empirical evidence. Columbia Journal of World Business, 22, 43–55.

  • Schwarz, J. A. (2017). Platform logic: An interdisciplinary approach to the platform-based economy. Policy & Internet, 9(4), 374–394.

  • Shoemaker, P. J. (1991). Gatekeeping. London: Sage Publications.

  • Sommerfeldt, E. J., Kent, M. L., and Taylor, M. (2012). Activist practitioner perspectives of website public relations: Why aren’t activist websites fulfilling the dialogic promise? Public Relations Review, 38(2), 303–312.

  • Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 571–610.

  • Tilson, D., Lyytinen, K., and Sørensen, C. (2010). Research commentary—digital infrastructures: The missing IS research agenda. Information Systems Research, 21(4), 748–759.

  • Valentini, C. (ed.) (2021). Public relations, Handbook of Communication Science Vol. 27. Berlin: De Gruyter.

  • van Riel, C. B. M. (1995). Principles of corporate communication. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • van Riel, C. B. M. (1997). Research in corporate communication: An overview of an emerging field. Management Communication Quarterly, 11, 288–309.

  • van Riel, C. B. M. and Balmer, J. M. T. (1997). Corporate identity: The concept, its measurement, and management. European Journal of Marketing, 31, 341–355.

  • van Riel, C. B. M. and Fombrun, C. (2007). Essentials of corporate communication: Implementing practices for effective reputation management. London: Routledge.

  • Weiner, M. (2021). PR technology, data and insights: Igniting a positive return on your communications investment. London: Kogan Page.

  • Wiencierz, C. and Röttger, U. (2017). The use of big data in corporate communication. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 22(3), 258–272.

  • Wiesenberg, M., Zerfass, A., and Moreno, A. (2017). Big data and automation in strategic communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 11(2), 95–114.

  • Wilson, C., Brubaker, P., and Smith, B. (2020). Cracking the snapcode: Understanding the organizational and technological influences of strategic social media adoption. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 14(1), 41–59.

  • Wright, D. K. and Hinson, M. D. (2017). Tracking how social and other digital media are being used in public relations practice: A twelve-year study. Public Relations Journal, 11(1), 1–30.

  • Yaxley, H. (2012). Digital public relations: Revolution or evolution? In A. Theaker (ed.), Public relations handbook (4th ed., pp. 411–422). Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Ye, L. and Ki, E. (2012). The status of online public relations research: An analysis of published articles in 1992–2009. Journal of Public Relations Research, 24(5), 409–434.

  • Zerfass, A., Buhmann, A., Tench, R., Verc_ic_, D., and Moreno, A. (2021). European Communication Monitor 2021. CommTech and digital infrastructure, video-conferencing, and future roles for communication professionals. Results of a survey in 46 countries. Brussels: EUPRERA/EACD.

  • Zerfass, A., Verhoeven, P., Moreno, A., Tench, R., and Verc_ic_, D. (2020). European Communication Monitor 2020. Ethical challenges, gender issues, cyber security, and competence gaps in strategic communication. Results of a survey in 44 countries. Brussels: EUPRERA/EACD.

  • Zerfass, A. and Viertmann, C. (2017). Creating business value through corporate communication: A theory-based framework and its practical application. Journal of Communication Management, 21(1), 86–91.

  • Zhou, A. and Xu, S. (2021). Digital public relations through the lens of affordances: A conceptual expansion of the dialogic principles. Journal of Public Relations Research, 33(6), 445–463.