CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful
employee connections that deepen engagement,
build trust and accelerate business performance.

JUNE 2014
HOW DOES YOUR CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS TEAM COMPARE?
I NSI GHTS FROM THE EDELMAN CORPORATE COMMUNI CATI ONS BENCHMARKI NG STUDY

Corporate Communications is integral to driving company reputation objectives and ensuring a cohesive strategy to
engage stakeholders – and the function is raising its profile among business leadership as the C-suite recognizes the
importance of two-way dialogue. As a result, Corporate Communications teams continue to evolve.

To better understand how companies organize the function, Edelman executed a Corporate Communications
Benchmarking Study, surveying 36 companies and exploring headcount, reporting lines and areas of improvement.
Findings suggest that these functional teams have been shaped by multiple factors impacting strategic choices
around structure and function, including size, industry dynamics, and b-to-b vs. b-to-c focus, and internal factors,
such as organizational culture, leadership changes, transformation initiatives and operational constraints.

LET’ S DI VE I N: CORPORATE COMMUNI CATI ONS STUDY HI GHLI GHTS

 Headcount averages 35. Of companies surveyed, there was
a wide range of team sizes – from a headcount of 1 to 159,
with the average being 35 – and this number varied by
industry. Financial Services companies tend to over-index
on headcount, likely due to both regulatory and reputation
issues of the industry; they are also among the largest
participants by revenue. In contrast, Retail tends to have far
fewer than average total communicators.

When it comes to external vs. internal communication
headcount, external communicators generally outnumber
internal communicators by a ratio of about 1.5-to-1. There
are some notable exceptions; for example, in b-to-c
companies there is a 4-to-1 ratio of external communicators
to internal communicators. In contrast, Services companies
demonstrate a higher average number of internal
communicators, with an almost equal 1-to-1 ratio of
external to internal.

 PR & Media Relations and Internal Communications
comprise most of that headcount. PR & Media Relations
and Internal Communications are the functions that most
often anchor Corporate Communication teams. The most
notable exceptions to this finding are in b-to-c,
Manufacturing and Pharma companies, which have more
headcount in Stakeholder Relations than in Internal
Communications. CSR & Philanthropy and Corporate Brand
& Identity play a strong secondary role, particularly in
segments like b-to-c companies and the retail industry.



2

For more information, please contact Edelman Employee
Engagement at employee.engagement@edelman.com.

For more information, please contact Edelman Employee Engagement
at EmployeeEngagement@edelman.com.

Examining companies across the size spectrum, the Corporate Communications team becomes more concentrated
by function in larger organizations. In companies under $5 billion revenue, the range of activities represented in
Corporate Communications spans all 13 functions in the study; however, in larger companies with more headcount,
Corporate Communications teams tend to cover fewer functions.

Dedicated Digital & Social Media resources seem to be under-represented across the board, with only the largest
companies (over $50 billion) and the Financial Services industry dedicating more than 5% of their headcount digital
communications.

 34% report to the CEO. The most common reporting line for the
Corporate Communications function is to the CEO – about 34% of the
time – followed by the CMO and “Other” leaders. The “Other” category
includes a variety of leaders such as Human Resources, Corporate
Strategy, Corporate Development, Brand Custodian and business unit
Presidents. Pharmaceutical and other companies, such as
conglomerates and defense contractors, stand out as exceptions, as
the Corporate Communications function in these industries are twice
as likely to report to the CEO. From a size perspective, there is more
variability in smaller companies (under $5 billion), as 6 of the 13
Corporate Communications teams surveyed report to a leader outside
of the CEO and CMO.

 Communications-related work doesn’t always
feed into Corporate Communications. Going a
level deeper, functions related to Corporate
Communications often report into other
functions. Of the survey respondents with
investor relations functions, 60% indicated
direct reporting lines to the CFO, rather than
Corporate Communications. Stakeholder
Relations (including government relations
and public affairs) and Digital & Social Media
often report into other functions as well.

 Immediate focus areas are digital capabilities, content and company narrative. Surveyed companies are planning to
invest in many areas over the next 12 months, with a major focus on digital capability enhancement, content
creation and better alignment to a consistent narrative across functions and geographies. Most are interested in
developing new capabilities or putting more effective processes in place, with top priorities being enhancing content
creation with story-mining and visual storytelling, optimizing digital and other channels for executive and employee
communications, and adding CSR communication.

Corporate Communication teams are seeking better alignment with regional and country teams through information
flows, accountability and improved planning. There is a desire to drive consistency of strategy by centralizing
decision-making in areas like master narrative and shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach. Many companies
are planning to increase Corporate Communications headcount, both in HQ and in-country, to support new business
growth or to decrease dependence on agencies.



3

For more information, please contact Edelman Employee
Engagement at employee.engagement@edelman.com.

For more information, please contact Edelman Employee Engagement
at EmployeeEngagement@edelman.com.
WHERE DO YOU FI T I N?

So how does your Corporate Communications function compare? Do your numbers, breakdowns and reporting lines
coincide with the trends identified? Are your plans for improvement over the next year in line with those surveyed?
Take some time to consider how your Corporate Communications team would fit in among study participants. Is this
where you want to be? Does it make sense?

We hope these benchmarks and valuable industry insights will help guide you in making strategic improvements to
your function structure and focus areas to say competitive among your industry peers.

WANT TO SEE THE FULL REPORT?

Contact us for a copy of the full Edelman Corporate Communications Benchmarking Study Participant Summary
Report, including interviewee quotes, percentage breakdowns and more.

ABOUT US

Edelman’s Employee Engagement Practice helps organizations accelerate business performance, delivered by highly
engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trust-building connections — connecting
employees with the company, connecting employees with each other, and connecting employees with the outside
world. We have a global network of employee engagement specialists who can develop engagement strategy; deploy
the tools and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that support it; and design the
insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us at ee.edelman.com, follow us on Twitter at
@EdelmanEE or email us at employee.engagement@edelman.com.