Firstly, let’s identify what each of these individual definitions mean.
Corporate Communication encompasses ALL modes of communication both within and outside the organization itself. Within the organization, personnel with Corporate Communication responsibilities are often tasked to ensure that communication flows smoothly between departments and from upper management to the departments. Externally, a Corporate Communication person’s responsibilities may involve dealing with external stakeholders, communicating with investors and customers alike.
Public Relations involves the positive reinforcement of your organisation’s image. Through highly visible channels and with the aid of media personnel like reporters and newspaper editors, Public Relations revolves around controlling the messages being projected about the organization and striving to make them as positive as possible.
Last but not least, Crisis Communication (CC) is the gathering, coordination and timely dissemination of crisis-related information and opinion to interested parties to protect and defend an organization in facing a public challenge to its reputation.
So the question you’re asking is: what’s the difference between these three disciplines? They all sound the same, they all have overlapping features, they all involve communication, but all three of them encompass very different responsibilities and necessary skillsets.
Public Relations vs Corporate Communication
Public Relations defers from Corporation Communications in that, while Corporate Communications focuses on communication in general, Public Relations on building, maintaining, and enforcing the reputation of the organization to the public. While it is not unusual for Public Relations professionals to have Corporate Communications responsibilities, Public Relations defers in that there are often media responsibilities to it that Corporate Communications lacks.
Crisis Communication vs Public Relations
The simplified version is this: Public Relations deals with the positive, while Crisis Communication deal with the negative.
To expand on that, Crisis Communication is the direct inverse of traditional public relations; public relations is the acquisition of approval from third parties (the public), strengthening reputation through positive branding and credibility. Crisis Communication deals with negative media. If Public Relations is the equivalent of slowly constructing a skyscraper, Crisis Communications is about putting out the fire trying to burn that skyscraper down. The fire could be a media scandal, it could be an accusation that your products are defective or your work culture is toxic and treats staff badly, it could be anything that threatens the reputation of your organization and Crisis Communication is necessary to mitigate the damage done to your organization and your brand.
Crisis Communication vs Corporate Communications
As stated above, Corporate Communications doesn’t seek to build a brand nor mitigate a crisis; it simply serves as a tool of pure communication within and outside the organization. It is consistent in the day-to-day affairs of any functioning organization. Crisis Communication, on the other hand, is only active when there is a crisis affecting the organization.
About Crisis Communication Offering
The institute has launched it series of crisis communication certification and competency-based courses. The objective of this course is to prepare the team that support the communication of the messages both internally and externally.
This course will discuss about the principles behind communicating during a crisis or disaster, however, the emphasis is not on the "public relations" or "spokesperson" aspect of the communication as that requires the staff to attend professional training in media handling. This course will overlap into Public relations and Corporate Communication as it is essential that a comprehensive approach be understanding during any crisis or disaster.
So what course should I be attending? Read How Do I Start My Crisis Communication Learning Journey? If you are upgrading your skill set and would like to have the appropriate credentials, you may want this blog useful "Which Crisis Communication Certification Am I Qualified For?"