Communication Sample Paper
Title: Corporate Communication
Title: Jane Austen
Name of Course:
This case study focuses on a US-based company known as AT&T. The aspects of the company addressed include business name, mission and vision statements, strategic communication considerations, corporate identity, corporate image and media relations. The case study ends with aspects of internal communications. There is also a sample crisis communication plan for AT&T.
AT&T is the biggest provider of fixed telephony within the US. The company also offers subscription and broadband television services. The vision of the company is to connect people with the world, wherever they are working or living, and to do it better than any other company. In terms of mission, the company aspires to be the most admired company, as well as the most valued one in the world. The company’s goal is enriching its customer’s personal lives and making their businesses more successful through bringing into the market highly exciting and useful communication services while at the same time building shareowner value.
AT&T’s corporate culture is based on consistency, quality, and innovation in the area of IP-based communications. As Bray notes, the company has a rich history that spans more than a century, during which it has been offering clients high-quality communications products and services (92). The company’s culture today is based on providing both local and multinational companies with high-quality connections with the entire world.
The company comes up with new communications innovations all the time in efforts to cater to the needs of consumers and businesses. It is associated with competence in the area of mobile broadband networks, considering that the corporation boasts of the best mobile broadband network in the US. The company also has the largest Wi-Fi network in the country, which is based on operated and branded hotspots.
Today, the company is striving to be associated with improvements in the entertainment and communications industry, mainly through increasing its level of video-based product offerings. This includes the provision of television services. AT&T offers employees great perks, and the facilities are excellent. There is a gym, cafeteria, card store, and one enjoys a sense of professionalism.
Christen notes that the company is associated with financial stability since bonuses and benefits are always nice even in times of recession (243). Formality is something one has to get used to while working in this company. People who are used to working for smaller corporations may find it a bit difficult to get accustomed to the culture here. The bureaucracy here is long, complex; it chokes the system. Multiple levels of approval have to be followed even in the simplest of tasks. This makes job sharing tasks a bit difficult to carry out.
The strategic communication system at this company is conveniently open to everyone. AT&T’s strategic communication is about openness, investment, and innovation. The internet provides the best strategic communication opportunity for the company’s managers and employees. For the managers, this form of communication is about people management. For employees, it is about innovation and ease of communication both horizontally and vertically. The communication strategies are aimed at both internal and external corporate interactions.
Employees are encouraged to take advantage of the freedom that is accorded by the company’s communication systems. Freedom paves way for openness to an environment where ideas are exchanged, content is easily accessible, and the internet accessibility is a reality for all the company’s stakeholders.
The AT&T brand is the best icon of the company’s corporate identity. AT&T is continually working towards ensuring that it is relevant in the constantly changing markets. The company has, for this reason, unveiled a brand new corporate signature for energizing and invigorating its brand. The company’s most valuable communications and marketing tools include the AT&T corporate signature, the signature colors, and a Gills Sans Typeface. The logo was first designed in 1983 and then modified in 2005. The colors are blue, grey, and black. Additionally, AT&T uses some other 18 colors. The company makes use of its proprietary typeface known as ClearviewATT, whose basis is ClearviewOne.
The company’s corporate identity is discernible in two main types of communications: corporate communications and business-specific communications. The AT&T corporate signature is strictly for use when the communication in question represents the company’s brand at large or represents the company or even the corporate voice of the corporation. The AT&T business signature is only for use when the communication in question is representative of the products, offers, or services that are specific to or are meant to be delivered to a single business.
This logo, When are used well, has all the elements needed to maintain the support for a carefully designed identity system for the corporation. The identity system is for enabling everyone at AT&T speaks with one voice once in the marketplace. According to Trotter, the standards for the company’s logo are meant to provide the building blocks upon which the corporate identity system of AT&T is built (136). The standards are meant to ensure that the AT&T corporate signature is applied uniformly across all media.
When the company’s logo was modified recently, it changed from capital letters to lowercase letters. This change is perceived today as one whose aim was to convey the message that the company is more consumer-friendly, and that it is a more approachable business. The logo was also modified from a two-dimensional globe to one that is three-dimensional. This can be expressly interpreted to mean that the company is emphasizing the depth of services it offers, as well as a global presence. The company’s managers believed that these highlights needed to be highlighted in a market that is always changing and constantly growing. The official position on the change of the logo was that ‘the revitalized mark symbolizes innovation, quality, integrity, unsurpassed customer care, and reliability’.
The corporate image of AT&T may be visualized on the basis of three main aspects: finance, employees, and sense of citizenship. In terms of finance, AT&T is a well known, reputable corporation, which does not get negative publicity in the marketplace even when there are short-term setbacks in the form of earnings and sales. The financial strength of AT&T remains a strong factor in the long-term purchasing decisions of customers.
On the other hand, the employees at AT&T are seemingly a happy lot. They constitute a productive team that has a powerful market influence. The employees have a strong positive influence on the way the company is perceived by the external stakeholders. Therefore, the top management often strives to ensure that there is minimal discontent in the workforce.
In terms of the sense of citizenship, part of AT&T efforts is to remain relevant in an increasingly changing world through undertaking corporate responsibility activities.As many other companies in the modern world, AT&T is increasingly engaging in awareness activities aimed at asserting its position as a concerned party as far as the welfare of citizens in various communities is concerned. The company also participates actively in matters of government policy. In terms of government policy, the corporation is known for adopting strong positions relating to technology transfer, hiring policies, and international sales.
The company has been actively undertaking campaigns aimed at transforming its corporate image. The company’s preferred image is one that depicts it as an energetic, competitive and highly innovative establishment. In this regard, the emphasis is on using the company’s reputation on long-distance communication in order to nurture, defend, safeguard, and promote this image. In this campaign, the company’s starting point has always been its loyal customers, early adapters, people who are comfortable with technology, and those who are better-educated.
The company has an effective system of ensuring that media releases are used optimally for communication with the world regarding the company’s services. The media releases contain information on different matters, including new product releases, change of company’s corporate strategy, instructions to customers who could be experiencing problems, and discount announcements. The most easily accessible platform for these media releases is the internet.
An example of a recent media release is the one that announced the introduction of the fastest mobile broadband network by AT&T. In this media release, dated November 22, 2010, the main highlight was that the fastest broadband network was getting even faster through the delivery of strong vocal performance. The authenticity of this information was clarified by virtue of the indication that the findings were generated through third-party national drive testing.
Yet another media release, produced on the same day, the subject matter was backup solutions for small businesses. The company was announcing that all business owners who had backed up their data using one of the company’s solutions could access conveniently from any place in the world, using an iPhone that has a special application available at AT&T.
In a large organization such as AT&T, the internal communication process is highly structured as part of the company’s bureaucratic apparatus. Technology is heavily relied on for communicating messages that do not require employees to assemble at the conference hall.
The year 2009 marked significant internal communications issues, whereby the company was accused of having a perception problem, emanating mainly from being the sole network carrier for iPhone. However, it is the problem with the voice quality of the company’s network that triggered most internal communication sessions. The accusations against the company may be justified or not depending on how one looks at the issue. In most cases, internal communications efforts have been fruitful in ensuring that the heads of different departments face the public with a common point of view.
Through internal communications, meetings, and clearly set-out agendas, the company has been able to clearly express to the public and stakeholders, all the measures it is undertaking to improve the corporation, including rigorous upgrades of networks in major cities across the country.
Most of the serious heat that is generated by public controversy is always faced during an internal communication session in the company’s boardrooms. An example of a situation that would surely cause anxiety during internal communication sessions is the outcome of a Consumer Reports survey of 2009, which showed a steady decline in AT&T’s brand perception. The decrease in popularity was strongly associated with the company’s performance as the only carrier of the country’s most popular phone, Apple’s iPhone. After a lengthy internal communication, the company’s top managers agreed that the network problem was on the side of the iPhone, which ranged from conflicting messages to broken promises.
Effective crisis communications at AT&T is one that has been planned in advance. The two most beneficial aspects of advance preparations in this context include developing a crisis team rooster, complete with alternates as well as all contact numbers, and creating a support team roster, and its alternatives, complete with contact numbers. As a precautionary measure, a ‘Duty Officer’ is needed for purposes of mobilizing the crisis team.
This stage incorporates various aspects of planning and training, for example, playing out a fire scenario. This training involves preparedness on all situations that may be regarded as emergency status.
In this stage, rapid response is needed to put out the fire outbreak. All stakeholders need to get involved, including the public at large, various crisis communication specialists, customers who may be at the corporation’s proximity, either physically or virtually, in terms of access to the corporate communication systems, and other companies within the industry that have effective emergency-response systems, for example, firefighting machines.
This phase varies in terms of the duration of time, and all aspects of the restoration of normalcy have to be addressed. The work of rebuilding all destroyed structures is categorized in the post-crisis stage. This stage ends when the business starts to run again as usual.
Bray, Douglas. Formative Years in business: A long-term AT&T study of managerial lives, New York: R. E. Krieger Pub. Co., 1979.
Christen, Cindy. “The restructuring and reengineering of AT&T: Analysis of a public relations crisis using organizational theory”, Public Relations Review, 31.2 (2005): 239-251.
Trotter, Don. “Institutionalizing entrepreneurship in a large company: A case study at AT&T” Industrial Marketing Management, 19.2(1990): 131-139.
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