A strategic approach to corporate communication: an analytic creating strategic alignment and measuring results

Doctorate other than PhD

Halter, Judith Marie. 2015. A strategic approach to corporate communication: an analytic creating strategic alignment and measuring results. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Professional Studies. University of Southern Queensland.

A strategic approach to corporate communication: an analytic creating strategic alignment and measuring results

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorHalter, Judith Marie
SupervisorPostle, Glen
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Professional Studies
Number of Pages317

At the beginning of 2009, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) senior executive tasked its Corporate Communication and Public Relations Office to conduct extensive stakeholder qualitative research to understand specific issues that may potentially impact on the University’s reputation. The research findings provided trending data of the key issues and concerns from staff and external stakeholder groups. To address these perceptions, communication strategies were developed to ensure that USQ was recognised as a thriving, contemporary university, renowned for its connectedness with internal and external stakeholders. Given the diversity of each stakeholder group, this high-level communication approach included individual strategies and messages to engage, inform and interact with the communities in which the University operated. Recommendations were demonstrated to the senior executive but an accurate measure to show the effectiveness of resourcing these initiatives proved difficult.

Senior university executives are accountable for their decisions when dealing with public money but how do communication professionals provide a quantitative measure and metric when the area of expertise is defining and responding to subjective stakeholder perceptions? This case study signalled interesting opportunities and directions to investigate the appropriate alignment, measurement and value in incorporating community opinion in decision-making and identifying future strategic directions.

I reflected on a concept of using a recognised risk management scale to measure the impact of various stakeholder perceptions on a university’s reputation and contacted a risk-management company in Sydney which saw merit in this idea. We worked together to develop a computer database system which evaluated the benefits of initiating communication actions in response to known stakeholder issues and concerns.

The future development and modification of the system was dependent on knowing if university communication practitioners engage in typically journalistic activities at the technical level, or if they held a leadership role that sits closer to the top of the management hierarchy to influence decision making and take responsibility for the public’s orientation toward their university.

This research set out to discover current communication practices in a sampling of Australian universities; the responsibilities and related issues of communication offices; the communication measurement tools utilised and if measurement was an issue in the sector; and how a communication measurement system may offer a solution to some of these dilemmas.

Findings from this research identified the value of public relations to the overall business initiatives undertaken by universities, the practical concerns facing communication directors, and how public relations professionals currently measure the impact of their work.

Through this exploration, the thesis shows how the system that has been developed contributes new knowledge to a problematic situation of measuring the value of strategic communication. The system’s measurement indicator can ultimately influence the communications profession and enhance the reputation of the strategic communication function.

Keywordscorporate communication; strategic communication; University of Southern Queensland
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350799. Strategy, management and organisational behaviour not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
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