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Functions of Communication definition


Corporate commnications meeting. (© Panumas - Fotolia.com)

Corporate commnications meeting. (© Panumas - Fotolia.com)

This post examines the functions of communication as it pertains to corporate communication and PR. Those functions are to inform, persuade and motivate. How do you do anything better? Often the answer is to identify the goals and objectives of that thing, in order to ensure that you do it better going forward. So, it is with communication. In communications, the objectives are called the functions of communication. Consider these, and it will be easier to make the best decisions and to ensure that you get the positive outcomes you are aiming for. These are also called the purposes of communication.

What Are the Functions of Communication?

In business and PR, the functions of communication will vary depending on the objective and the setting.

For instance, when communicating with clients, customers and the target demographic through marketing and advertising, the functions of communication will likely be to:

  • Inform
  • Persuade
  • Motivate

In other words, you want to inform the audience of the information that you want them to know about. This might mean informing the audience of the existence of your product or service, and/or it might mean informing them as to its functions, benefits, specifications etc.

This process is often described using the acronym AIDA, which reminds copywriters and marketers as to these functions. This stands for:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

If you try and motivate someone to buy before they understand what your product is, then you will only put them off. Why would someone buy before they have an understanding of what they’re being offered, or before they know that they can trust the person or organization that is offering it? By following these steps, you can gradually increase awareness and interest to the point that the audience is ready to purchase from you.

Corporate Communication

This also applies roughly in corporate communication. Corporate communication means internal communication and communication between organizations. This is often handled by a communications department or officer. It might also relate to communication with stakeholders, or with project management.

In these scenarios, the functions of communication remain surprisingly similar. Here, you are trying to inform partners and staff as to their role and the status of the company. From there, you can then persuade and motivate them to act in a certain way.

A good communication then might break information as to a company’s upcoming plans. But at the same time, it will also inform the audience about their expected role and it will help them to feel persuaded and motivated. It will increase compliance and enthusiasm and hopefully create a more positive and effective team dynamic for better quality work.

Likewise, when communicating with stakeholders, the aim is to inform them

  • as to recent profits
  • and plans
  • and at the same time keep them feeling positive about the status of the business
  • and motivate them to keep their shares.

What Makes Good Communication?

These functions also generally apply to communication more broadly and can help inform good writing, speaking and general interaction. These are useful things to keep in mind for any communication.

When you write an article for example, you should keep these functions in mind. The first and more important function is communication: it is from this that other functions become possible.

So that means that you need to think about how to get the most meaning across to your audience and the most information in the most efficient way.

That in turn means that your writing should be concise and easy to understand. This is where many companies and writers will go wrong with their communications:

  • they try to be verbose
  • or they will try to show off with their writing, to demonstrate their understanding
  • and command of the subject.
openPR tip: Rather than ‘impressing’ the audience, what this does most often is to put them off. They are in a hurry and they haven’t gotten the information they came for. And without that information, they now cannot be persuaded or motivated, meaning they are no more likely to buy from you than they were in the first place!

Good Structure

So, this in turn means that you should aim to

  • write succinctly
  • and to avoid unnecessary verbiage
  • and awkward constructions.

Does this mean that your writing should be simple? No: it means it should be elegant. In other words, it should convey the most meaning in the neatest way possible – which turns a larger vocabulary into an asset as it allows you to express yourself more dynamically. And this also works wonders when it comes to persuasion.


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