The Corp-Tech-PR Trinity

This model describes another way of operating and conceptualising Corporate Communication, Technical Communication, and Public Relations as three distinct, but interrelated, departments or functions.

A: Corp Comm and Tech Comm joint-author messages for external stakeholders; PR acts as gatekeeper
B: Tech Comm authors messages for external stakeholders; PR acts as gatekeeper
C: Tech Comm and Corp Comm joint-author messages for internal stakeholders
D: Corp Comm authors non-technical messages for external stakeholders; PR acts as gatekeeper

In companies operating this model, management see the three functions as essentially equal but separable. However, there are enough jobs to merit combined activities on a regular basis. Moreover, management believe there are advantages to collaborative practice, since each department has specialist expertise that it can apply that on behalf of another function, for the benefit of all.

A few examples will illustrate the practical workings implied by this model.

A minority of Corp Comm messages contain technical information that needs to reach external stakeholders. Such communications are informed by Tech Comm, drafted by Corp Comm, and finalized by PR. This work constitutes Intersection A.

A message containing technical advice is produced in the Tech Comm sphere, but since it is intended for end users, it is moderated, approved, or possibly rewritten by a PR writer in intersection B.

Corp Comm are required by management to create a list of common technical faults plaguing a certain family of products. To obtain this, a Corp Comm writer requests lists and statistics from the Tech Comm department, annotated appropriately. With the help of the Tech Comm writer, the Corp Comm writer can then convert this into a meeting-relevant format. These activities would occur in Intersection C.

When the company needs to make an announcement to users of its products, it will draft its message and pass this to the PR department for conversion into various media-appropriate formats. This conversion takes place in Intersection D.

In each intersection, it is of course possible that the direction of communication flow could be reversed. For example, in Intersection C, the Tech Comm department may seek clarity from Corp Comm regarding the meaning of the term "upgrade" in an instruction from Management - since the manufacturing department will need to know precisely what this means in hardware and/or software terms. Or, in Intersection D, the PR department could have received customer feedback that Corp Comm needs to translate into objectives for the consideration of management.

What is important to remember about this model is that in each intersection, information is written and rewritten, fashioned and refashioned, expanded or compressed, amplified or simplified, approved or rejected, queried or understood, forwarded or returned, redacted or annotated - all for the purpose of achieving optimum communication efficiency as per the requirements of the company and the audience.