In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Communication Management

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Journals
  • Management Foundations
  • Planning and Development
  • Strategy
  • Communication Manager Roles
  • Leadership
  • Organizing and Structures
  • Evaluation and Measurement
  • Value Creation
  • Comparative Research
  • Academic Associations and Conferences
  • Practice and Transfer Associations

Communication Communication Management
Ansgar Zerfass, Sophia Charlotte Volk
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 September 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0244


The question of what comprises communication management has caused numerous discussions among communication scholars representing different theoretical and disciplinary angles. Communication management is generally defined as steering communication processes in organizational contexts along the phases of analyzing, planning, organizing, executing, and evaluating with the aim of contributing to organizational goals and value creation. The term has however often been interpreted in different ways, and it is used inconsistently throughout the literature: first, as an umbrella term for all types of goal-oriented communication encompassing the related concepts of public relations, corporate communication, or strategic communication; second, as an equivalent or as a replacement for the term public relations; third, as a specific stream of research within these fields in the tradition of managerial functionalism. In view of the inconsistent use of terminology, scholars have discussed what uniquely defines and distinguishes the concept of communication management from public relations, corporate communication, or strategic communication. The field of communication management does not have its own distinct monographs, anthologies, or textbooks per se, but continues to share close ties with the disciplines mentioned above. Therefore, this entry aims to offer a broad collection of references relevant to the discussion of communication management. Characteristic of communication management scholarship is the theoretical orientation toward management research and the empirical reflection of how communication professionals manage the organization’s communication with stakeholders and publics. The core contribution of a managerial understanding of communication is the notion that communication management is an organizational function embedded in the overall governance and steering of an entity, oriented toward securing the efficiency and effectiveness of all activities and the sustained increase in value of the organization. At base, such a managerial logic applies to all forms of communication (internal or external, media or customer relations, marketing or product communications, etc.), all instruments of communication (campaign, program, channel, etc.), and all types of organizations (companies, governmental institutions, non-profits, etc.). Whereas communication goals or target stakeholders will inevitably vary depending on the type of organization and the publics involved, the basic processes for managing the function will remain the same. Typical research endeavors in this tradition focus on questions related to different aspects and phases of the management process, such as: formulation and alignment of communication strategies and plans; structures and resources of communication departments; implementation of communication programs and messages; professional roles and types of leadership; evaluation and measurement of communication success and value creation through communication; specific professional tasks such as managing crisis communication and reputation, or planning integrated communication; usage of methods, tools, and frameworks in practice.

Reference Works

There are currently two encyclopedias that encompass a plethora of aspects related to communication management. Heath 2013 is specifically focused on the theory and history of public relations scholarship, while Heath and Johansen 2018 is located in the growing research field of strategic communication.

  • Heath, Robert L., ed. 2013. Encyclopedia of public relations. 2 vols. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    The second edition of the two-volume Encyclopedia of Public Relations, first published in 2005, contains nearly 450 entries spanning all aspects of the public relations field, including concepts and theories, history of the profession, changing practices, and key practitioners. It was and remains the first and most authoritative compilation on public relations, and includes many articles focusing on managing public relations or—in a broader sense—any communication activities of organizations.

  • Heath, Robert L., and Winni Johansen, eds. 2018. The international encyclopedia of strategic communication. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

    The three-volume International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication, written by a multidisciplinary team of authors, provides a broad overview of strategic communication research, including theory, definitions, concepts, and professional trends alongside a specific focus on the four major areas of strategy, organization, management, and sociocultural impact. It examines strategic communication from different scholarly perspectives and addresses a diverse readership, including academics and professionals in communication management, public relations, corporate communication, or marketing. Aspects of managing communications are discussed in many articles.

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