Since the Internet's introduction into the business world, research on its role in corporate communication strategy has been limited - the focus has been on its role in marketing and electronic commerce. This study aims to provide a theoretical and empirical description of the role of the Internet in the strategic management of an organisation's corporate communication and marketing functions. An electronic questionnaire was distributed to 632 managers of companies (with websites) listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange as well as to managers of companies listed on ananzi.co.za who utilise the Internet to achieve organisational goals. Descriptive statistics as well as the Cronbach Alpha, factor analysis and hypothesis testing were used to analyse the data. The empirical research showed, that managers use the Internet to achieve both corporate communication and marketing goals. However, the various designations did not distinguish between the two factors. All four corporate communication models are used by South African organisations in their communication on the Internet. There is no significant correlation between the designation of the respondents (corporate communication, marketing, information technology and 'other') and their choice (of elements) of the corporate communication models (the latter indicating their preference). This research study aimed to achieve the following goals, namely determining if the Internet is a (corporate communication or marketing) medium or a strategy; realising organisational goals through the use of the Internet; investigating whether 'Internet strategy' refers to functional or operational strategy; determining the organisational purpose for corporate communication by investigating (elements of) the corporate communication (public relations) models that are used by organisations in their communication on the Internet; and integrating the Internet into corporate communication strategy. It is recommended that: the Internet can only contribute to the realisation of organisation goals, if it is integrated into the functional (corporate communication or marketing) strategy of an organisation; the Internet's contribution will be most advantageous if it is integrated into corporate communication strategy, because corporate communication addresses all organisational stakeholders and not only customers. If the corporate communication department/division does not have control over, or is not involved in the management of Internet content (as the empirical research indicates), then it will not be possible to integrate electronic communication mediums into the overall corporate communication strategy. The Internet's impact on achievement of the corporate communication goals will also impact the achievement of the organisation's goals.
Dissertation (MCom(Communication Management))--University of Pretoria, 2005.