Innovation communication

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As Innovation Communication refers to communication processes in public relations -Sinne in and of businesses and other organizations to develop new products, services, technologies, processes, concepts and ideas ( innovation support) or convey these innovations internally and externally. It is primarily about the innovation itself. In many cases, however, the organization behind it should also be positioned as an innovator.

Innovation communication is becoming increasingly important due to the increasing relevance of innovations for business and society. In the research it is discussed intensively since of 2004. Since then, in corporate practice and consulting - regardless of operational experience that existed long before - increased efforts to strategically planned innovation communication can be observed. The first comprehensive study on the interlinking of communication and innovation management in Germany was presented in 2008 by the University of Leipzig and Fink & Fuchs Public Relations . It shows that the level of development in German companies is at very different levels to this day. As a specific form of corporate communication, innovation communication has references to both communication management and innovation management.

Definition of terms

Innovation communication in the narrower sense comprises the conveyance of complex innovations in simple, understandable messages, for example through linguistic and visual translation and through the use of storytelling, framing and campaigning. A distinction can be made between several levels: the micro level of the explanation and interpretation of innovations between individuals, especially managers and employees; the meso level of the innovation-related communication processes of an organization and the macro level of communication about innovations in society. The mass media and the complementary function of innovation journalism in the sense of 360-degree reporting on economic, technical and social aspects of innovations play a central role.

In a more comprehensive perspective, innovation communication means the integration of communication in all phases of innovation management. It is then not just about conveying innovations, but above all about establishing communicative platforms through which the perspectives of employees, customers, multipliers, etc. are brought into innovation processes. In the age of open innovation, it is hoped that this will provide content-related impulses; Above all, however, socially compatible interpretation patterns, e.g. B. be developed for new technologies.

The objectives of innovation communication are: 1) Strengthening the internal innovation capacity, 2) Establishing innovation-relevant exchange relationships with the company environment, 3) Preparatory agenda setting and connectivity, 4) Introduction and implementation of individual innovations, 5) Positioning as an innovative company, 6) Co-shaping the social innovation climate.

A distinction to similar concepts can be made as follows: Innovation marketing focuses on new services for sales markets and to that extent on special reference groups, and communication is not discussed in depth there. The innovation journalism concerned with reporting on innovations and takes insofar an external perspective. The science and research communication mainly discussed the external communication of complex content and offers at the operational level, many connection points, but not limited to innovations and also forms no remuneration from the innovation management. In contrast to technology communication, innovation communication also addresses social and economic innovations that are based on changed worldviews and business models and are gaining in importance in the information society.


Since the first scientific description of the concept of innovation communication in 2004, various research areas have developed.

  • The interactions between communication and innovation management are the focus of research projects at the University of Leipzig in cooperation with Fink & Fuchs Public Relations and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg . The focus here is on linking new approaches to innovation research (in particular open innovation, crowdsourcing ) with internal and external corporate communication, which is understood not only as a mediator of messages, but also as a trend radar for new developments. The most important results of this research are summarized in the anthology by Zerfaß / Möslein (2009); In addition to the conceptual fundamentals, it also contains numerous case studies from corporate practice.
  • The interaction of innovation communication and journalistic reporting is examined in the INNOVATE studies, which the University of Hohenheim carried out together with MFG Medienentwicklung Baden-Württemberg and Debitel . The surveys of companies and journalists identify various success factors and obstacles in communicating innovations. Empirical results and case studies can be found in the books by Mast / Zerfaß 2005 and Mast / Huck / Zerfaß 2006.
  • A trend study on science communication funded by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft examines the challenges and perspectives of innovation communication in science. The comprehensive industry survey in this area showed that it is comparatively successful to convey economic exploitation possibilities of scientific knowledge; the mechanisms of an innovation process, however, are only very insufficiently transparent due to the previous communication. Answers to the problems and challenges identified in the survey will be developed in the next step as part of a Delphi study, namely through forecasts and scenarios, roadmaps and strategy recommendations from 75 experts.
  • In recent years, the importance of conversation for generating innovation has been (re-) discovered. Lester and Piore called the conversation the "missing dimension" in innovation management. It is a necessary basis, but at the same time also an instrument to be able to generate innovations. Aeschbacher accordingly sees conversation as a management method to sensibly select the flood of ideas in innovation projects and to implement the most promising ones for an organization quickly and without friction (see literature).

Corporate practice

Innovations can only be successful if they are perceived and understood by the people concerned. Just like technical functionality and economic efficiency, cognitive processes among employees, customers and other reference groups of a company determine the acceptance of new products and services. Innovation communication therefore tries in practice to convey event, emotional and useful values. This can be achieved through personalization, visualization or the ability to experience the innovation. Depending on the situation and necessity, the entire spectrum of communication instruments is used: texts, images and graphics in press materials, brochures, employee and customer publications are just as relevant as multimedia online formats, in particular micro websites , podcasts and online videos, which deal with complex issues present clearly. Dialog-oriented elements of live communication, for example technology parks , adventure and brand worlds , trade fair appearances and customer workshops are also well suited .

A review of the documented case studies on innovation communication in Germany shows that innovation communication is particularly important today in the field of marketing communication, internal communication and public relations aimed at media and socio-political reference groups:

  • In marketing communication, the communication of innovations serves in particular to convincingly convey the product idea, whereby the benefits for the end consumer are clearly emphasized. Application examples, testimonials and thematic links to current topics and debates can be used to communicate product launches and improvements . One example was the launch of Persil Megaperls. In the first step, a “ selling idea ” was developed and consistently communicated in order to have its statement underpinned by prominent personalities in the next step. Ultimately, purchasing decisions for products are often made dependent on the look and feel of the packaging, so that its design is another relevant point. Tchibo is pursuing the opposite goal with the “tchibo ideas” online platform: Here, customers can contribute their own ideas for new products and thus participate in innovations at an early stage.
  • The main task of internal innovation communication is to involve employees and their various competencies in the innovation process at an early stage. This is done by creating and optimizing an internal company culture of innovation. The Audi AG sets example on a strategy that leads into a combined use of online media, print media and emotion events. Information is permanently available and innovations are made transparent on the intranet, on traditional notices on the bulletin board and in the employee magazine. In addition, competitions and events offer an opportunity to make innovations tangible and interesting within the company and to anchor them in the culture. Companies such as Daimler AG and Swarowski are already going a step further and are working with internal innovation communities in which employees can formulate their ideas on Web 2.0 platforms and evaluate and discuss them with one another.
  • In the field of public relations, companies address their innovation communication directly to relevant reference groups. For example, BASF has been offering several innovation podcasts for some time. Among other things, a “chemistry reporter” explains complex chemical processes and fields of application of raw products in understandable language. On the other hand, journalists are an essential target group for PR. In press and media work for innovations, tailored information with added value (topicality, relevance, uniqueness) and actual news as well as a "look behind the scenes" are important. Siemens, for example, has been offering an “InnovationNews” media service since 1996, which brings two to three generally understandable innovation reports every week. In addition, once a month the services “ResearchNews” with pure research topics and “PhotNews” with photos of the innovations are offered. In addition, a “Media Summit” takes place once a year, an event at which 150 journalists from all over the world gain insights into the company's key trends and future strategies.


  • A. Zerfaß, KM Möslein (Ed.): Communication as a success factor in innovation management - strategies in the age of open innovation. Gabler, Wiesbaden 2009.
  • J. Hoewner, M. Jansen, K. Jantke: From Spinnovation to Sinnovation. Monsenstein and Vannerdat, Düsseldorf 2008.
  • G. Hofbauer, R. Körner, U. Nikolaus, A. Poost: Marketing of innovations. Strategies and mechanisms for implementing innovations. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2008.
  • U. Eberl, J. Puma: Innovators and Innovations: Insights into the ideas workshop of a global corporation. Publicis, Erlangen 2007.
  • Claudia Mast , S. Huck, A. Zerfaß: Innovation communication in dynamic markets. Empirical results and case studies. LIT, Berlin 2006.
  • C. Mast, A. Zerfaß (Ed.): Successfully implementing new ideas. The innovation communication manual. Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch , Frankfurt am Main 2005.
  • A. Gerber: Antennas must be on reception. Open communication is crucial for the success of open innovation. In: science management. 4/2008, pp. 20-29.
  • A. Gerber: Creating value together. Science as a strategic partner for business. In: Communicating Science. 4/2009, pp. 2-13.
  • RK Lester, MJ Piore: Innovation - the missing dimension. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts 2004, ISBN 0-674-01581-9 .
  • Roger Aeschbacher: Maximum innovation - through management by conversation. Ruegger-Verlag, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-7253-0920-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Stephan Fink: Strategic communication for technology and innovations. In: Ansgar Zerfaß, Kathrin M. Möslein (Ed.): Communication as a success factor in innovation management. Wiesbaden 2009, pp. 209-225.
  2. Ansgar Zerfaß, Nadin Ernst: Communication as a success factor in innovation management. Results of a study in German future technology sectors. ( Memento from February 27, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Leipzig 2008. (PDF; 672 kB)
  3. Ansgar Zerfaß, Simone Huck: Innovation Communication: Successfully Positioning New Products, Ideas and Technologies. In: Manfred Piwinger, Ansgar Zerfaß (Hrsg.): Handbuch Unternehmenskommunikation. Wiesbaden 2007, pp. 846-858.
  4. ^ A b David Nordfors: The Potential of Innovation Journalism as a Driver for Economic Growth. In: Claudia Mast, Ansgar Zerfaß (Ed.): Successfully implementing new ideas. The innovation communication manual. Frankfurt am Main 2005, pp. 201-212.
  5. ^ Ansgar Zerfaß: Communication as a constitutive element in innovation management. In: Ansgar Zerfaß, Kathrin M. Möslein (Ed.): Communication as a success factor in innovation management. Wiesbaden 2009, pp. 23-55.
  6. ^ Volker Trommsdorff, Fee Steinhoff: Innovation Marketing. Munich 2007.
  7. Ansgar Zerfaß, Kathrin M. Möslein (ed.): Communication as a success factor in innovation management. Strategies in the age of open innovation. Wiesbaden 2009.
  8. Claudia Mast, Ansgar Zerfaß (Ed.): Successfully implementing new ideas. The innovation communication manual. Frankfurt am Main 2005.
  9. Claudia Mast, Simone Huck, Ansgar Zerfaß: Innovation communication in dynamic markets. Berlin 2006.
  10. Alexander Gerber: Trend study science communication. 2011, accessed October 23, 2011 .
  11. Alexander Gerber: Survey results of the trend study on science communication 2009 .
  12. Alexander Gerber: Results of the Delphi study on science communication . 2010.
  13. Cf. the case studies in: Ansgar Zerfaß, Kathrin M. Möslein (eds.): Communication as a success factor in innovation management. Strategies in the age of open innovation. Wiesbaden; Claudia Mast, Simone Huck, Ansgar Zerfaß: Innovation communication in dynamic markets. Berlin 2006; Claudia Mast, Ansgar Zerfaß (Ed.): Successfully implementing new ideas. The innovation communication manual. Frankfurt am Main.