Internal & External Business Communication
Most companies use a wide variety of media to communicate with their employees, shareholders, customers and the general public. The actual communication medium is typically determined by the content and goal of the message and to which group you are speaking. It’s important for companies to focus both on internal and external communication. Some organizations hire professionals to manage all their communications, such as media planners, public relations firms, professional copywriters and advertising agencies. Other organizations have a department or individual within the company that handles all communication. In either case, the more targeted your message to a niche audience, the more effective it will be.
Internal communication is any information shared with employees and shareholders, including the company’s board of directors or stockholders. Internal information, such as a company policy change, is typically kept private because the message is either irrelevant to outsiders or supposed to be kept within the employee base.
Internal communications should be planned and are meant to influence the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of members of your company’s team. It is how a company builds a relationship and understanding with its employees at all levels. It can drive productivity, loyalty, innovation and belief in the company so all employees understand how they play a role in the overall success of the organization.
Most internal communication is made up of information passed from the employer to the employee or from employee to employee. The content of these types of communications may include information about training, management changes, policies and procedures and meeting invitations. Some common media for these types of messages include:
- internal websites
- conference calls
Shareholders and employees often receive newsletters or quarterly reports about company goals and financial information as well. It can be useful when creating internal communications to involve employees themselves in the creation of the content, so it is relatable and pertinent, helping your employees feel like they have a voice. When done well, internal communications empower your employees to become part of your external communications efforts.
External communication is any communication to clients, prospective customers and the public outside of your organization. External messages may include information about new products or about a company initiative. External messages are usually released to gain customers, build the company brand or influence how the public thinks about your company. Your external communications can help maintain a relationship with the community as well as help your company collect information from customers and potential customers. External communications also include connections to vendors, suppliers, funders and other business partners your company may provide with products or services.
When companies want to release information to customers, clients or other outside stakeholders, they use external communications. Organizations use different communication mediums depending on the type and goal of the information. For example, email, print, television and radio ads inform the public about a sale or new product. Press releases are formal communications that can announce a new leadership hire or a company initiative, such as an upcoming charity auction or professional event, with the intent to get earned media coverage. Websites and social media channels are also considered part of an organization’s external communication platform.
Some companies hire media planners to get their company and their information mentioned in news articles. Also remember to think of your employees as partners when it comes to your external communications. You need to make sure they are fully informed through your internal communications methods in order to help you communicate effectively to your external audiences.
If you are in charge of planning your company’s communications, choose the medium that fits the actual message, whether internal or external, each time you need to communicate. For example, if the information you’re releasing is sensitive or private, you may need to announce it at an in-person meeting rather than broadcasting it via an email to all employees. If your company is having a big sale, you’ll want to use an advertisement to inform the public, rather than the shareholder’s newsletter to announce the event.
Many companies have both internal and external websites that feature the appropriate messages. Considering who your audience is and what message you are sharing each time you communicate is key to business success. And remember not to bombard internal and external audiences with too many communications so your messages don’t get diluted or ignored.