“Communication — the human connection — is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer
A Word on Communication
Throughout the pandemic, video calls, Zooms and good old traditional phone calls have become a lifeboat for so many of us as we face lockdowns, minimal contact and reduced interactions. Thanks to technology, communication has continued, enabling loved ones to stay in touch and businesses to stay operating.
We really can’t underestimate the power of communication. But it’s not only the method we use to communicate that’s important — tones, gestures and body language all form part of our understanding of what someone is trying to convey. These subtle cues mean it’s also easy to misinterpret what someone says. How many times have we found ourselves saying or thinking: “It’s not what they said, it’s how they said it!”?
If communication is so important, yet so easily misunderstood, when we explore communication in business — both internal and external — it’s easy to see that with remote teams, various roles and the biggest change to the workplace that we’ve seen in recent times (arguably ever), considering what makes good communication is vital.
In this article, we delve into what good communication is, how we can achieve it, and why communication strategies are important to business success.
Captivating versus Corny Communication: It’s All About Perception
Many of the world’s leading thinkers have argued that language shapes perception. After all, the language we use creates a particular influence in the mind of the person receiving it. Therefore, the language your business uses will impact how people perceive your brand, its product and services, and position in the marketplace.
Just ask any marketer who uses A-B testing on their content. Two pieces of content may communicate the same idea, but by using different language, leads to different engagement rates. So, the same idea is more or less popular depending on the language used.
An area of communication that businesses often ignore is internal communication. Businesses have specific departments for external communication, namely their marketing, advertising, PR and customer service teams. Yet, often, place less emphasis on thinking about how the company communicates to itself, between employees, departments and wider teams.
Internal and External Communication
Clearly, language choice is important for external communication, but it’s something businesses can overlook when it comes to internal communication. But that’s only one part of the communication conundrum. Before we explore this topic in more depth, let’s first define what we mean by internal and external communication.
What is External Communication?
External communication is the way a business communicates with outside individuals and organisations, such as its shareholders, suppliers and customers.
Many businesses have brand style guides. These documents are designed to help employees create branded content that fits with the brand’s tone and style so customers can recognise the content as speaking in the “brand voice”. Adopting and using the brand’s voice consistently helps people understand the business better, which in turn, increases brand awareness, develops a sense of community and builds trust.
What is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is the way that a business communicates with its internal networks, including its staff, teams and cross-functional departments.
Unfortunately, many businesses overlook the importance of brand style for internal communication, which causes widespread problems, including a sense of ambiguity amongst employees, lack of focus, reduced innovation, and confusion around the business’s direction and priorities.
Are Internal and External Communication completely separate things?
While internal communications and external communications are for completely separate audiences, it’s still important that the teams producing these communications talk to each other to ensure the business’s message reaches both audiences accurately.
For example, to maximise the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, producing an internal briefing document or video is a good idea. Involving relevant teams means that colleagues understand the goals and objectives so they can drive the promotion forward.
Why Is It Important to Build Communication Strategies?
The Importance of Good Internal Communication
A strong internal communication strategy helps improve company morale, productivity and engagement. It supports a business in both its current and future goals by enabling it to overcome obstacles, access opportunities and enable it to progress and grow.
Good internal communication will help teams relay information and build working partnerships, which in turn, increases their sense of job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.
Successful communication needs to come from the leadership team and the entire organisation. It is vital that two-way communication is present, and that all people in the business feel heard and valued. If team members don’t understand the direction of a business or feel their ideas aren’t being listened to then their morale and productivity will reduce and they are far more likely to leave. Whereas if there is open communication, the business can create a happy working environment that fosters innovation and opportunities to grow.
Importance of Good External Communication
A strong external communication strategy helps promote the brand, increase recognition, positively shape the public’s perception of the brand, and ultimately drive more sales. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of language choice for the overall health of a business.
External communication is used to provide all content, from brand news, announcements, product launches and press releases to customers and other stakeholders in the business. The stakeholders’ perceptions of the business are influenced by how it communicates, what it communicates about and the style of its communication.
Good external communication enables a business to reach customers in new markets and will ultimately lead to an increase in sales, however it is also something that can go wrong if the business puts out the wrong message at the wrong time. A business needs to be aware of who it is trying to communicate to and ensure that the message, tone and writing style reflects their needs.
Types Internal and External Communication
Examples of internal communication
- New product/service launch
- Internal company newsletter
- Internal magazine
- Change of procedure/terms and conditions
- Long service awards
- Video update from senior management
Examples of external communication
- Marketing emails
- Social media
- Content Marketing
- Press Releases
Neither of these lists are exhaustive, and a combination of many of them will make up your communication strategy, but they capture many of the daily activities a brand engages in to share information via internal and external communications.
How Can Your Business Improve Communication Strategies?
To improve your business’s internal and external communication, creating a narrative to reflect these is vital.
- Focus on Building Relationships
When creating a communication strategy, it’s important to realise that the number one focus is on relationship building. The words you use and the strategy you employ should help to strengthen relationships within your business and your wider consumers, communities and customers.
- Create a Brand Narrative
To communicate effectively – both internally and externally – your business needs a well-defined voice. A strong brand narrative that understands who the business is (its history, its journey, and its reason for being) and how to communicate this story effectively.
Once you have a brand narrative, share it internally and externally. Your marketing department should already be doing this with your customers, but you need to communicate it with your employees, too.
For instance, when a new employee starts working for you, introduce them to the team and send them relevant and engaging internal marketing content. Recent articles, reports, the company’s personality and outlook, its market position and style guidelines.
Everyone in the business should understand the brand personality. This will help them to communicate effectively with each other, and in line with the company’s voice. It helps employees and third parties know exactly who you are.
Businesses will often ignore the importance of internal communication, but it is every bit as important as external communication. The way your business communicates within itself will inevitably influence its communication with customers – get it right and it can lead to growth, get it wrong and it can lead to decline.
If you need help creating a strong internal and external communication strategy, we can help. Get in touch with us today.