If you haven’t read our previous articles about communication, check them out to get a good foundation before diving deeper into this article.
Remember, we defined communication as the sending and receiving of messages through verbal or nonverbal means.
Within a business organization, communication happens internally and externally.
We defined external communication as communication that happens (usually) from the business outward. This communication comes from within the organization and is sent into the greater world beyond its employee base. This can manifest within organizations as public relations, corporate communications, marketing communications, customer relations, etc. While there are often people or departments devoted to creating external communication messaging, many messages are also being sent unintentionally from business organizations.
Types of External Communication
Let’s take a closer look at the audiences of external communication.
Customer communication is a hot topic, and rightly so. For years, companies have realized the potential for growth within their customer base. These people have already aligned with the business in some way and may even be fans. Whether they come back as repeat customers or spread the word about a business, this is a powerful group of people for a business. In many ways, customer communication is arguably the most essential form of external communication.
This can refer to an industry’s community, a geographical community, a community of like-minded people, etc. Community refers to commonality; when speaking to various communities, organizations must cater their messages to each audience. This is a great way to shed a positive light on a business and create interest within intended audiences.
The general public is the final external audience we will discuss here. External communication to the public may consist of branding campaigns, marketing efforts, and customer initiatives. This form of communication generally helps people understand who the business is, what they do, and why people should care. Communication with the public is critical for growing a successful brand and business.
Communication’s Influence on Brand
Everything a business does, says, portrays, or broadcasts reflects that business. Each activity sends a message to their audience, reflecting who they are and what they stand for. Every action reflects their brand.
For example, imagine a large, national brand that promotes an upcoming sale. Perhaps the verbal message is “15% off now through Sunday… don’t miss out…” and the nonverbal message includes an excited tone and brightly colored graphics. From this message sent by the company, the receiver of that communication may understand that this is a fun business with much enthusiasm for their products, and they also have a sale. Three weeks from now, the person who saw that message from the company may have forgotten about the sale but still remembers that brand as being positive and exciting. The communication sent out from that company impacted the receiver’s perspective on their brand.
Why should we care? Well, people’s impressions influence their perspectives, determining whether they become interested in your company and its products/services and eventually whether you’ve gained a customer and fan of your brand.
Intentional vs. Unintentional Communication
The catch is that all communication may not be intentional. While the company may have intentionally wanted to share the news about their sale earlier, the interpretation of them being a fun company may have been coincidental. Unfortunately, unintentional messages are often not very positive.
For example, let’s say an organization plans to advertise an upcoming customer appreciation day in the local newspaper. The known external communication is whatever information is verbally shared in the advertisement – perhaps the dates and details of the event, along with the nonverbal communication – maybe the colors, fonts, and images that reflect the company’s brand. These elements are the intended communication from the company to the community. Less likely to be noticed is how the employee who worked on the advertisement interacted with the representative at the newspaper. Although their interactions were not the planned communication, if the employee was very rude to the newspaper representative, that employee unintentionally communicated negative things about the company.
Communication does not end with what is intended. Often, what is unintended gives an even better picture of the heart and culture of the company.
That is why communication is so important! Companies can communicate with their customers, the community, and the public. Whether their messages are intentional or not, each reflects on that organization’s brand. People’s experiences create impressions in their minds, and those impressions help determine what people think of an organization, which will determine how they respond to the message.
Have a Plan for Communication
While companies cannot control every communication that happens during a year/month/day/week/hour, the importance of having a plan is evident. The better the plan, the better the results. This applies to every area of business, but especially to communication. Organizations should create holistic, internal and external communication plans and processes, which can be followed and carried out by the entire team.
Creating a plan gives you a better chance of sending messages on purpose, having your message received and understood as intended by the right audience, and growing your business.
Contact our team for more information or help with communication planning and strategies, as well as more information on this and other communication topics.