External Business Communication

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A businessman is reading a news letter.
A businessman is reading a news letter. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

While internal communication with employees is important, business owners and managers cannot afford to overlook external communication. This involves everyone outside of your company — media, current clients, prospective customers, government agencies, investors, banks, retailers, suppliers and distributors. According to one communication agency, “The main reason that you have to have good external communication is that it is largely how you will establish your company's identity.” Handling external business communication effectively can represent the difference between an average company and a thriving one. Many enterprises designate a chief communication officer, or CCO, to oversee this critical role.

Social Media and Blogs

Many companies have discovered the power of social media and blogs for communicating with a variety of constituencies. This is a low-cost form of external communication that can literally reach an audience as soon as the originator of a message pushes the “send” button. Blogs are typically based on a company’s website and allow a longer message — usually several hundred words, but many blog posts are much longer. In contrast, social media postings place a premium on brevity — for example, Twitter restricts messages to 140 characters or less. Blogs and social media sites can facilitate significant interactive communication among all parties as a result of comments by readers. With social media in particular, messages can go “viral” within a few hours or less. The speed of the Internet can work both ways with this approach to business communication for your company — positive comments are communicated just as quickly as negative ones.

White Papers, Proposals and Newsletters

For companies seeking more control over who receives their business communication, there are several prudent alternatives to consider. A white paper is an extended written discussion designed for niche audiences that are already familiar with the basics of a topic. While they can be published on a website, white papers are frequently distributed directly to the desired audience. A business proposal can be either a solicited or unsolicited description of why your company deserves to be considered for a specific business opportunity. Newsletters represent an efficient way to communicate with your target audiences on a regular basis — monthly and quarterly versions are especially common. With all three examples — proposal, white paper and newsletter — distribution is laser-focused on specific audiences, and your prospective readers will usually expect higher-quality writing than in many other forms of external business communication. As one result, these business communication options are likely to involve more time and expense to produce.

Press Releases and Articles

Press releases and published articles continue to be a popular way for companies to shape their corporate identity both online and in other news media. While some search engines have devalued articles and press releases, chief communication officers seem likely to continue using these two forms of business communication — a company’s identity depends on much more than a search engine’s fluctuating algorithm.

Emails, Direct Mail and Advertising

There can be unpopular business communication tools that are nevertheless effective. The positive value of “You’ve got mail!” has gradually decreased due to spam and over-saturation of email usage. Nevertheless, the fact that most individuals have an email address as well as a postal address means that email and direct mail are still viable external business communication methods to reach someone. Similarly, advertising continues to be a reliable way of reaching desired audiences.

Interviews and Public Presentations

Personal appearances continue to exert significant influence on your corporate identity. This can be in the form of speeches, media interviews and appearances before a Senate subcommittee — or as simple as a presentation to a local civic organization, such as a Rotary club.

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