Businesses thrive on solid communication.
Giving updates on projects, scheduling meetings, and sending an instant message that there’s birthday cake in the kitchen all give people within an organization the knowledge they need to move forward (or enjoy a sweet treat).
But what about people on the outside? Customers, suppliers, and investors also require information to decide whether or not to do business with an organization. They are equally involved in the business’ success and must be communicated with to maintain a positive relationship and reputation.
All business communication happens between two entities with the intent of sending and receiving information. However, the parties involved determine if the communication is happening internally or externally.
Internal vs external communication
No matter the type of communication or specific channel being used, business communication happens either internally or externally.
What is the difference between internal and external communication?
Internal communication occurs when the members of an organization exchange information with each other. External communication takes place when those members interact and communicate with an outside party.
Effective internal and external communication are both crucial to the success of a business. Let’s dive into each one, when they are used, and some examples of each.
Internal communication takes place when people who are apart of an organization send and receive information to each other. It is exclusive to colleagues, coworkers, or anyone else that is a member of the business. Nothing is being shared with the public.
There are a lot of situations that call for communicating internally. Some are more serious than others, but the successful transferring of information should never be undervalued. Proper communication can make a big difference in any situation.
Internal communication can be sent among a variety of people on a wide range of communication channels. You can use internal communications software to instant message a coworker about the staff meeting, while simultaneously receiving an email from your boss about the new hires starting next week.Businesses primarily use internal communications to maintain a functioning work environment. Here, the word “functioning” covers simple day to day activities of a workplace as well as big-picture functions.
Below is an example of internal communications in the form of an email. Someone is addressing the team and providing them with simple yet useful information about signing up for a headshot. It is a completely internal function and no information was released to anyone outside of the organization.
Internal communication is also a great tool for reiterating the big-picture goals, mission, vision, and values of a business. While everybody has personal goals and a general idea of what the company stands for, the actual statements can often be forgotten.
|Related: Read up on workplace messaging and why it's so important to the modern office.|
Below is an example of a refresher of goals for the month. Big-picture projects are important for employees to keep in mind as they go about their work. Providing a reminder in a presentation, memo, or email attachment is a good internal communication practice.
A solid internal communications strategy can make the difference between a business operating like a well-oiled machine or flopping like a sinking ship.
External communication is the transferring of information between a business and another entity outside of the organization. People within the organization might still have access to the message, but it is intended for an external audience.
External communication is a function of a marketing plan. The messages sent are crafted towards a specific audience with the goal of earning new customers and increasing revenue. Developing the right message can be done within the organization or by marketing services providers that will tailor the materials for you.
External communication includes a lot of different types of messages. Advertisements, press releases, social media posts, and even your company’s website all fall under the category of external communication.
Below is an example of a tweet from G2 that was intended for a public audience. Information gathered within the organization was compiled and then released to external audiences. Keeping these outside entities informed will hopefully lead to them becoming familiar with the business and interested in what they provide.
Mass communication methods are helpful when members of a large audience could benefit from the same information, but businesses also have methods to communicate directly with individuals. Below is an example of a chat window, where anyone can submit a question and eventually receive the information they need.
External communication is what keeps consumers up to date. Whether they were originally seeking the information or not, making sure worthwhile information reaches external audiences can lead to them understanding your business and becoming loyal customers.
Talk it out
Businesses need active internal and external communication skills to survive. An uninformed person cannot add value to a business. Employees can’t do their job if they don’t know the company’s goals, and people can’t buy your new product if you don’t tell them it exists first. Find the right communication tools for internal and external audiences and keep the information flowing.
Want to learn more about how to communicate in the workplace? Check out our resource on the types of communication and tips for using each one!