Productivity

External Communication – Definition, Types, Examples & Tips for Building Your External Communication Plan

Explore external communication's impact on organizational growth, different types and solid tips for building your next strategy.

Introduction

You have an incredible idea that no one in your industry has. Or you've discovered a money-making niche that most businesses in your industry have probably overlooked or underestimated. Now, you've spent a great amount of time fine-tuning your USP until it becomes rock solid.

Fast forward to a few weeks or years down the line, you begin to build your team 🚀— people who will passionately help you sell your product or service to your customers. And most importantly, you need to find a way to generate revenue.

That's where external communication comes in. You need external communications to help you sell the unique nature of your offering to key stakeholders like customers, investors, agency partners, contributors, shareholders and investors. 

Simply put, if you want your organization to be recognized and want people to know about your product or service, building a strong external communications strategy is one of your best bets.

This article explores what external communication is and its relevance to organizational growth highlights the different types of external communication and provides solid tips for building your next external communications strategy. 

Read on!

What is external communication?

External Communication is the transfer or exchange of information between a company and external entities such as customers, businesses, suppliers, partners, investors, government agencies, and law enforcement. A customer’s feedback is also external communication. 

Every business needs to maintain a good relationship and a positive brand image with other organizations or individuals to achieve its goals. This could be transferring, sharing or exchanging information with external entities through external communication channels.

A company's external communication objectives should be designed to promote cooperation with external groups and maintain a positive brand image.

What are external communications used for?

External communications are used to exchange information intended for educating, informing, or entertaining people outside your organization. This may include:

  • Product developments.
  • Company achievements.
  • New releases and service announcements.
  • Discounts, promotions and giveaways.
  • Brand identity.

The difference between internal & external communication

External and internal communications are two extremely important methods for achieving effective communication in organizations. While they serve different purposes, the premise of both types of communication is to improve the image of a business and help it achieve success.

Internal communication

Internal communication is defined as the exchange of information that occurs within an organization between its internal audiences (employees, consultants or independent contractors). In internal communication, information can be exchanged via memos, emails, written documents, telephone, intranet, and other types of communication channels the organization uses.

The aim of internal communication is to foster connection between employees and increase a sense of belonging and identity among workers to align with the company's vision, mission and values.

External communication

External communication, on the other hand, involves exchanging information and messages with the outside world beyond the internal structure of an organization.

Therefore, the difference between both is while internal communication is used to foster and maintain a positive work environment, external communications is used to increase sales and grow the business.

Additionally, both internal and external communications should possess the following features:

  • Understand the needs of the target audience.
  • Proper choice of words for communication.
  • It must promote two-way communication.
  • Must be clear, concise, error-free, jargon-free, and written in simple language.
  • Explain and maintain the reasons for communication.

Why is external communication important?

External communication is important because it's a part of your employer brand. How you relate with external stakeholders determines what they say about your organization when you're not there.

It's about connecting with people outside of your organization and helping your company better communicate its brand purpose, products and services, and personality to the public.

Some of the benefits of external communications include: 

  • Developing community relations: External communication acts as a communication tool and linkage between organizations and people. It's a major stakeholder in transferring news and information to stakeholders, suppliers, customers, and other people.
  • Communicating and leveraging information: While the main goal of external communication is to share important news and information; however, it is also useful in accumulating all the information from the outside world to optimize the brand presence in front of the target audience by the right use of external communications and media relations.
  • Building brand identity: A business's growth and success isn't solely dependent on sales. Variables like image perception also play a huge role. External communication allows firms to create and establish a good brand image in the eyes of new as well as existing customers.
  • Optimizing external network: External communications allow a business to identify the preferences of its customers to enhance the sales of its products or services. Thankfully, we're in a digital era where businesses have access to digital external communication platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc. Through these platforms, organizations can increase brand awareness and recognition and conveniently reach potential customers. It also serves as a cost-effective promotion.
  • Good relations with suppliers: Maintaining good relationships with suppliers is crucial to any business's success. Great external communications with suppliers can build long-lasting business relationships that would benefit both parties.

Types of external communications

External communications allow you to share your marketing mix with the world — by communicating your brand purpose, developments, and personality to the public. There are various external communication tools an organization can use to exchange information with external stakeholders.

No matter which communication tool your business uses, it plays an important role in a company's marketing mix and contributes to the overall marketing strategy.

Check out the different types of external communication tools you can use:

Social media

Approximately one in three (34 percent) use social media to learn about or discover new products, services, or brands. Social media has become one of the most vital external communication tools for many businesses. From offering an unparalleled level of access to and communication with customers to helping businesses easily sell their products or services and aiding in building a brand's image — social media's benefits are numerous.

For you to achieve a rock-solid external communication strategy using social media, you’ll need to identify the platforms your audience uses the most. Once you've discovered this information, begin to build your social media strategy to serve them. 

Scribe top tip: External communications aren't limited to advertising only. It can also be used for customer support purposes. For example, between 2020 to 2021, the volume of consumers who preferred using social messaging for customer service increased exponentially by 110 percent. So, start thinking about how you can answer customer queries. Plus, handling customer service requests via social media channels is up to 12 times cheaper than handling the same requests by phone.

Email

Most employees communicate with third parties via email. While many businesses use email as an internal communication tool, it's recommended that organizations establish a set of email guidelines or policies that employees must adhere to when communicating with external stakeholders.

Your email guidelines could include a list of words to use or avoid, a template for email signatures that contains vital company information, and a list of recommended salutations and professional email sign-offs.

Newsletters

Newsletters are used to illustrate the latest offers to users to increase sales and create long-term relationships with various external parties. Since email newsletters allow businesses to connect and communicate with customers more meaningfully than traditional advertising, it's important to have a template and a schedule for email newsletters to ensure consistency in newsletter quality and publishing timeframe. 

Presentations/brand information

External communication types don’t just include emails and social media. It encompasses every channel you can use to reach out to investors, suppliers, and shareholders. This includes sales materials, slides, presentations, etc.

Live events & conferences

While your company blog might capture the attention of your potential and existing clients, you need another channel for interacting with potential partners, shareholders, resellers, and professional partners. Live events, seminars, and conferences are great for improving your external corporate communication strategy.

Press releases

While press releases might not be the most modern or go-to external communications strategy today, it still remains the most trustworthy content format for media.

Press releases issued through reputable media outlets and journalism pages can help improve a brand's reputation and credibility. They also help you connect with new customers or potential investors on different channels.

Website content & blogging

Today, when someone claims to run a business, your first instinct is to “Google” them to see if they have a web presence. Content marketing isn't only an effective form of advertising, but when done right, can boost a company's revenue bottom line.

There’s a good reason why 56 percent of marketers who leverage blogging say it's effective and 10% say it generates the biggest return on investment. Additionally, companies that blog generate up to 67 percent more leads than their counterparts who don't. 

Therefore, when building your external communications strategy, your website should become the focal point for all of your other brand-building campaigns. Every post you create is one step further to customers finding you when they search online. 

3 Companies with great external communications

Here are four companies practicing external communications well.

Buffer

The social media management giant needs no introduction. Buffer publishes almost everything — ranging from their story to revenues, equity shares of the entire team, financials, salaries and how money is been spent.  They do this to promote transparency and build an authentic and trusted community.

This isn't surprising though: According to CEO Joel Gascoigne, "transparency is one of Buffer's core values. Transparency breeds trust and trust is the foundation of great teamwork."

HubSpot

CRM software giant, HubSpot, requires no introduction as well. One of the many unique things about the company is its emphasis on transparency — which is displayed internally within the organization and externally to its customers and community.

HubSpot co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dharmesh Shah once published an article on his wiki page called "Ask Dharmesh Anything." And that's exactly what "HubSpotters" around the globe did -- engaging in interesting discussions directly with him.

Google

Transparency is one of the cornerstones at Google, as seen in Laszlo Bock's Work Rules!

According to Bock, at the company's weekly TGIF all-hands meeting, former co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, hosted the entire company (in person and by video) for updates from the prior week, including product demonstrations, welcoming of new hires, and most importantly, thirty minutes of fielding questions from anyone in the company, on any topic. 

6 Tips for building your external communication plan

If you've read to this point, you're probably looking for tips on how to build your external communications framework. When implemented correctly, external communications not only generate brand awareness but also give your organization an opportunity to create powerful, effective and long-lasting relationships.

Consider the following six tips for building your external communications strategy:

1. Know your audience

You could put in the best resources and use the best marketing hacks or networking strategies — and none of them would convert if you don't know who you are communicating with and how to communicate with them.  Your external communications strategy is likely to contain different audience segments such as:

  • Investors and shareholders: People outside of your company responsible for keeping your business growing.
  • Influencers and partners: Individuals you might want to work with in the future to help you achieve your business goals.
  • Customers and clients: The people who buy your products or invest in your services.
Scribe top tip: Each of these groups has its own distinct motivations for relating with your business. Therefore, you should create buyer personas for each group to help you better connect with them and generate positive responses.

2. Select the right platforms

The more you know about your audience, the more you’ll be able to figure out where they spend their time, and where you’ll be best able to communicate with them. Luckily, there are various platforms that can be used to pass information. Ultimately, the right platform should bolster your communications and improve your ROI.

3. Deliver real value

As I mentioned earlier, external communication is a big part of a company's employer brand. Therefore, you should be strategic and intentional about what you put out there, and be able to back it up with real, quantifiable results. You won't achieve better results if your goal is to only invest a lot of time and effort into your external communications strategy. Delivering real value to each segment of your audience is the other part of the mix you shouldn't ignore or underestimate. 

4. Be relatable

Running a business doesn't translate to being overly conservative or excluding you and your employees from having worthwhile conversations with external parties. When designing your external communication strategies,  examine your user personas carefully and identify the different preferences that each segment has.

This means looking at your customers, suppliers, partners or shareholders (amongst others), and identifying their views and values—  and how they relate to your organization. For instance, potential shareholders might be more likely to associate with your brand if your external communications efforts include ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) initiatives and updates.

5. Listen & respond

Communication is a two-way street. Don't be solely focused on sending out information that you forget there are people on the other end who want to be heard too. Actively listen to what your external network wants from you and respond in kind. For example, social media is a great platform for answering customers' questions and getting them involved in your brand's growth. The more you listen, the easier it becomes to gather useful information about your company.

6. Show off your unique personality

External communications is a good method for showing off your unique voice and personality — since your external community is looking for reasons to connect with you.

Show up as authentic and real. Don’t just copy what your competitors are doing. Analyze what’s already been done in your industry and find a compelling and engaging way to stand out. For example, you could serve your customers by offering social media customer support or make your in-person presentations interactive with VR and AR technology.

Simply put, make communication an experience for your external community. It will always keep your brand at the top of their minds.

Final Thoughts: Build a strong external communications strategy with Scribe!

Most likely, your company has various pathways for its external communication strategies. And as the organization grows, it becomes important to regulate your communication channels to protect your business interests.

External communication policies and procedures need to be documented in a clear, easy-to-understand and straightforward language. 

Luckily, Scribe can help you document your policies in seconds. Scribe…

  • Instantly turns your processes into step-by-step guides or instructions.
  • With the step-by-step guides, you can improve external communications consistency when communicating with external stakeholders.
  • Saves you time. This is particularly important for new employees hired to handle external communication activities, wondering "how do I…?"  You can cut repetitive training time in half by sending them a Scribe instead.
  • Helps you share your guaranteed tips and tricks with new hires — giving you and them the time to focus on other tasks.
  • Integrates with your favorite tools — you can embed Scribes with your cloud platforms ☁️ even if you're on the go, anywhere, anytime!
  • Allows you to collaborate and share your external communications template with your colleagues in multiple formats — all in one click!
  • Allows you to search for documents and content using titles, descriptions and keywords.
  • Serves as a content library for saving and categorizing your external communications assets.
  • Protects your communications strategy and assets — which can only be saved and accessed by team members invited to work on the project. It also allows you to redact sensitive information.

Here's in one action:

Not convinced yet? See what some of our users are saying about Scribe:

Ready to create effective external communications templates and strategies? Get Scribe for free!