What Are External Communications? (+ Types and Best Practices)

Rana Bano
March 21, 2023
min read
December 4, 2023
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Discover the importance of external communications for your business and how to enhance your external communications strategy.
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Effective communication is the lifeblood that keeps an organization running smoothly. It ensures everyone involved is on the same page and working towards a common goal despite the daily hustle and bustle.

Generally speaking, there’s a lot of emphasis on internal communications. Send instant messages, share regular updates and schedule meetings/presentations. Basically, maintain a consistent communication flow so that people within an organization have the knowledge they need to streamline business processes and move forward.

But what about your people on the outside? Your organization’s customers, investors and suppliers are just as crucial to its success, which means they should be communicated with effectively as well.

Think about it: as an investor, wouldn’t you want to know how your investment is performing? Or, as a customer wants to be kept in the loop about the latest product offerings or the status of your last order?

That’s where external communication comes into the picture.

What are external communications?

External communications are the processes an organization uses to convey critical information to and build relationships with individuals and entities outside of its immediate environment. This includes stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, partners, investors, government agencies, other businesses and even law enforcement agencies. 

The primary purpose of external communication is to interact and achieve common objectives in a way that it’s clear, effective and aligned with the organization’s vision and values. To achieve this, you need to tailor a careful orchestration of messages, strategies and channels according to the unique needs and expectations of each external stakeholder group.

In essence, successful external communication requires a deep understanding of these groups, as well as a strong commitment to transparency and ethical conduct. This will help you foster strong relationships and build trust, ensuring your organization’s sustained success and growth.

Internal communications vs. external communication

Internal communication refers to the exchange of information between the members of an organization. It aims to foster a deep connection between internal audiences, such as the employees, consultants and independent contractors/freelancers, to create a sense of belonging and identity while aligning them with the company’s vision, mission and values. 

The main objective of internal communication is to share information between various business units and departments. On the other hand, external communication focuses on maintaining relationships or exchanging critical information with outside parties. 

Compared to external communication, the frequency of internal communication is significantly higher, as its participants (employees and management) communicate with each other on a daily basis. 

Despite the differences, both internal and external communications are extremely important for your business to survive. Employees cannot do their jobs if they don’t know your big-picture goals, and customers won’t buy your product if you don’t tell them it exists in the first place. 

Make sense?

What are the different types of external education?

There are two main types of external communications: marketing and client-facing.

  • Marketing external communication includes all messages and interactions your organization uses to promote its products or services to potential customers. The marketing communications plan consists of a wide range of activities, such as public relations, advertising, social media and email marketing to drive awareness and create an active interest in your offerings. 

All these efforts work together to ultimately drive your organization’s sales and revenue.

  • Client-facing external communication refers to all the interactions your organization has with its existing clients and customers to maintain positive relationships, ensuring their continued satisfaction with its products or services. This includes answering phone calls and emails to provide prompt customer service and resolve complaints. 

Unsurprisingly, providing excellent customer service is a key aspect of client-based external communications.

Your customer support team must be prepared to quickly respond to inquiries and concerns, ensuring the answers are given timely and effectively. Executives should ensure their communication with customers makes them feel valued and heard and is consistent with the organization’s brand values and mission.

Both marketing and client-facing external communication are crucial for your organization to succeed. Carefully crafting your messages and engaging with stakeholders thoughtfully and strategically will not only help you build stronger long-term relationships with customers but also promote/upsell your products or services to ensure long-term success.

How to identify the type of communication you need?

You can leverage external communications to build stronger stakeholder relationships while promoting your brand in the marketplace. But to do this, you need to know which communication channels and messages to focus on.

Use the following steps to identify the external communications you need:

Step 1: Identify your stakeholders

Understanding who your stakeholders are is the first step in effective communication. After all, you cannot tell your message and choose the appropriate communication channel if you don’t know who you’re targeting with your efforts.

As mentioned, the stakeholders can be your organization’s customers, suppliers, partners, investors, government agencies and other relevant groups.

Step 2: Understand stakeholder needs

Once you’ve identified your stakeholders, consider their needs and expectations. Think about the information they need and how they would like to receive it.

Some stakeholders may prefer formal communication channels, while others might like a more casual approach. When you have a better understanding of their preferences, you‘re in a better position to suitably tailor your message and pick a delivery method that meets their needs effectively.

Step 3: Analyze your industry

Every industry has its own communication practices, requirements and regulations. If you don’t have enough information about yours, simply take a look at what your competitors are doing. While you’re at it, also analyze your industry to identify emerging trends and understand the external communication channels that resonate best with stakeholders.

This will help you develop communication strategies that are both relevant and compliant.

Step 4: Determine your communication objectives

Your communication objectives should align with your organization’s big-picture goals. 

For example, if boosting sales is a top priority, your communication efforts should be focused on connecting with more prospects and upselling or cross-selling to existing customers to drive leads and conversions and generate more revenue, respectively. On the other hand, if you want to create more brand awareness, you should start launching effective marketing and advertising campaigns.

Step 5: Choose the right communication channels

Choosing the right communication channel is critical for effective external communication. It’s how you can effectively reach your target audience and convey your message in a way that best resonates with them. 

How do you choose the right communication channel? Consider your stakeholder preferences. 

For example, if you’re reaching out to investors and government agencies, traditional channels like email or direct email make more sense. But if you’re reaching out to your target customers that consist primarily of millennials, you should focus on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. You can also reach out to them through your mobile app, as young people prefer mobile experiences. Especially when affordable app development is not a dream anymore, creating a mobile app can be a strategic move to engage with your target audience

In addition, consider the nature of the message you want to convey. If you're sharing sensitive or elaborate information, email would be the most appropriate channel as opposed to, say, advertising or social media. On the other hand, social media platforms are more effective for promoting a new product or service, as they let you reach a broader audience.

Try to stay up-to-date with emerging communication technologies and trends. As communication preferences change, new channels may become more popular, and existing channels may lose their effectiveness. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your communication channels and adjust your approach as needed. 

Step 6: Develop your external communication plan

With all the information you’ve gathered, it’s now time to create a comprehensive external communication plan for your organization. This will provide a roadmap for your communication efforts, helping you stay focused and organized while ensuring your messages are consistent and targeted.

Outline the messages, channels and timeline for your communication efforts. Make sure they align with your objectives and are tailored to your audience. 

5 Examples of successful external communication

The main purpose of external communications is to share your organization's marketing mix with the world, giving you a platform to effectively communicate your brand purpose, development and personality to the public. 

Here are external communication examples, also called the different types of external communications, you can use to achieve this:

1. Website content & blogging

Today, having a strong online presence is essential for all businesses, regardless of their size and industry. After all, whenever someone considers doing business with a company, the first thing to do is check them out on Google.

That’s where the website content and blogging come into the picture. Not only do they give you (arguably) the best platform to advertise your business and build your bottom line, but also provide potential customers with valuable information about your company and its offerings. 

In fact, companies with a blog generate up to 67 percent more leads monthly than those without. That’s because every blog post you create is another indexed page on your website, making it more likely for customers to find you when they search online. Further, implementing SEO workflows can help your blog post rank higher in search results, increasing visibility and driving organic traffic.

What’s more, adding a contact form on your website and regularly posting blogs allows for two-way communication with customers, helping you gain valuable feedback to improve business and build relationships.

2. Live events and conferences

Live events and conferences are powerful tools to enhance your organization’s external communication strategy.

They create opportunities to showcase your brand personality and culture, building trust and establishing a stronger connection with potential clients and partners, while allowing you to effectively engage with your audience on a personal level. These in-person interactions can lead to more meaningful conversations that can potentially turn into long-lasting business relationships.

You can also use these events to stay up-to-date on industry trends and gain valuable insights from experts in your field. For example, by attending a conference focused on digital marketing, you can learn more about the latest tools and strategies to improve your online presence and grow your business.

Easy to see why 80 percent of B2B marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success.

3. Email and newsletters

Email marketing is another great example of a successful external communication strategy. Not only is it cost-effective, but also an effective way to stay in touch with your customers, shareholders and investors. With a well-crafted email campaign, you can deliver targeted messages to specific stakeholder groups, fostering engagement and building long-term relationships.

Another advantage of email marketing is its ability to provide measurable results. 

With the right tools, you can track open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates for every email or newsletter you send and accordingly refine your campaigns to improve results. This data also provides valuable insights into what your target audience is genuinely interested in, allowing you to tailor your messaging to better meet their expectations.

4. Social media

Social media has transformed the way businesses communicate with their audience, making it a critical part of any external communication strategy. 

With over 4.2 billion active social media users in 2021 — and the number projected to increase to 4.4 billion by 2025 — leveraging platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram gives you access to a massive audience like no other. However, every platform attracts different demographics, so you must know who your customers are and where they spend their time online to effectively advertise your products and services.

Aside from advertising, social media is also useful for engaging with the audience and building positive relationships. You can respond to customer inquiries and resolve issues to provide streamlined customer support as quickly as possible, improving brand reputation and building stronger customer connections.

5. Press releases

While there’s nothing wrong with the new and creative ways to communicate with stakeholders, sometimes the old-fashioned way of getting the word out is still effective — and that’s where press releases step in.

Press releases allow you to communicate with the media and the public. By issuing a public release through reputable media outlets, you can get your message across to journalists, bloggers and other media outlets to increase brand visibility and reach new customers. 

Not only are these an excellent way to generate publicity, but they also help establish your business's credibility and reputation, making it appear more trustworthy. Case in point—over 44 percent of journalists use press releases as a primary source of information. This shows press releases are still an essential external communication tool if you want to communicate with the media.

5 Best practices for effective external communication

At this stage, you’re probably wondering what measures you can take to enhance your external communications so that it helps generate the interest and attention you need and create powerful and positive relationships for your organization’s long-term survival. 

We’ve got you; here are six best practices you can apply to make the most of your external communication strategy:

1. Know your audience

Even the best communication tricks, marketing hacks and network strategies will be a waste if they don’t resonate with your audience. For your messages to be effective, you need to talk in your audience's language, which is why you need to have an in-depth understanding of your different stakeholder segments.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Investors and shareholders: People outside of your organization that provide the necessary funds and resources to keep your business growing.
  • Influencers and partners: Individuals you might want to work with in the future to develop your brand.
  • Prospects and customers: People who buy your products or services, boosting sales and generating revenue.
  • Government and law enforcement agencies: Groups regulating your industry, ensuring your organization is in compliance with applicable standards and regulations. 

As each group has its own motivations for your brand, create a unique buyer persona for each group to get the focus you need to better connect with the right people and generate positive responses.

2. Build your tone of voice

An external communication strategy helps shape the public narrative and how audiences connect with your organization. And a key element of building one is knowing your brand’s tone of voice.

Think about how you want your audience to remember, engage and talk about your brand. This will give your external communications a tone and personality that people can associate with your company. The idea is to deliver quality communications while sounding genuine.

Avoid emulating industry trends as much as possible so your style and voice stand out. Let’s not forget general communications can be boring. If you want to get audiences excited, you need to think of creative and innovative ways to be unique. 

3. Choose the right platforms

Identify the platforms where your target audience spends their time and where you can communicate most effectively with them. For example, you can leverage social media to reach a large number of your customers, but if you want to work with an industry publication to connect with partners and investors, you’ll need to send emails and issue press releases.

You have plenty of options to get your messages across, including television, radio and in-person events, but focus on choosing the right platform that gives volume to your message and improves ROI.

4. Prioritize delivering value

Don’t be like those brands that make a lot of noise without actually delivering anything of value. 

For example, instead of emphasizing how amazing your product or services are, mention information your targeted audience segment will actually care about. Let’s say you’re reaching out to investors for funding, think about what they would like to know — perhaps, you can mention your average annual profit or how you deliver ROI.

This will help you make a solid connection and ensure your message resonates with the audience. 

5. Get a process documentation tool

When building your organization’s external communication plan, you must also take measures to document and share processes and procedures clearly and in straightforward language. This will eliminate any confusion and ensure team members are in the loop on what needs to be done and how.

Luckily, you can use a process documentation tool like Scribe to automate process documentation and significantly improve document productivity.

Scribe is a modern way to make how-to documents.

Scribe turns your processes into step-by-step guides or work instructions, complete with annotated screenshots and text. You can then share them with team members to improve external communication consistency when communicating with external stakeholders. 

The fact that Scribe also serves as a content library is another advantage. Save and categorize external communication assets, while knowing only those team members you’ve invited to work on the project can access them.

See one in action:

Don’t take our word for it — here’s what our customers say about Scribe:

Ready to build a strong external communication strategy for your organization? Start with Scribe for free.

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