External & Internal Comms in a Social Media Landscape

Mark Knight is a Director at Four Broadgate the London PR agency, specialists in financial services public relations amongst many other services.

Internal and external lines of communication are important functions in business, but what do they mean, how similar are they, and how has social media affected businesses’ approach to them?

Internal and External Communications: Explained

Internal communications are all about the messages that are communicated within a company. The chief aim of internal communications is to help businesses achieve their objectives, through creating an understanding between employees at different levels and building interactions. This involves utilising the right channels, conveying the company message effectively, and determining the criteria for success, amongst other things.

External communications are defined as information a business releases to people outside the company such as shareholders, customers or clients. Like with internal matters, communications with the outside world are carefully considered to give the right message, whether it’s to the media or potential customers and whether it’s good or bad news.

While there is a difference between internal and external communications, the growth of social media has blurred the line in some respects and elevated internal communications to a more prominent role for many businesses. At a recent PRWeek conference where various communications directors came together to discuss this subject, a number of interesting points were raised on internal and external communications.

The Increasing Role of Internal Communications

One point made by Thomas Coops of the English National Opera at PRWeek was that since the recession, many businesses have given greater emphasis to internal communications as part of their restructuring processes. There are a number of reasons for this, including the improved availability of company social media platforms offering feedback and opportunities for discussion.

The need to create a consistent message between internal and external communication lines is another development many businesses are focussing on. Social media has created greater means of interaction between customers and employees, so aligning an internal message with an external one will ensure customers get the right information all the time, which is vital for creating a brand identity.

Seadrill communications director Iain Cracknell also raised the point that social media outlets such as Twitter can deliver news much quicker than other forms of media. Internal social media platforms can, therefore, spread company messages more effectively than paper-based methods or via email, in a similar way to how marketing campaigns are communicated to target markets nowadays.

To add to this, Conor McKechnie of GE Healthcare says that the utilisation of social media platforms for spreading company messages can save on resources, especially when employees are writing their own messages and sending them to other employees within the company.

Both forms of communication are vitally important to businesses, but the rise of social media has altered emphasis somewhat. How does your company manage these two lines of communication and has social media affected the way you spread information?


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