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A crash course on the art of external business communication

Effective external communication strategies can go a long way for business success

By the team at SlackApril 2nd, 2024

If your company wants to build a brand, connect with consumers and appeal to potential partners, strong external communications are a must.

A Salesforce consumer survey revealed that 79% of consumers expect consistent interactions across the various departments within a company, and when it comes to company loyalty, consumers value efficiency and a human touch. To tick these boxes and keep customers coming back, you’ll need a stellar external comms plan.

Not sure where to start? Let’s explore the importance of external communication and how to implement an effective strategy for your business.

What is external business communication?

Any exchange of information between a company and its external audiences—such as customers, clients, stakeholders, media and business partners—is external communication. A strong external communication strategy develops a company’s brand, voice and persona to ensure the messaging resonates with its audiences.

And external communication is critical to company success: 98% of people think it’s important for companies to practice effective communication with their customers, according to a survey by Project.co.

Types of external communication

External communications might take place on business messaging platforms or via email, white papers, text messages, social media, conferences, or even packaging and e-commerce.

The different types of external communication include:

  • Advertisements
  • Conferences
  • Customer service
  • Customer surveys
  • Direct messages to consumers and external stakeholders
  • E-books
  • Live events
  • Marketing emails
  • Multimedia marketing
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Recruiting initiatives
  • Sales outreach
  • Social media posts
  • Websites

Internal vs. external communication

While external communication happens between a company and its outside audiences, internal communication takes place within a company.

Internal communications might include company educational materials, cross-functional collaboration efforts, team process documentation, Slack messages, internal emails, businesswide video conferences, meeting presentations and employee contracts. If messaging is happening internally within a business, it’s internal communication.

Priorities, skills and strategies often differ between internal and external communications. External communications reach a broader audience, aiming to improve and uphold a company’s public image. These messages might focus more on brand-building and advertising.

Internal communications, on the other hand, function to keep employees informed and give them the tools they need to do their jobs well. Since these messages are more employee-focused, they should be straightforward and educational and lead with empathy and compassion.

External communication in the digital era

Social media has transformed external communications for modern businesses, making it easy, instant and economical for companies to interact with their customers online. Research shows that nearly all companies use social media as a marketing tool for external communications and low-cost company exposure, often in combination with internal communications initiatives.

Social media for external communications

For example: When a TikTok user went viral for posting a video showing her Stanley cup surviving a car fire, the president of Stanley replied to announce that the company would replace not only the customer’s cup but her car too. This type of public social media interaction simultaneously serves as customer service, public relations and brand advertising.

Traditional vs. modern communication methods

Traditional methods of external communication generally flow one way, from business to user. Press releases, ad campaigns and conferences are examples of traditional, one-way external communications.

Modern technology and media platforms carve a path for more two-way external communications. For example:

  • Social media and influencer marketing create reciprocal connections between brand representatives and consumers
  • Companies can personalize text- and email-based marketing campaigns to their customers and allow for responses to ask questions or provide feedback
  • Productivity platforms like Slack use features like Slack Connect to support business messaging with external partners, vendors and customers directly in your company’s Slack workspace

Choosing the right platform for your business

The right external communication strategy for your company depends on its target audience, intended messaging and budget. When it comes to modern channels, the best communication platforms support both synchronous and asynchronous methods and store all shared knowledge for later reference.

Slack, for example, allows users to interact either asynchronously or in real-time through the platform’s basic messaging features, such as channels and direct messages. All messages are stored and easily searchable within the Slack workspace.

When determining the best external comms methods for your company, consider:

  • Audience: Think about factors like age, gender, location and socioeconomic background. Communication preferences should come into play as well; does your target audience typically prefer traditional or modern methods?
  • Message type: The content of your message helps determine the right medium. Are you sending an urgent, time-sensitive notice? If so, consider text or SMS notification. Press releases better handle formal announcements, and email is great for building relationships.
  • Budget: Cost plays a considerable role in choosing the right method and platform. Smaller businesses can get a leg up by starting a social media presence or leveraging email marketing—both cost-effective communication channels.

Strategies for impactful external communication

A few strategic choices can help you get the most out of your company’s external communication efforts:

Offer value to your audience

In some ways, all external communications are marketing. But no one wants to feel like they’re being marketed to. Level with your audience and develop a rapport by ensuring that your external messages share valuable resources, answer common questions and invite feedback from recipients.

Show some personality

Include a human element in your external communication initiatives. Infuse your messaging with a sense of humor (where appropriate), and use emojis to convey feeling—no extra words required.

Automate, automate, automate

Your communication team’s time is precious, so save as much of it as possible with automation. For example, you can use Slack’s Workflow Builder to automate contracts for vendors or intro messages for new external partners.

External communications and business success

We’ve covered platforms, channels and strategies for external comms. But how does external communication contribute to company success?  s

Boosts brand image and reputation

Don’t just tell customers why your company is worth it; use social media and other external communication platforms to show them why. External communications let you design, push and manage the narrative behind your business’s brand.

Builds customer trust

A good communications strategy builds trust and loyalty between a business and its external audiences. Modern platforms open the door to two-way communication between your company and consumers. While you put out brand-building messaging, you can also collect and address questions and feedback from customers.

When the voice of the customer drives the direction and intent of your business decisions, your brand becomes stronger and more trustworthy.

Fosters relationships with stakeholders

When your partners and stakeholders feel involved in business decisions, they’re more likely to develop brand loyalty. Use external communications to loop your organization’s partners, vendors and clients into company conversations. This can help them feel included and like they’re part of the brand.

Leveraging Slack for enhanced external communications

Slack goes far beyond internal communications. With Slack Connect, you can use the robust communication platform your company already knows to collaborate with partners, clients and other stakeholders.Slack is less formal and more efficient than email, and Slack Connect creates a more collaborative, partner-like relationship between a business and its external audiences. Send external announcements, answer client questions and gather partner feedback without ever leaving your company’s Slack workspace

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