What is External Communication?

External communication is the exchange of information between an organization and any individual or group outside of it. It includes all forms of correspondence, including written, i.e. emails, press releases, as well as verbal, such as video or phone calls.


Organizations use external communication to correspond with suppliers, investors, customers, regulatory bodies, and the general public. It’s key to building relationships and establishing trust. To be effective, brands should utilize an external communication strategy that governs the tone and content and ensures that the appropriate channel is used.


In today’s digital age, external communication has become more complex and challenging. Brands have to navigate a wide range of social media platforms and channels while ensuring consistency and relevance. However, with the right strategies and tools, businesses can leverage external communication to achieve success.



What is the Goal of External Communication?

The primary purpose of external communication is to establish and maintain relationships with external stakeholders. This can lead to various benefits for the organization, such as:


To Build Brand Awareness

By communicating effectively brands can increase their visibility and exposure which helps to improve customer acquisition and retention. There are few marketing techniques more effective than simply being visible and present in mind when customers make a consumer decision.


Social media posts, blog publication, newsletter dissemination, and video broadcasting – these are all tried and tested methods of increasing brand exposure. It’s not just about promoting the product directly, but ensuring the brand is known to potential customers. External communication is the cornerstone behind this approach.


To Increase Stakeholder Engagement

External communication enables brands to engage directly with their external stakeholders. This interaction helps to increase loyalty, brand advocacy, and awareness. Some examples of interactive external communications include surveys, polls, feedback requests, and outreach programs.


To Leverage Consumer Information

External communication doesn’t just enable brands to promote their products to the market. It also presents an opportunity to glean insights and leverage information about their consumer base. Which posts get the most traction? What caused the most engagement? This kind of data helps brands to better understand their market and tailor their communications accordingly.


To harness supplier relationships

External communication isn’t just used to attract clients. It’s also vital in maintaining relationships with suppliers and vendors. By sharing information about their requirements, companies can ensure a steady supply of goods and services.



Types of External Communication

There are several types of external communication that organizations use to interact with the outside world, these include:


Public Relations (PR)

This involves managing the brand’s image and reputation. PR uses various tactics to, such as guest posting, press releases, and community outreach to build credibility and trust.



Advertising is perhaps the most common type of external communication. This type involves the direct promotion of a brand’s product or services via TV, print, or social media. It’s used to generate leads, build brand awareness, and increase sales.


Social Media

Social media posting is an organic approach to building brand awareness. Unlike social media advertising, which involves creating paid Ads that appear on a user’s feed, organic social is the brand posting directly from their accounts.


It can be highly effective for engaging with potential clients, but there are risks involved. Misuse of social media is a key concern for brands today, so it’s vital to have a clear social media policy in place for all official accounts.


Corporate Communication

Corporate communication is a type of external communication that involves communicating with stakeholders such as investors, regulatory bodies, or other brands. Corporate communication can take many forms, such as annual reports, press releases, and financial statements.


Which Channels to Use for External Communication

There are a plethora of available channels, and choosing the right one depends on several factors. Namely:


  • Who is the target audience?
  • What type of correspondence is being shared?
  • Is the information public or private?
  • Where is the audience located?


There are essentially four types of platforms:

  1. Digital Platforms

    This includes social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, X, etc,), as well as email, blogs, and websites. It also includes video-sharing platforms such as YouTube. Digital is typically the primary channel for sharing external communication for obvious reasons – most people consume information digitally.


    But, choosing the right one can be complex. Some messaging is best suited to LinkedIn, while others are better shared on X or Facebook. Or, you may prefer to keep the information semi-private and only communicate with email subscribers. Sometimes, if you want to broadcast as widely as possible, then sharing across all platforms is the ideal approach.


    There’s no exact rule for determining where to share and the appropriate digital channel should be selected on a case-by-case basis.

  2. Print Media

    Print media includes newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, and other printed materials. The audience for print media has shrunk significantly in recent times, but it’s still a potentially effective channel for external communications.


    One advantage of print is the ability to hand something directly to the reader. I.e. distributing flyers at a networking event. It’s also useful for marketing to specific demographics who prefer print to digital.

  3. Broadcast Media

    Broadcast media includes television and radio. It’s a traditional form of external communication, typically used for advertising. It’s an effective method of reaching a wide audience and also helps to establish brand credibility.

  4. In-Person

    In-person is the most direct and engaging form of external communication. In-person includes networking events, conferences, and even doorstepping.


    The benefits of this approach are clear – direct face-to-face communication allows for immediate response and is the most effective way of getting a message across. However, it’s also resource-intensive and the reach is much more limited compared to other methods.


How to Build an External Communication Strategy

To ensure alignment between marketing, product teams, and sales it’s crucial to adopt some foundational communication policies. It’s also important to ensure that messaging abides by company values and brand tone.


To achieve this, organizations should implement an external communication strategy that governs how, when, and where to communicate with external stakeholders.


Here are some tips for crafting the strategy:


Ensure messaging consistency

Consistency in messaging is critical for building trust and credibility, If marketing and sales teams are promising two different things, or using varying ways to promote the product, then sales will decline.


All messaging should be clear, concise, and consistent across all communication channels.


Understand the target audience

Brands should have an intimate knowledge of their consumer base. What are their wants, needs, and expectations? This data is then used to tailor the messaging accordingly and ensure that they’re spoken to on the right platform.


Data and reporting

To ensure optimal ROI from external communication, brands should capture and analyze all relevant data. This is used to identify trends, patterns, and areas that need improvement.

Surveys and feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of external communication. Organizations can use surveys to gather feedback from customers, stakeholders, and employees.



What are the Challenges in External Communication?

In addition to the above, i.e. choosing the right platform and type of communication, there are also several other challenges that brands typically face. These include:


Cultural Barriers

Cultural differences can pose a significant challenge in external communication. Different cultures have different communication styles, and what may be acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in another.


This extends to rules of politeness and courtesy and linguistic nuance. A cultural faux pas can be devastating to a brand’s reputation, so it’s vital to invest in cross-cultural training for employees.


Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance is another significant challenge in external communication. There are all sorts of regulations that govern how brands can communicate, and these differ significantly depending on place and platform.


These include platform policies, data privacy laws, and advertising standards. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in costly legal and financial consequences.


Clear policies and procedures ensure compliance with regulations when communicating externally.



Competition for attention is a challenge across all communication channels. Ensuring that your brand’s message is noticed amidst all the distractions in print, social, and broadcast media presents a significant challenge for marketers.


To overcome this, brands should invest in making sure their communication stands out amidst a sea of content. This isn’t easy and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that guarantees you’ll capture the audience’s attention. Each piece of communication should be crafted to ensure maximum visibility, using visuals and other means.



Future Trends in External Communication

Staying ahead of new technologies and trends gives brands a significant competitive advantage. Knowing where your audience is today is important, but knowing where they will be is invaluable. Here are some future trends in external communication to keep an eye on:



New technologies and data sourcing mean that messaging can be personalized. Although sometimes perceived as an invasion of privacy, tailoring the messaging to the target can be very effective. For example, a personalized happy birthday message, or marketing a product that fulfills a specific need.


Interactive Content

Polls, quizzes, games, surveys – all forms of interactive communication that help establish a rapport with the audience. It’s also useful for gleaning insights into consumer behaviors.



Sentient chatbots can measure audience receptivity and adjust the messaging accordingly. It’s also fast becoming a common way for consumers to correspond with a brand. 


Emerging technologies

The rise of new technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) could revolutionize brand storytelling and product promotion. These technologies could be used to create wholly immersive experiences for customers and create entirely new communication channels within virtual worlds.

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