If your internal communications and external communications aren’t aligned, it sends inconsistent messaging to your employees and customers. This can confuse both of them and undermine trust in your brand.
To overcome this, we asked our own internal and external communications experts at Livestorm for their advice on aligning internal and external communications strategies. Based on those conversations, we’ve put this handy guide covering internal vs external communication, including:
Let’s dive in.
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Let’s take a look at the key similarities and differences between internal and external communication.
Internal communication is often less formal, more frequent, and more extensive than external communication. It can be one-to-one or one-to-many, and flow in several directions: top-down, bottom-up, or horizontally.
Every department is involved in internal communication, but developing a strategy is the responsibility of people or HR teams. The aim is to eliminate departmental silos and get information flowing between teams so they can work together effectively.
External communication usually falls to marketing, sales, customer success, or investor relations teams. It tends to involve everything to do with the brand, product, pricing, results, etc. The goal is often customer acquisition and retention.
External marketing communications are usually one way and one-to-many. However, sales conversations, and conversations with suppliers, partners, and investors, can also be two-way.
External and external business communications have several things in common:
Let’s take a look at how.
Aligning external and internal communications strategies benefits your business by ensuring messaging is coherent, building trust, improving reach, building a company culture, improving strategic alignment and organization, and providing ideas. Here’s how:
Getting customer-facing teams like marketing, sales, and customer success to use the same language avoids confusing customers. For example, we position Livestorm as a video engagement platform, so we don’t want our sales team calling it a webinar platform. For this reason, it’s important everyone uses the same terms in internal communications.
Also, even non-customer-facing employees transmit an image to the outside world, like when they talk to friends and family. So it’s important that your messaging, positioning, and how you present your brand are aligned. Best of all, it can boost revenue by up to 20%.
Unified messaging helps you come across as genuine and creates trust among customers. According to a post-pandemic study by Stackla, 88% of customers say authenticity is a major influence on brand choice.
It also builds trust among teams, who should never find out about important announcements from the press. Also, if they feel what you tell customers doesn’t reflect reality, they may become disengaged and unmotivated.
Aligning internal and external communication empowers all your employees to become brand ambassadors and extends the reach of your marketing efforts. If they’re communicating about the company to their LinkedIn network, chances are you’ll reach more people and gain new followers. Plus, there’s already trust there.
Often, it’s not what employees say, but how they say it that sticks in customers’ minds. So your internal corporate communications should be consistent with the values you’re conveying in external corporate communication. The employee experience and company experience are connected, and happy employees make the best advocates.
When employees understand the messaging and values external departments are trying to communicate, it helps align them with the overall business strategy. And understand their role in upholding brand promises. This makes it easier to get everyone on the same page and working together for company success.
If you’re launching a new product or feature, communicating it to employees first will reveal which concepts customers are likely to struggle with. So you can incorporate those insights into client onboarding or customer education materials.
Cross-company collaboration also helps marketing discover new content ideas, like customer success stories or case studies. Sharing these internally as well as externally is also a great way to highlight the contributions of individual employees.
Aligning internal and external communications requires inter-departmental collaboration. This provides more diverse opinions and eliminates departmental silos, which boosts efficiency and productivity, and puts your company in a better position to navigate change. It also saves time when you have a content repository or knowledge base that all teams can access.
Livestorm helps teams collaborate and deliver memorable live or on-demand video experiences.
You can align your internal and external communication by getting leadership buy-in, identifying key stakeholders, creating brand guidelines, testing communication internally, keeping marketing involved, and using the right tools. Here’s how:
Aligning strategies and materials takes time and resources, so get C-level sign off before you start looping in multiple departments. Put together an action plan that focuses on the steps to achieve your goal, and the benefits to the company, especially in terms of revenue and increased efficiency.
Knowing who you need to collaborate with will speed up the process of alining messaging and developing materials.
For example, if you’re working on recruitment materials, you want marketing, HR or the people team in the room. If it’s product benefits or a new features launch, get input from product, marketing, customer success, and sales.
Establish a two-way flow of information between relevant departments so you can create engaging, shareable, on-brand content that can be endlessly reused and repurposed.
Prepare materials with approved ways to talk about the company and share them internally.
For example, an intranet page with social media assets and ways to describe the company in one sentence, paragraph, or page. This ensures everyone uses the right language and transmits the right image. It also means marketing doesn’t have to be across every communication and channel, and can repurpose material for marketing campaigns.
Share guidelines and materials with other departments, C-suite, and new employees during onboarding (so they can update their LinkedIn) and remind everyone regularly to use them.
If you need to communicate something, first agree on the main messages and how to present them with key stakeholders. Then, test it out on internal teams to gather feedback, see which questions arise, whether there’s any confusion, and if your messages stick. Incorporate these insights before you take it outside the company.
Marketing should be involved in the development of internal communications as much as external. It’s their job to communicate with the public, so they need to be aligned. Plus, if messages from C-level or other departments are incoherent, that will result in marketing messages that confuse customers.
Incredible as it sounds, marketing is often the department that spends the least time talking to customers. Overcome this by having them listen to virtual sales calls and talk to customer success, sales, and product teams. This helps overcome the disconnect between what marketing is putting out and what customers want to know.
Use the same colors, fonts, images, and tone in your internal and external communication materials for consistency. If you redesign your brand, don’t forget to also give your intranet and internal materials an overhaul.
Connect employees to your brand by giving them the tools, training, and information they need to communicate your values and USPs. For example, training days, seminars, product prototypes, simulations, case studies, etc.
Choose the most appropriate internal and external communication channels and tools for your audience and brand to maintain consistency and promote your values.
For example, since Livestorm’s virtual meeting software facilitates remote team collaboration, we use a centralized knowledge base and tools that allow us to communicate asynchronously. It also allows us to run engaging internal meetings and external events like content marketing webinars.
Aligning internal and external communication has huge benefits for your teams and your bottom line. When you communicate consistent messaging and values, it builds trust in your brand and boosts engagement among employees and customers.
Get off to a good start by implementing these best practices, and invest in a video engagement platform like Livestorm that comes packed with features like reaction emojis, polls and surveys, live chat, and Q&A to boost engagement and participation.
Internal communication takes place within a business between teams, departments, management, and employees. This typically includes most communication by the human resources team, for example.
Some good examples of internal communication are team and company meetings, educational seminars, webinars, presentations, newsletters, emails, phone, and instant messaging like Slack, etc.
External communications take place between your brand and customers, partners, investors, or suppliers.
Some good examples of external communications include social media messaging, company announcements communicated by newsletter or company blog, and your company website. Also, sales calls and demos with customers.