How to Level Up Your External Communications Strategy This Year

Todd Kunsman

Head of Marketing

15 minute read

External Communications Strategy

In order for your company to be recognized and understood in the world, you’ll have to build a strong external communications strategy. 

This is the only way people will know about your product or services and this process is the best way to rely information to general audiences. 

Below, you’ll learn more about the types of external communications and the best strategy tips to take your organization to that next level.

Feel free to jump to the desired section you are interested in. 

 

The Main Types of External Communications

An effective external communications strategy involves using a vast range of tactics in order to convey information to the general public.

And that includes your customers, potential prospects, investors, shareholders, and how the world views and identifies with your company.

It sounds a bit like marketing, right? 

And there are some crossovers between your marketing campaigns and external communications.

The difference really is that you are not just focused on targeting customers and potential customers, it’s literally everyone. 

While large corporations may have a stronger need for external communications, all companies of all sizes will benefit greatly from a strategy. And you don’t always need a massive budget to be effective. 

That said, external communication involves various types of content, beginning with internally created content which is intended for those outside the company.

Here are some of the main types of external comms your organization should be focused on: 

  • Website and Content
  • Events and Conferences
  • Social Media 
  • Community service
  • Email newsletters
  • Public relations
  • Reputation management
  • Employee advocacy
  • Customer communications
  • Speaking engagements

This is only a snippet of all the various types, but I think you know and get the idea. Your company might not focus on every type, but being involved in many areas will benefit your communications.

 

The Difference Between Internal and External Communication

Before we jump down into the strategy tips, I thought it might be good to include the differences between internal and external communication.

There is no question that both are very important to creating a thriving business.

And as the digital shift began a few years ago, sometimes it’s hard to know how these two areas differ. But don’t worry if there is some overlap, there most certainly will be. 

So here’s how these two communication plays are different. 

Internal communications refer to strategies your organization entails to ensure that information is connected with employees.

This is key to improving knowledge sharing, productivity, employee engagement, and ensuring everyone in your company is on the same page. 

74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)

Some ways to solve internal communication challenges include:

  • Improving work culture to strive for more team collaboration, feedback, and transparency. 
  • Internal company newsletters and company-wide gatherings to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Workshops and training sessions for employees to learn and engage with colleagues.
  • Employee advocacy platform that organizes information and content, which helps your organization build a connected workplace community via desktop and mobile

And then you have external communications, which is part and parcel of your employer brand. As you read in the previous sections, this is all about connecting with people outside of your organization. 

External communications is about helping your company better communicate your brand purpose, products and services, and personality to the public.

There are so many ways to do this and below will get into some strategy tips to know your communications out of the park. 

 

Employee advocacy bridging the gap

Both internal and external communications are imperative to the long-term success of your company.

They each impact and affect your company — and when one area suffers, it can start to affect the other. 

One way to bring internal and external communications together is through employee advocacy

You may have heard of it and maybe it’s new to you. 

But, this type of platform acts as the central location for all employees to be connected to one another and have access to information. 

Companies can organize content and news, employees can contribute (comment, tag, like, share. follower groups and other employees). 

This helps internal comms because everyone is then connected to information via the platform application or mobile app to push notifications and newsletters. You start to build a connected workplace community of knowledge sharing. 

But it also helps external communications because employees can share content or create content to share to the public. Helping get brand messages, work culture, and more information out that pertains to shaping your brand online. 

 

Related: Learn why Cyxtera Technologies chose to use employee advocacy to harness internal communications and to make it easier for employees to help boost external communications.

 

External Communications Strategy Tips

So, if you’ve made it this far you’ll now be rewarded with what you probably came for: external communications strategy tips!

I hope the above content was interesting and helpful as you continue to explore the external facing kind of communications. 

That said, a great way to win externally is to actually build a strategy to ensure your communicating your brand properly. 

 

Know your audience

For any business to succeed, you need to know your audience. Your fancy tech, ideas, or tactics won’t work if you aren’t aligned with what your audience responds to. 

And because you have various groups of external audiences, you need to think how your external communications can be tailored to speak their language. 

For example, the communications for customers will be different from investors or partners. You need your external comms to be relatable to given groups of people. 

Analyze these folks and find what interests them most, how they consume information, and what they are saying or want from you. 

This is where social media becomes key, looking towards review sites or customer surveys, comments from marketing content and ads, questions and feedback during public appearances or networking. 

 

Establish the tone of voice

It might seem obvious now, but an external communications strategy is an important part of your overall branding. It helps shape the public narrative and how audiences connect with your organization.

So with external communications, this is the time to establish the tone of voice. 

How do you want people to remember, engage, and talk about your brand? This entails giving your communications a tone and personality that people can associate with your company. 

Ignore the standard formats and avoid mimicking industry trends. 

Yes, the platforms you communicate on might be the same, but take the time to make your style and voice unique.

Delivering quality communications, but sounding genuine will give your brand the competitive edge. 

As you are aware, general communications can be boring, you want to find ways that get audiences excited when new material comes from your company.

 

Choose the right platforms to distribute

When you master the brand identity and know your audience, you’ll be able to figure out two important things.

Where the audiences spend the most time and where you’ll be best able to communicate with them. 

For example, social media will be a great way to connect with customers, prospects, and people looking to learn about your industry.

Whereas your partners or investors may require video conferences, direct reports, or different communications platforms. 

This means, you’ll want to use multiple mediums for your external communications depending on what you learn about your audience.

Each will improve how your communications resonates and ROI on your efforts to inform people. 

And some platforms you’ll want to consider are social media, speaking gigs, podcasts, videos, networking events, press releases, presentations, and more. 

Different groups and people all consume information differently, which means being everywhere you can, but with a defined strategy for each.

And with that, you’ll want to find the set of tools that helps your communications strategy succeed. 

 

Deliver value with every touch (Stop the fluff)

Pretty common sense, right? But everything your company does must be of the highest value, not just fluffy filler content. 

Many times organizations see external communications as a way to blast their name everywhere and anywhere with no real thought. 

Sure, you are getting the company name and product or services out in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s creating a positive experience for audiences. 

Stronger results will grow from a well-thought plan that delivers value with each communications touch. 

As I mentioned earlier, you have to know your audience and what will connect with them. 

Sounding like a sales pitch every chance you get and spewing how fantastic your product or services does not do much. Separate your audiences, find what matters to them, and deliver the best value your organization possibly can. 

Throwing darts in the dark will eventually land on the board, but that doesn’t mean you should play without clearly seeing your target. 

 

Involve customers and employees

While customers and employees are good for your sales and marketing, they also provide a major benefit to your external communications. 

Why? Both groups of people are the closest to your brand and products or services. 

 

Customers

As your company’s customers build a working relationship with you and become more familiar with the brand, they become top referral sources.

Of course, you have to be delivering value and top notch products, but they become external communicators for your company. 

This means you need to drive the communication narrative to customers too, so when they talk to colleagues, share about your brand online, or talk to others at networking events — they are delivering a consistent message.

 

Employees 

Although this would require more internal communications as far as efforts go from your company, employees are still great external communicators.

The information and knowledge they have about their work and company can reach many audiences online. 

98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Weber Shandwick)

By providing consistent valuable information, establishing a brand identity and voice, and empowering them as brand ambassadors — your organization can have a team of communicators sharing this information to their networks (ie. employee advocacy platform).

 

Final Thoughts

External communications does not fall in the hand of just marketing or communications, it comes from all departments and employees. 

Surely, department leads and company executives may be the leaders in the strategy, but the entire organization plays a role in successful communications. 

But hopefully you have a better understanding of the value and impact on your brand, plus the need to tighten up your strategy for success. 

If you want to fuel company information, build trusted relationships, improve engagement, and business growth — buttoning up external communications will be pivotal. 



More posts related to Communications

Engaging the Deskless Workforce [Don’t Forget Frontline Teams]

When it comes to employee engagement and software, often times the focus is on the corporate locations. You know, the…

Todd Kunsman - Head of Marketing
Deskless Workforce

Improve Your Marketing Communications Strategy Starting Today

Your company’s marketing communications strategy is built around informing your target audience, while building trust and reinforcing brand credibility. And…

Todd Kunsman - Head of Marketing
Marketing Communications Strategy

Improve Your Company’s Crisis Communication Plan With These Tips

Let’s talk about a crisis communication plan.  Most organizations have some business plan for an emergency or unexpected event. This…

Todd Kunsman - Head of Marketing
Crisis Communication Plan
Subscribe to our
newsletter

Join our group of 27,000+ digital marketing, sales, hr, & comms professionals.