Typically, when we think about corporate communication, external engagement is primarily what comes to mind. Because the needs and desires of our customers are top priority, naturally, we care a great deal about how our organizations might be perceived from the outside. However, communication strategies are not confined to marketing your company’s products and services.
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None of us are strangers to the importance of corporate branding, but what if I told you that the embodiment of your company’s brand extends beyond external perception? Moreover, what if I told you that your company’s brand actually begins to take shape from the inside?
When you really think about it, your employees are one of your most valuable audiences. In fact, they are the most tangible representation of the organization’s culture and brand. For this reason, corporate communication is just as important internally as it is externally, and the alignment of both types of communication are critical to the success of the organization. Let’s explore a few key reasons why.
Transparency Builds Trust
For starters, both internal and external communication strategies have the potential to either work for or against the organization. To avoid the latter, and successfully earn the trust of your audiences, transparency is key. This is an example of what is generally referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR), the principles and processes that a company has in place to minimize its negative impacts and maximize its positive impacts on stakeholder issues.[i]
The idea of developing a closer alliance between internal and external communications strategies is largely influenced by a desire for more transparency and authenticity with regard to how organizations interact with their audiences. In the Digital Age, where there are little to no boundaries to what is shared on social media, the line between internal and external communication has become somewhat blurred. Years ago, negative comments or feedback about an organization may have been a bit easier to sweep under the rug, but today, it is virtually impossible.
So, what does this mean for your organization? It means you now have an amazing opportunity to use this to your advantage, both internally and externally. This means being open to sharing your company’s successes as well as failures. It means being willing to divulge missteps and lessons learned, and engaging in continuous dialogue with both your employees and external stakeholders. Communication that is candid and forthright both internally and externally will help build the trust of your audiences and ensure that your company’s core values are reflected from the inside out.
Communication is the Pulse of Your Organization
Without question, communication is a vital organ and can be positioned to be quite effective within any organization. Of course some would argue that there are various factors contributing to each company’s overall success, and while this may be true, no other factor possesses the power and persuasiveness of communication. Communication is a determining factor in your company’s growth and advancement, and it ultimately decides whether the organization thrives or declines.
When you think about internal and external communication from this perspective, you begin to firmly grasp the significance of each with regard to your company’s vitality. Companies should not just communicate when forced to respond to a problem. They should be communicating in a regular, consistent rhythm because the exchange of information is an instrumental component of every aspect of the organization’s existence.
Your Company Culture is Important to All
Organizational culture is described as “a company’s ability to define and align the organization around shared core beliefs and desired behaviors.”[ii] Most often, organizational culture is typically associated with an internal point of view; for instance, employee experiences working inside the company. However, the state of your company’s culture is not just of interest to your employees, but relevant to your external audiences as well.
Internal and external audiences care a great deal about this subject, and rightfully so. The culture of an organization is very indicative of the company’s overall performance, and because of the inherent emotional influence, organizational culture impacts the lives of many. This is why it is necessary to align both platforms and ensure that the external representation of the brand is a direct reflection of the culture within.
Practice What You Preach
This is likely one of the most compelling reasons for ensuring your internal and external communication strategies are closely aligned. More than anything, your stakeholders, whether internal or external, value the idea of an organization that not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. The synergy between corporate values, employees’ effective enactment of these values, and customers’ appreciation of the values is critical to the success of the corporate brand.[iii] What this means is that the ultimate success of your organization will depend upon its ability to demonstrate and behave according to the company’s set core values, not just in view of the public, but also behind closed doors.
As the barriers between internal and external communication become less and less defined, open lines of communication between organizations and their internal and external stakeholders will grow increasingly instrumental in each company’s individual success. Companies that are transparent and candid with their audiences will be able to effectively build trust amongst their stakeholders and continually exhibit characteristics of organizational cultures that are healthy and thriving from the inside out.
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What additional tips for aligning internal and external communications would you add? Please leave your comments below and feel free to share this with others who may have an interest.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
[i]Maignan, I., and D.A. Ralston. “Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe and the US: Insights from business’ self–presentations.” Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 497–514.
[ii] Zurek, Christina. “Building a Strong Culture To Thrive During Organizational Change ”AMA Quarterly, 2017, pp. 28–30.
[iii]Chong, Mark. “The Role of Internal Communication and Training in Infusing Corporate Values and Delivering Brand Promise: Singapore Airlines’ Experience.” Corporate Reputation Review, vol. 10, no. 3, 2007, pp. 201–212.