Internal and External Communications: How to Ensure Alignment

06/13/2024
Temps de lecture : 6 mn
Emmanuelle Abensur
Emmanuelle Abensur
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Temps de lecture : 6 minutes

They’re often managed separately, but they share many common purposes. We’re referring, of course, to internal and external communications! Aligning these two types of communication is essential to building a strong brand image and ensuring consistency across all your messages, ad campaigns, and other communications. 

It’s all too common for communications teams to work in silos, even if it can create completely conflicting internal and external messages. Working in isolation creates confusion for employees, prospects, customers, and partners alike. 

To avoid this situation, there’s a simple solution: align your internal and external communications! In this article, we explain why this step is so crucial and how you can create alignment within all your communications.

Internal vs. external communication: what’s the difference?

There are three key differences between internal and external communications.

Audience

First of all, the target audience is not the same. Internal communication is aimed at the organization’s internal stakeholders (employees, managers, management, etc.), while external communication is aimed at external stakeholders (prospects, customers, partners, candidates, etc.). 

Objectives

Both also have different challenges. On the one hand, internal communication aims to inform, engage, and retain company employees. On the other hand, external communications seek to develop the company’s reputation, attract prospects and candidates, and create a solid brand identity.

Tools

Finally, the communication media used vary according to audience and target. In external communications, we tend to rely on enterprise social networks, intranets, collaborative platforms and/or newsletters. For internal communications, the tools are more varied. These may include a website, publications on social networks, advertising and press relations campaigns, or recruitment platforms. 

Recap table that shows the differences between internal and external communications

Why align internal and external communications?

Internal and external communications may be different in some respects, but they must remain aligned since they depend on each other to achieve their objectives. Here are 4 arguments to convince your multiple departments to work together.

Get teams going in the same direction

Aligning internal and external communications helps keep your teams all moving in the same direction. If all your messages are clear and consistent, it’s easier for your employees to understand your vision and strategic positioning. They know they’re not working just to work, but to achieve a common goal that serves as a compass for all teams.

Reinforce a sense of belonging

Actions are often more valuable than words. By aligning internal and external communication, you show your employees that what you share externally really reflects internal values and culture, and not a watered-down version of reality. This authenticity can then contribute to a stronger sense of belonging to the company.

Develop your employer brand

Aligned communication also helps create a positive employer brand, which in turn helps attract and retain talent. Symbols, fonts, and other details all send a message to candidates who are new to the company. To avoid ambiguity and disappointment, you need to ensure that communication aimed at candidates is consistent with communication for employees, and vice versa.

Improve team efficiency

Last but not least, aligned communication reduces misunderstandings and optimizes collaboration between departments. Rather than spending time thinking about key messages and formulas, teams can focus on the work they need to do and the decisions they need to make. That’s surefire efficiency!

7 tips to harmonize your internal and external communications

So how do you align internal and external communications? We’re sharing 7 tips you might find useful.

Work on your brand identity

The first thing you need to do is agree on everything related to your brand identity, including: 

  • your story
  • your values
  • your vision and mission
  • your unique value proposition (UVP)
  • your key messages and positioning
  • your graphic charter and all the elements that go with it like your logo, colors, and fonts)

This background work is essential to ensure the homogeneity of your communications media and to make sure that everyone knows which messages to put forward. Complete these tasks as you partner with the company’s other departments—especially marketing and media relations.

Streamline your work processes, tools, and methods

It’s hard to work together when everyone has different methods and tools. If you want to align internal and external communications, creating a common reference framework for the entire communications department is essential. This repository will harmonize your work processes, communication tools and policies, as well as your team rituals.

Take the opportunity to clarify the team’s organization, as well as the roles and responsibilities of each member of staff. This framework will give your employees a clear idea of what they need to do, and who they should contact for help or information.

To document all this, you can rely on the Holaspirit tool. It lets you create a dynamic organizational chart, document your roles and work processes, and create team meeting templates.

Mapping roles on Holaspirit’s dynamic organizational chart

Develop a communication strategy 

Rather than creating 2 separate strategies for internal and external communications, develop a more comprehensive one. Here’s what to include: 

  • your internal and external communication objectives (if possible, associate them with quantified results to be achieved, so that they can be measured objectively)
  • the messages you want to convey
  • your target (as in the people receiving your messages)
  • the communication channels you’re going to use
  • the means of communication (text, video, carousel ads, podcasts, and so on)

Create an editorial calendar

Think about how you’re going to communicate your strategy internally and externally. Then create an editorial calendar to organize your various communications. This calendar will clarify who needs to communicate what—and when, and where, and through which channel.

To keep track of the progress of your communications, for example, you can use Talkspirit’s Projects module. Like Trello, this tool allows you to create team boards, assign actions to individual members, set deadlines, and specify the status of each task. No more need to ask whether a communication has been launched. Just keep up on Talkspirit!

Creating an editorial calendar for internal and external communications on Talkspirit's Projects app
Creating an editorial calendar on Talkspirit’s Projects app

Encourage collaboration

It’s hard to align internal and external communications if your communications teams are all working separately… If you want to create real alignment, you need to encourage working in tandem—not working in silos. 

To do this, we recommend that you: 

  • create a joint working group to facilitate project exchanges
  • hold routine meetings involving both your internal and external communications teams
  • brainstorm together on communication strategy and campaigns
  • showcase the initiatives you have taken together to other teams
  • host team-building activities to strengthen the bonds between your employees

Involve other teams

Communication isn’t just the job of one department. Employees, too, can become communicators! A good way to get them more involved is to set up an ambassador program to identify and train people interested in this role.

Internally, ambassadors can help you drive new projects, gather feedback from the field, and develop employee commitment. Externally, they bring visibility and credibility to your brand (thanks to social networks, in particular), and help boost your sales. So don’t forget to include them in your communications strategy!

Continuously improve your practices

Aligning internal and external communications isn’t something you can do in a snap. So, if your first attempt doesn’t live up to your expectations, don’t worry. The important thing is to be able to question yourself, so as to continuously improve your practices.

Hold regular check-ups to find out where you stand. Identify potential bottlenecks. Define what you need to do to achieve your objectives. This is how you remain able to make rapid changes where necessary.

Also read: Change management: our 3-step method

A final word

Getting your communications teams to work in unison will not only improve employee commitment and efficiency, but also attract new customers, partners, and candidates. To achieve this, you’ll need to create a strong brand identity, harmonize the way you work, develop a global communications strategy, and bring all your teams on board.

At Talkspirit, we know a thing or two about communication! Would you like personalized advice on aligning your internal and external communications? Schedule a meeting today with one of our experts. 👇

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