In or out? Telling the difference between internal and external communications

How should you alter the way you communicate to a group of employees rather than a group of shareholders? Wardour has worked with clients on hugely successful campaigns, taking different approaches depending on whether the audience was internal or external. Here’s our take on what to consider before producing content.

Check your tone

Deciding the tone of your content is important regardless of audience. There are pros and cons for both formal and informal communication styles. However, whatever your outward-facing tone is, when talking to staff you’ll probably want to be a little warmer. Using language and content that unites your colleagues and inspires them around your mission is just as important as sharing important information with them.

Your external content must share knowledge, showing readers why they should work differently tomorrow. Internal content needs to do this as well, but must also inspire your people, showing them the importance of what they are doing today.

Skip the small talk

When writing for external audiences, it’s often necessary to approach content with the expectation that it might be seen by someone with no knowledge of the subject whatsoever. While you shouldn’t patronise any audience, some level of basic explanation is necessary for most external pieces.

When writing for your own colleagues, however, you can assume a certain level of understanding. There may be areas that are covered thoroughly in induction, or language used so commonly internally it requires no introduction. Show confidence in their knowledge and skip the small talk.

Be authentic

Beautiful imagery or high-quality video forms part of both internal and external strategies. User-submitted content and photography, however, is more of an internal affair. Using pieces that your colleagues have created makes them part of your story and they are more likely to share it. Work with them to make it the best it can be, but don’t be too heavy-handed – authenticity is key.

Involve everyone

When creating external pieces of content, interviewees with lofty job titles or high profiles can set you apart from your competitors and lend weight to your communications. But internally, you probably want to mix things up more.

There is an old anecdote concerning John F Kennedy’s visit to NASA’s HQ in 1961. While touring the facility he approached a janitor, introduced himself and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor replied that he was helping to send a man to the moon.

While the tale may be apocryphal, the sentiment remains true: all employees can contribute to your success and should therefore be represented in your communications across your organisation.

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