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Internal vs External Communication

Communication, being an integral part of every business organization, enables the exchange of information between two or more individuals, departments and organizations. Internal communication refers to the communication that occurs between members or departments within the same organization. On the other hand, external communication takes place when members or departments of an organization communicate with an outside party. Successful organizations concentrate on the effectiveness of both internal and external communication in order to maintain healthy relations with various internal and external stakeholders.This article will define the terms internal vs external communication in more detail and explain the differences between the two.

Definitions and meanings


Internal communication

Internal communication is the interchange of information, messages, and facts about the business between members of the company or between organisational units.

It is important to plan internal communications as it has an impact on the knowledge, behavior and attitudes of the members of the organization. Internal communication helps in establishing a relationship between the company and its employees at different levels. It encourages efficiency, innovation, dedication and faith in the company and makes employees understand the part they play in the success of the organization. This ensures that employees accomplish their jobs in the most efficient manner.

Internal communication usually takes place through different media, for example emails, memorandums, letters, video conferencing. internal web portals, circulars and conference calls. The main objective of internal communication is to ensure the normal operations of an organization, including its day to day operations as well as its long-term functions.

Internal communication mainly involves information transferred between managers and employees. It  usually carries out to inform employees about the organizational objectives, formulate plans to achieve these objectives and organize resources in the most optimal manner. It plays a part in the training, selection and appraisal of employees.

Internal communication can be formal or informal in nature. Formal communication refers to the communication that occurs through the official channels within the organization. On the other hand, informal communication does not pass through the specific organizational channels. Rather, it takes place through unofficial channels and is more personal in nature.


External communication

External communication refers to exchange of information between the organization and an entity or individual from outside the organization. For example the customers, clients, investors, suppliers, government bodies, society, and the general public. It is mostly formal and documented. In addition, it determines the way organizations relate to or disseminate information among the parties that are external to the organization.

External communication may consist of information regarding new products or initiatives undertaken by the company. External messages  normally circulates to acquire customers, establish the brand or have an impact on the way the public perceives the company. The aim of external communication is to establish a relationship with external parties so as to create a favorable reputation and public image. It’s also used to connect with suppliers, vendors, investors, and other parties that could be interested in the products/services. External communication with stakeholders is equally critical, as their perceptions of the organisation are largely shaped by it.

Organizations use different mediums to carry out external communication. They may use emails, print media, and television and radio advertisements to make the public aware of a new product or service. And press releases to announce changes in management or other professional events.  Companies also provide information to the external public through their websites and social media handling.

Difference between internal communication and external communication


1.      Meaning

Internal communication is that form of communication that takes place among those who are part of an organization, such as between employees, managers and shareholders. However, external communication is carried out between the organizational members. And those that belong to the organization’s external environment, such as its customers, suppliers, investors, community, etc.

2.      Nature

Internal communication may be carried out in a formal or informal manner. On the other hand, external communication mostly occurs in a formal manner.

3.      Objective

The objective of internal communication is to transfer information between different organizational levels so as to ensure the effective functioning of the organization. In contrast, the objective of external communication is to maintain connections with the external parties. And ensure that a positive image of the company develops and maintains in the external environment.

4.      Medium used

Emails, memos, letters, video conferencing, internal websites, circulars, and conference calls are common methods of internal communication. External communication, on the other hand, is done through commercials, press releases, service calls, corporate websites, social media posts, and so on.

5.      Flow of information

In internal communication, information flows within the organization, whereas in external communication, information flows in the external business environment.

The Connection Between Internal and External Communications

While the two forms of communication are different, they learn and borrow from each other. For them to be effective, they both make use of impactful storytelling, strategy development, and dependable metrics.

For a company’s success, internal and external communicators have to work together; organizations should analyze their internal and external communication policies to make them as complimentary as possible. Developing messaging that motivates employees to meet their set targets while uniformly enticing partners and customers ensure effective communication.

If that messaging was developed separately for both internal and external communication, then conflicts will arise. Internal and external communicators should both collaborate to paint a uniform overall picture for the organization.

It is important to consider the following;
  • Organizations are no longer in sole control of the message -Social media has made it possible for anyone to share their views. This has made everyone a possible communicator; customers as well as employees.
  • Internal and external communicators align – While the diverse channels of delivery make it harder to make both of these types of communications consistent, it is still possible, and it is critical that your communications present a cohesive front. The distinction between internal and external communication is becoming increasingly hazy.there will be a need from time to time to tailor the emphasis, tone, or vocabulary of a particular message depending on the intended audience.
  • Compelling storytelling is vital -The available alternatives to information sources have led to an emphasis on storytelling. Today, fiction is more effective at persuasion than facts and evidence. Both inside and outside communication must tap into the power of storytelling to yield results.
  • Collaboration- There has to be a continuous dialog between all communication functions to ensure you get the right message out and at the right time.

Corporate communication is always changing. The blurred lines present challenges as well as opportunities that tackles successfully, needs the alignment and collaboration of internal and external communicators to ensure all intended audiences engage with uninformed and compelling messages.

Conclusion – internal communication vs external communication

Internal and external communications are both very important for organizations to ensure their effective and smooth operations. Internal communication is used to keep personnel in a company informed, directed, and motivated to perform well. When employees are unaware of organizational objectives and aims, they will not be able to work effectively.

External communication is important for developing a favorable image of the company in the market. In addition, external communication informs the customer about new products. If organizations do not communicate externally in an effective way, people will remain unaware of their products and services.

Hence, organizations should adopt the correct communication tools to make sure that there continues to be a flow of information internally as well as externally.


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