Corporate communication has been defined by Prof. Dr. C.B.M. van Riel as “the management tool which tunes all intentional forms of internal and external communications in a way the organization creates and keeps an image towards its major target groups.” This definition seems to indicate that corporate communication is slanted toward marketing and public relations. While that is true to a large extent, business communications cover a wide range of information exchanges. Tom McKay of Better Business Communications writes:
“If you work — in an office, on a sales floor, or a construction site, wherever — you have to communicate with other people. Customers, co-workers, everybody. You not only need to understand what they’re saying, you have to tell them what you want or need. In person, or in writing. Or (probably) both.
“If you work in an office, you have to read and write emails, memos, letters and other routine business correspondence. Perhaps you’re also responsible for drafting proposals and reports. Or communicating with customers, clients and coworkers.
“Like many of my clients, maybe you own a small business. Or you work in a marketing or corporate communications department. If so, you need to write specialized messages. For example, persuasive advertising copy, informative brochures, accurate product specifications, sales letters, customer newsletters, news releases, PowerPoint presentations and a variety of other sales material (sometimes called collateral).
“CEOs, top managers, consultants, professionals and other so-called “knowledge workers” must frequently demonstrate ‘the vision thing’ by penning speeches, white papers, reports and trade journal articles.”
Add to this list the current buzzword: blogging. Once a purely personal means of expression, much like a personal online journal, the blog has become the latest business communications tool.
Bob Lutz, vice chairman for global product development at General Motors wrote in a recent article on InformationWeek:
“To blog or not to blog? For a lot of senior executives these days, that is the question. The answer, simply enough, is to blog. No better opportunity exists to engage in an open dialogue and exchange of ideas with customers and potential customers.
“Since January, I’ve been participating, along with other members of General Motors’ senior management, in the GM Fastlane blog. We’ve found the blog to be a hugely effective communications tool and a terrific way to conduct a grassroots, largely unfiltered conversation with GM fans and nonfans alike.”
The blog can also be an effective internal communications tool for a company, as shown in the article Blogging Bosses at USNews.com:
“Whoever the other readers may be, it’s a safe bet that employees are perusing their boss’s online entries. And that can make blogs a valuable management tool.
“At Intel, CEO and President Paul Otellini writes about company initiatives, new accounts, and other news on an internal blog available to Intel’s 80,000 employees. And at HP, Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager of business-critical servers, views his public blog as a way to promote a whole new style of management.
“‘A lot of the traditional Management 101 you might have read 10 years ago doesn’t apply anymore,” he says. “It’s much more about leading in a way that’s a good balance between who you are as a person and what you’re doing at work, showing that you’re just as comfortable dealing with poetry as with profit and loss.’
“Marcello’s blog, launched in December, includes entries that are all business–celebrating a good quarterly result or the completion of an important project. But some are far more philosophical musings on management style. And some, like a poem he wrote about his late father for his Father’s Day posting, are strictly personal.
“Marcello feels his frank and wide-ranging blog, which had drawn 32,000 visits as of May, ultimately promotes better relationships between managers and employees: ‘In traditional management, the boss knows stuff and the employees don’t. I’m trying to say, ‘Hey, you can see it all.’ ‘ ”
Whatever the means of communication, on any level, clarity is the key to effectivity. And effective business communications is vital to any company’s efficiency and productivity, both internally and externally. Whether an employee or a CEO, learning how to be an effective communicator is a must in the business environment.