Whether you plan to run your own company or to achieve a valuable qualification that renders you indispensable to others within the business sector, the careful development of your business communication skills is key.
Without the investment of time and money into this highly specialized element, the brand with which you work will fall behind its competitors and struggle to attract and retain a customer base. Brand leaders and managers in the know understand how to select and develop the most talented communications experts to give their enterprise a boost.
So, what does business communications involve, and how can it be used to create as strong a brand image as possible? What is the key to success in business communications, and how can you become a qualified expert in the field? In this article, we’ll explore this incredibly important practice, examine just a few ways in which organizations can use it to successfully capture audience attention, and discuss ways in which you can position yourself to achieve this kind of employment.
What does “business communications” mean?
There is far more to business communications than first meets the eye. It is a field of expertise that focuses on the effective, engaging and accessible dissemination of information between the owners and managers of an organization, its internal staff, customers, clients and stakeholders.
While high-quality, well-crafted content is integral, the specialty goes far beyond the verbal. It involves almost every element that provides a company with a cohesive identity and serves to develop a strong relationship with collaborators and end users.
Many business owners mistakenly believe that communication duties can be easily absorbed into other roles without training or development, but this almost invariably results in this key skill being neglected. When this happens, the outcome is often a significant reduction in customer satisfaction and a poor reputation that directly impacts the sense of trust enjoyed by the brand.
Below, we’ll look into the inner workings of business communications and the impact of this specialty on a company’s brand image.
What are some of the key elements of business communications?
Business communications specialists must hone their skills in a number of areas to make sure their approach is as effective as possible. This is not something that can be learned overnight. In fact, it involves a highly complex set of duties that must be carefully developed. Most educators and leading voices on the subject concur that a comprehensive approach to business communications should focus on the following in order to support the development of an excellent brand image:
Whatever message you are communicating, and whatever its intended recipients and purpose, it is vital that the language and approach used are clear and accessible.
Straightforwardness and simplicity are key. The initial content must be kept concise in order to engage the right audiences and direct their attention to relevant products and services.
If there is more in-depth information to be provided, it may be accessed via links, which allows the reader to explore as much or as little as they choose at any time without feeling bombarded.
At all times, those engaging with a company’s communications must be able to quickly gain a clear understanding of the core message, why it is being shared and what they can do in response, including how and when this should be done.
The messaging shared with all parties — both internally and externally — should be representative of the company’s identity, and instantly recognizable as such. To this end, it is extremely important that all communications remain consistent when it comes to tone of voice, type of content and even visual presentation.
If there are multiple individuals working on a company’s communications, they must all have an innate and in-depth understanding of the writing style and voice to be used. It’s also important to remain consistent with logistical matters, such as the regularity of posting.
Visual aspects should always reflect the company’s branding, such as font style and size, the aesthetics and orientation of images used and the color palette that is employed.
However, consistency is not the same as restriction. An organization can produce a diverse variety of content types, using numerous platforms and media formats, as long as that content clearly forms part of a cohesive whole that reflects its brand values.
All communications must remain relevant to an organization’s practices and values. This will lend a sense of trustworthiness to all messaging, due to the strong impression of expertise and quality that it will engender. It may also convince customers and stakeholders to interact with the company in the long term, as it will quickly become an entity that they recognize and understand — promoting a feeling of reassurance.
It’s vital for business communications specialists to gain a clear grasp of their target audience. This should be based on quantifiable information rather than conjecture and guesswork.
Ideally, all companies should undertake extensive and intelligent demographic research, which should involve collecting data on the segments of society that are most likely to interact with their products and services, and developing an understanding of any gaps, so they can adjust their messaging accordingly. This data should then be used to plan ongoing communications.
Elements to be considered include the platforms most likely to be used by relevant audience members, the types of engagement they generally prefer, the regularity with which communications should be sent, the content of those communications and the calls to action that tend to prove most effective.
It’s also important to consider the levels of accessibility that may be required, from language to technology and beyond. Even aspects such as a company’s level of responsiveness to incoming communications, and the manner of its responses, should be carefully honed.
We’ve mentioned this briefly in the section above, but there is more to be said about the mediums and platforms that can be employed by a company for the purposes of communication with staff, partners and customers.
Naturally, it’s important to adhere to the preferences of the target audience, but it’s also vital to gain an appreciation of platforms and formats to which the organization’s products, services and brand identity lend themselves best.
For example, if an organization’s operations involve, or chiefly focus on, things that are visually engaging, those in charge of its communications may decide that Instagram will play a major role in messaging provision. If the company regularly runs events, Facebook may be an integral platform for its purposes.
The structural hierarchy of communications dissemination — both internally and externally — is also a vitally important aspect to take into account. When considering communications within your organization, you must develop clear roles and ensure that everyone involved understands their responsibilities when it comes to the circulation of information and messaging. There should also be clarity surrounding communications between representatives of your business and external parties, such as customers and partners.
In order to maintain a constant tone of voice and ensure clear tracking of all activities, these duties should only be assigned to a very few people, with a strict hierarchy in place. These individuals should be thoroughly trained with regard to their responsibilities, the means of communication they may use, and the powers they will have when interacting with entities outside of the organization.
Below, we’ll explore external and internal communications in greater depth, and explain how these elements feed into the development of a strong brand image.
External and internal communications in business
Employees and business owners must employ well-honed business communications skills when working to attract consumer attention and direct potential customers to their products and services.
When developing content for this purpose, these specialists must focus heavily on the relevance of what they are saying. The more an audience can be narrowed down to those most interested in, or in need of, an organization’s offerings, the more likely they are to convert and become paying customers rather than visitors.
Of course, the technical quality of the content must be excellent. Expertly crafted communications featuring engaging and accessible language cannot be underestimated. Matters such as search engine optimization and creative content development are key here. There must be a sense of dynamism at all times, with a level of responsiveness that helps both new and returning customers and partners to feel heard and appreciated.
Internal communications constitute a key element of business management. If there is an insufficient flow of information between branches, departments or even individuals, workflow and efficiency may be severely impacted.
This in turn may negatively impact the standard of any products, or the speed and quality of services provided. As a result, poor reviews will be more likely, new customers harder to attract and maintaining a pool of returning customers extremely difficult indeed.
To this end, an organization’s staffing structure must always take into account the transfer of information and instruction, making every contributor’s responsibilities clear.
How to become a business communications specialist
The elements of strong business communications and effective brand building are inextricable from one another. Communication is an aspect that business owners cannot afford to ignore. For this reason, business communications specialists are vital to the successful running of any company, which means they are also constantly in demand.
Find the right undergraduate degree
The first step towards securing lucrative employment as a business communications specialist should be to find the right bachelor’s course or similar program at the right university, college or other educational provider. Courses such as business management, business strategy and marketing will help you to lay excellent groundwork for your future in this field.
The majority of business owners are aware that they need to invest in communications. As a result, companies regularly hire for roles of this kind. You will undoubtedly also find plenty of options for internships offered to graduate and post-graduate students who want to further their careers in business communications. These opportunities are ideal for those seeking to build on their academic experience and hone their craft as they earn.
Get your master’s degree
If you want to progress further, whether you’re interested in starting a business of your own or climbing the ranks of another organization, the most beneficial first step is to enroll in a master’s program. These courses are designed to help you to specialize, and to give you the edge over other candidates within your industry. Excitingly, it’s now becoming even easier to achieve a post-graduate degree of this kind without missing a beat when it comes to earning and keeping up with your day-to-day responsibilities.
There is a growing range of educational establishments that offer an online Master in Communication course. Those students enrolled in these programs can complete the learning experience remotely. For example, St. Bonaventure University offers an exceptional Communication Master’s course that can be completed online, which means you can study for this qualification wherever you’re based. This eliminates the need to commute, to live away from home or to adhere to a strict schedule around which all other pressing aspects of life must fit. Students of the course can choose to concentrate on content marketing or integrated marketing communications and can receive their degree in as little as 22 months.
As you will have seen above, the world of business communications is a complex and layered one that requires significant study if a brand is to rise head and shoulders above its competitors.
Individuals who aspire to climb the corporate ladder or achieve success with their own organization will quickly understand the vital importance of well-developed communication skills. More and more people are realizing that a qualification in business communications will prepare them for a greater level of success.