Enhancing External Communication: Building an Organization’s Reputation

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External communication is one of the most critical functions in an organization, as it is the public face and voice of an organization. Despite this, finding the best approach to integrate the wide range of scattered activities of the function can be very challenging, especially in today’s continuously changing business environment.

Two of the delineators of an effective and efficient External Communications group is how well it is organized to deliver services to internal and external customers and how clearly its role and responsibilities are defined. In order to ensure effectiveness of this critical function, executives can learn from the best practices of leading organizations. From our benchmarking research we found the following key trends from the External Communications function:

  1. Differentiated Services: Differentiated services hold great value during times of resource reductions. For External Communications, continue to employ differentiated services in conjunction with customer-issue specialists and clearly defined prioritization rules. Across industries, Communications leaders observe the most effective approach for serving internal customers is to assign staff 100% to either customers and/or an issue/topic. Continue to do this with differentiated service among stakeholders.
  2. Communication Outsourcing Activities: Across the bio-pharma sector, outsourcing appears as a key tactic to manage variable issues and budgets – although the prevalence of outsourcing appears to be much higher in the U.S. than other parts of the world. On average, companies reported only 9% of their External Communications employees worldwide are outsourced whereas 19% of External Communications employees in the U.S. are outsourced.
  3. Integrate/Align Internal & External Communications to Leverage Resources & Standards: A small but passionate group of communications leaders advocated the combination of Internal and External Communications groups to leverage resources, enhance messaging consistency and standardize communications. Integration might be accomplished through combining the groups or establishing one communications leader to head both sub-functions. 

The external communications function continues to evolve as new technologies are introduced and marketplace demands increase. In order to keep pace with the many demands facing external communications groups, leaders must constantly reevaluate their processes, technology, communications, incentives and other management factors.

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