Internal and external comms are two different beasts, with two very different sets of needs to drive and achieve success. However, nestled at the intersection of both is the need to inject some care, consideration and empathy to solve problems, build teams and enhance relationships with readers. We’ve explored the differences between internal and external comms and asked just how important exercising empathy is in working life.
So, what is external communications?
External comms teams communicate with the world outside of the organisation, establishing company voice, image and strategically sharing content to educate, inform and build trust with the public. The primary aim of external comms departments is to connect with anyone who comes into contact with the organisation from an outsider’s perspective.
And what is internal communications?
In contrast, internal comms is centred around advancing effective communications within the boundaries of an organisation, developing messaging and opening up a dialogue across all levels and disciplines. Internal comms keeps employees informed, exchanges ideas and information throughout the organisation either within or across hierarchies.
Why is empathy important in communications?
Think of empathy as a bridge between you and your audience. By walking a mile in your readership’s shoes, it becomes easier to build a meaningful relationship, rooted in trust and understanding, that then establish solid foundations that determine how your reader feels about your organisation.
Bridges and shoes aside, injecting empathy into all facets of your internal and external comms creates a shared organisational drive and enhances your audiences’ experience of your content. Balancing a data-focused approach with a human-centred mindset is crucial to keeping people at the heart of your comms strategies.
And, by unifying internal and external comms teams behind an investment in empathy, you can facilitate continuity and buy-in from across all levels of the organisation. Not only are you connecting with your readers but enabling separate teams can connect with each other.
How can I embed empathy into my internal and external communications strategy?
The internet can be a cold, dark place, and we’re working hard to help comms teams to bring back some empathy into the digital sphere. Although distinct entities, internal and external comms strategies should work in harmony to share the company message across a diverse range of audiences. To embed empathy into your internal and external comms strategies, we recommend that you:
1) Pay Attention to your Audience
In both internal and external comms, it is critical to pay attention to your audience to convey value. By employing feedback tools within your external comms strategy, you can capture the voice of your audience, find out how external comms content is really performing and serve the public better.
As for internal comms, paying attention to your audience is also important – the audience just looks a little different. Listening actively and empathetically, considering differing opinions and seeking to understand what is being said by stakeholders at all levels of seniority will improve relationships and foster an empathetic organisational culture.
2) Adapt and Take Action
There’s no good in paying attention to your audience if the listening is not closely followed by adaption and action. Yes, sometimes lending an ear is all a friend may need, but in the workplace, it’s more than likely that feedback is being relayed to instigate change.
Practising empathy is a practical endeavour as much as a philosophical stance. Once you have taken the time to hear what your colleagues and employees need you to hear, make swift moves to demonstrate that you have taken their opinions on board.
3) Continually Reflect
For both teams, it’s important to look back and see just how far you’ve come in the journey towards empathetic communication but to always keep in mind how far there might be to go.
Luckily, there are many resource-saving tools available to take the time and guesswork out of empathy and provide invaluable insight into your audience’s sentiment. React & Share enables external comms teams to create high-quality content with real human feedback. And, in the remote digital era, internal comms tools are rapidly expanding to bring people together in new and exciting ways.
Empathy not only brings you closer to your audience but serves as a crucial link between internal and external comms teams. In empathising with your audience, you will be able to understand your reader and answer their questions more effectively.
Through paying attention to your readers, adapting, taking action and continually reflecting on your methods, comms teams across the board can naturally embed empathy into their strategies to advance shared organisational missions.
Book a free demo and find out more about how React & Share can help you use feedback to embed empathy into your comms.