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Four Leadership Communication Channels Cheat Sheet by

communications     leadership     channels


Just as indivi­duals use different forms of commun­ica­tio­ns—­words, gestures, signals of attent­ive­nes­s—o­rga­niz­ations use various commun­ication channels. Typically an organi­zation utilizes four types of commun­ica­tions, or channels. While it may be advant­ageous to use all four channels to commun­icate a single initia­tive, it is often feasible to select a single channel for a particular message.

Organi­zat­ional commun­ica­tions

Organi­zat­ional commun­ica­tions refers to the ways in which indivi­duals, teams, and the entire organi­zation commun­icate one to one, group to group, or organi­zation wide. There are no hard and fast rules about what is and what is not "­org­ani­zat­ional commun­ica­tio­ns,­" but think of it this way: It is the way messages are dissem­inated throughout an organi­zation.

Organi­zat­ional commun­ica­tions can be as simple as a single email, or as complex as a media campaign regarding transf­orm­ation. No single entity has ownership of organi­zat­ional commun­ica­tions; it belongs to everyone. Why? Because commun­icating with others is each person's respon­sib­ility.

Editorial commun­ica­tions

Editorial commun­ica­tions refers to messages designed to elicit endors­ement from a third party, typically the media and by extension the public at large. Public relations depart­ments send out media releases to describe what is going on inside an organi­zation; these releases may cover new products and services or discuss internal develo­pments related to people and programs. By and large, these releases convey a single point of view that is favorable to the company. These forms of commun­ica­tions are designed to be used by external media (broad­cas­ters, period­icals, newspa­pers, trade public­ations) to develop their stories, which the organi­zation hopes will be both inform­ative and positive.

Many large organi­zations also have in-house commun­ication channels involving the develo­pment of articles for the organi­zat­ion's newsletter or web site. You can also consider a speech or a guest op-ed column by a company CEO as another form of editorial commun­ica­tions. In this instance, there is little filter between the leader and the public, since the leader's opinion is commun­icated directly, without benefit of interp­ret­ation by a reporter.

Commun­ication Channels

Marketing commun­ica­tions

Marketing commun­ica­tions refers to commun­ica­tions designed to present a point of view, e.g., to sell or promote. Think of advert­ising. What you see in a 30-second television spot or a four-color print ad commun­icates a message that is paid for by the organi­zation. The same technique can be adopted by organi­zations that wish to sell the benefits of organi­zat­ional transf­orm­ation.

Marketing commun­ica­tions is especially effective for commun­icating a sense of urgency. You can structure the message so that you concen­trate on the WIFM (what's in it for me?) as a means of persuading people that the change, the program, or the initiative is good for them as indivi­duals and for the entire company.

Web commun­ica­tions

Web commun­ica­tions are commun­ica­tions that reside on the web site. These messages may be developed solely as e-mess­ages, or they may be retreads of articles, videos, and other media.

The Web itself, however, can be a very powerful tool for enabling a leader to speak directly to his or her people. There are two popular methods. One is a webcast, which is a video telecast of a presen­tation or a conver­sation that is transm­itted over the Web and restricted to subscr­ibers, e.g., employees, dealers, media, or other groups. The other is a webchat, which enables a leader to respond to questions submitted via email. Sometimes the reply is sent out audio only or as a text message. Both methods are very direct means of getting to key issues. In addition, they can be replayed at the Web user's conven­ience or archived on the web site for later reference.

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