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 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 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.
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 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.