Effective Business Communications from the Inside Out

With today’s focus on social media – quick posts on LinkedIn, photos on videos, videos on TikTok – it can feel like there is no role for traditional writing as a form of business communications.  Not true!  Writing remains critical for internal and external audiences, as a way to communicate essential information in a way that others can access and use.

Writing for Internal and External Audiences

We write for many reasons. In business communications, we often start by asking, who is our audience?  Let’s look at different ways to professionally communicate both inside and outside an organization.


Here are common business writing examples for internal audiences:

  • Announcements about internal business operations, important leadership updates, success stories or memos communicating new policies or strategic direction.
  • Policies, procedures and checklists.
  • Project or team artifacts, like project plans, system guides, roles and responsibilities summaries, budget justifications or position papers.

And here are common examples for external audiences:

  • Any business communication to clients and customers – emails, reports, formal letters.
  • Press releases, annual reports, important shareholder updates.
  • Success stories, public interest stories or community engagement updates.

There are some key differences to consider when communicating with internal versus internal audiences. While communications with all audiences should always be professional, there are some differences, based on different levels of familiarity, shared context and goals.

Purpose and Goals:

Internal communication is often designed to inform, motivate, align or instruct employees. It may involve disseminating important updates, clarifying expectations, fostering teamwork or providing training.

External communication typically focuses on building brand awareness, attracting customers, increasing sales or managing the organization’s reputation. It may involve marketing campaigns, public relations efforts or customer support interactions.

Familiarity and Shared Context: 

An internal audience will generally already have a shared understanding of the organization’s culture, processes, and goals. They are likely familiar with internal jargon, acronyms and procedures. While you should always try to write in plain language, you can assume more preexisting knowledge with internal audiences.

In contrast, external audiences may not be familiar with the inner workings of the organization. They may need more background information and explanations to fully understand the message.

Depth of Information:

Remember why you are communicating, and what people need based on that. Internal audiences often need detailed and in-depth information about projects, strategies and policies to perform their roles effectively. They may need access to proprietary data or internal reports.

In contrast, external audiences generally want more concise and high-level information. They are often interested in how products or services benefit them, rather than the intricate details of how they are developed or delivered.  Focus on the why and what, rather than the how.

Tone and Language:

Depending on your culture, business communication with internal audiences can be more informal and relaxed, using internal terminology and casual language. Remember though, the tone should still be respectful and professional.

Unless your company is publicly known for its casual culture, communication to external audiences should be more formal and polished, avoiding internal jargon and using language that is easily understandable to a broader audience. It should also reflect the brand’s tone and values.

Feedback and Interaction:

In terms of internal business communication, channels often allow for more immediate feedback and interaction. Managing feedback effectively and respectfully is an important skill here.

External feedback may be more indirect and come through channels like customer surveys, social media comments or product reviews. Organizations need to actively listen and respond to this feedback to maintain positive relationships with external stakeholders. Effective responses to negative feedback are a special form of business communication and deserve special focus.

Business communication should always be professional. However, you can use these tips to tailor messages effectively to engage and resonate with both internal and external audiences.

Getting Started with Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) like ChatGPT, CoPilot and others are buzzing in the business world, offering a new frontier for communication.  Generative AI can become your virtual brainstorming buddy who’s always ready to help you enhance efficiency, creativity and effectiveness.

Let’s break it down a bit. There are basically two ways to think about applying AI to support business communications in your organization.  First off, there’s the personal level giving you a hand with your day-to-day tasks.   It’s like having your own writing assistant on standby. The second way is to use AI on an organizational level – a broader more strategic approach of using AI to streamline processes and boost productivity.

Here are some ways you can leverage generative AI in business communications:

Content Generation:  Feeling stuck and need some new fresh ideas for your next project? Reach out to your AI buddy and ask it for help for help generating content ideas.   For example, using Generative AI you can ask it to generate a certain number of words on a specific topic as a writing prompt, or ask for a list of ten things to consider with respect to a certain topic.  Or maybe you want AI to help you draft a letter on a certain topic, like a possible response to a customer complaint.  AI-powered writing assistants provide a head start and save you time, drafting initial versions of these communications, saving time for human reviewers to refine and personalize them further.  In addition, using AI as a writing assistant can help you identify whether there are elements of your topic you missed.

Content Summarization and Analysis:  Use Generative AI to summarize lengthy documents, articles, or reports into bite-sized nuggets of information, making it easier for you and others to grasp key points. Additionally, AI-powered content analysis tools can extract key insights, trends and sentiments from large volumes of textual data, facilitating data-driven decision-making and strategic planning.  This may also help you assess the quality of your reports – if you ask AI to summarize a report you wrote, it can help you spot any gaps or inconsistencies in your own work.

Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Picture this, a customer visits your website with a question and BAM! At the organizational level, AI chatbots or virtual assistants are helpful for handling customer inquiries, providing support and engaging with website visitors or users of your products/services. These AI-driven systems offer instant responses and solutions, improving customer satisfaction and reducing workloads.  At a personal level, grammar check software is increasingly powered by AI, helping you develop your writing skills through that feedback.

Personalized Marketing Content:  Some companies use AI models (and magic) to generate personalized marketing content tailored to individual customers based on their preferences, browsing history, demographics and purchase behavior. This can include personalized emails, product recommendations, and targeted advertising messages, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Language Translation: Generative AI is now showing up more and more in translation services, on web browsers and in video-conferencing services. AI is breaking down language barriers by helping translate business documents, marketing materials and customer communications into multiple languages making communication smoother and more accessible than ever before.

With generative AI by your side, the possibilities for business communication are endless.  However, it’s vital to prioritize data privacy, ethical considerations and human oversight to make sure that AI-generated content aligns with brand values, resonates with the target audience and maintains quality standards.

A Closer Look: Pros and Cons of Generative AI

While generative AI is the new shiny object, promising to revolutionize the way we communicate, it comes with its fair share of pros and cons.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages generative AI offers to business communications:

  • Efficiency: Time is money. Generative AI helps you save both. Use generative AI to help create routine communications, such as emails, reports and customer responses. This frees up valuable time to handle large volumes of communications more efficiently, so you can focus on projects and endeavors that most need human touch.
  • Consistency: Maintain consistency in tone, style, and messaging across different communication channels, ensuring a cohesive brand voice and enhancing brand reputation. This consistency helps in building trust and familiarity with the audience over time.
  • Scalability: When launching an AI model at the organization level, generative AI enables businesses to scale their communications efforts without significant increases in labor. Whether it’s handling customer inquiries, creating marketing content or generating personalized messages, AI can scale to meet the demands of growing businesses or sudden spikes in communication volumes.
  • Personalization: Personalize communications for individual customers using AI algorithms (or coding) through tailored messaging based on their preferences, behaviors and past interactions with the brand. This personalized approach enhances customer engagement, loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Speed: Generative AI can generate content at a much faster pace than human writers, enabling businesses to respond to customer inquiries, market trends or industry developments in real-time. This agility is particularly beneficial in fast-paced industries where rapid communication is crucial for staying competitive.

There are some real risks and potential disadvantages associated with using Generative AI:

  • Quality and Accuracy: While AI works wonders, it’s not perfect. AI may not always produce content of the same specificity, quality or accuracy as human-generated content. Errors, inaccuracies or tone-deaf responses can occur, leading to misunderstandings, confusion or damage to the brand’s reputation.
  • Lack of Creativity: AI-generated content draws from preexisting material, so it lacks the creativity, nuance and originality that human writers can provide. For example, while using AI to generate a draft response to a customer may save time, it can sound very generic. Using AI can result in formulaic messaging that fails to resonate with the audience or differentiate your brand.
  • Overreliance on Technology: Dependence on generative AI for communications may lead to overreliance on technology, diminishing the importance of human judgment, intuition and human-centered stories. Generally, a good deal of editing is needed to take AI-generated content and make it feel more personal.
  • Privacy and Security Concerns: AI-powered communication systems may raise concerns about data privacy and security. This is particularly true when the work involves sensitive customer information or personal data (like generated during a sale). Organizations need security measures to protect confidential information.

Like any tool, generative AI has an important role in supporting business communications with both internal and external audiences.  Use AI to assist, not replace, you and your human perspective with those tasks where you need a little extra help.  Maximizing the benefits, while staying watchful for the disadvantages, can help advance your skills and impact.

Pryor has a full training collection on Grammar and Business Writing – these offerings can help you maximize your impact with both internal and external audiences, and can support your ability to effectively work with AI-inspired content.