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Old Monday, August 19, 2013
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Default Jounalism notes 3


What is communication?

Communication can be defined as the exchange of information between one group or person and another group or person. This communication can be between people within the same organisation (internal communication) or with people or groups outside the organisation (external communication)

The purpose of communication

There are various specific reasons why we communicate. These are:
WHY COMMUNICATE? To give information To gather information To give reassurance To clarify issues To start action
To give information

A common reason for communication is to give information. For example, a manager may want to tell people when a meeting has been arranged, or to inform people of Health and Safety requirements. Communicating with customers to tell them about a new product through advertising and promotion is also an example.

To gather information

People in organisations need information to help them make decisions. For example, the managing director may ask for sales figures from different regions or the personnel manager may want information about accidents and injuries in the workplace. We may also need to communicate with our suppliers to find out the price of goods etc.

To give reassurance

Information is needed to reassure people that they are doing things correctly or that things are happening in an organisation. For example, employees may feel better if they are given a written report on their work. A manager may want a report to reassure him or her that safety checks are being carried out properly.

To clarify issues and points

Communications are required to clarify anything that may be confusing in an organisation. For example, if employees are not sure who they should report to after being absent from work, then this can be made clear in a written notice.

To start action

Communications are important in getting new ideas off the ground. For example, if managers want to introduce a major change in an organisation, they may call everyone together to tell them what will be happening.

To influence action

Communications are required to make sure that things happen in a desired way. For example, if output is falling and costs are rising in a company, managers may need to warn staff that if things don’t improve the business may fold.

In order to communicate effectively, there are certain stages of the communication process that must occur. We can show these stages in the form of a diagram.
Effective communication is a two way process. If there were no feedback, you would not know whether the message has been understood or not.
Communication can occur in different directions. The most common of these are horizontal and vertical.


This occurs among employees at the same level of an organisation structure. This could be staff within the same department or staff with the same level of seniority in different departments (i.e. all of the secretaries).


This occurs when a person who is at a higher level of the organisation structure, communicates with a person or a group who is below them in the structure. Very often this is to give instructions or to pass on important information.


This occurs when a person communicates with a person or group above them in the organisation structure (i.e. someone more senior). This communication often passes on information relating to targets that have been set or is a response to enquiries from more senior staff.
To communicate effectively, you must get the following combination of elements correct.


Knowing exactly what you want to say is one of the most important elements in effective communication. If you do not know what you are saying, how can you expect someone else to understand you? It is generally a good idea to keep messages short and to the point.


The media you choose should be appropriate for the message you are putting across. It could be verbal (spoken), non-verbal (body language, expression, tone of voice) or written (memos, reports, letters, posters
How the message arrives at its destination is also important. The most effective communication goes from the sender to the receiver in one step. However, business sometimes complicate matters by sending messages via other people (such as your boss or secretary). Sometimes information gets muddled (like Chinese whispers).


If you don’t send a message at the right time, you may as well not send it at all as it will be ineffective. Sending Christmas cards in June is not effective, neither is telling someone they have done a good job and then sacking them!


If the above elements have all been carried out effectively then the receiver should be able to communicate back to the sender what the message was, or ask questions relating to it. Feedback also allows the sender to discover whether the communication has been successful or not.

Formal or InFormal

In addition communication can be formal or informal. Formal communications tends to be written (especially in the form of letters, reports and emorandums) or verbal (i.e. meetings). Formal communication involves business related matters. Informal communication tends to be more verbal, face to face (i.e. meeting someone in the corridor) or written (i.e. a poster of a notice board). It generally relates to less important business matters or other issues such as social occasions or ‘the grapevine’ i.e. gossip.


Here is a list of the different communications media which can be used which has been broken down into whether they are mainly used internally (within a business), externally (between businesses) or can be either.
Internal Grapevine (gossip)
Memorandum (memo)
Internal e-mail
Notice board
Employee newsletter
External Postal service
Customer magazine
Public relations material
Either Phone
This is not an exhaustive list but gives you some indication of what is seen as an acceptable way to communicate with external stakeholders of the organisation.
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