The importance of effective communication
A Building Societies Association case study

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Page 3: Communication media

A business will need to provide messages in different formats or media. This depends on the individual needs of different stakeholders and whether the message is internal or external.

  • Internal communications take place within the organisation. The BSA communicates internally with its members using detailed policy briefs and updates, as well as a monthly newsletter and quarterly magazine. The BSA also promotes career opportunities for employees and potential employees on its website.  
  • External communications take place with people or bodies outside the organisation such as regulators, the government and the press. Any communication provides an opportunity for good public relations (PR). The BSA provides press releases and case studies through its own media centre.  To communicate effectively, the message needs the correct medium. This depends on the nature of the communication and the direction of the message across, up or down an organisation or group.

Vertical communication up and down the organisation may be necessary when a particular message must be delivered quickly and exactly, for example, a change to interest rates on a product. This change needs to be understood throughout the society from the marketing department who advertise through to the branch staff who sell it to members.

Lateral communication across the organisation may be within building societies or between them and their customers. For example, when informing members of legal changes, a letter to individual members would be the most appropriate route. If the society wanted to communicate to new or prospective customers/members, then TV or leaflet advertising would be effective.

Building societies deal with members' money and the purchase of their homes. They work within a legal framework, which requires formal communications. Formal communication uses a set format and has a record kept. Examples include annual reports, briefing notes, leaflets, factsheets, letters, seminars and training courses. These are all effective in carrying the formal messages of the building society.

Other media include presentations, member groups and panels, newsletters and new technology. Informal communications, such as the office 'grapevine' can be effective channels. However, they are more appropriate for non-urgent issues or for communication on a one-to-one basis, for example, building society employees talking to each other in a branch.


Building Societies Association | The importance of effective communication