Electronic Communications

Cite this article as:"Electronic Communications," in The Business Professor, updated October 4, 2019, last accessed July 7, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/electronic-communications/.

Next Article: Writing Business Reports

Back to: Business Management

Technology as a Strategic Force Influencing Communications

Electronic communication has numerous benefits and advantages for communication, including:

  • Effortless communication – Effectiveness, ease of use and speed.
  • Collection and analysis of data – Safety and storage space of databases
  • Clearer and more useful messages – Use of Word Processing. Shared reports and area for work
  • Steady communication in geographically discrete locations – Teleworking and Public workspaces

Appropriate Use of Technology

  • Determine the Purpose of the Message – If the message is straightforward and informative, a technological channel may be appropriate. It cannot replace the personal interaction essential in today’s team-based environments. Consider whether a permanent records of the message is needed.
  • Determine whether the information is Personal or Confidential – Keep personal correspondence off-line if you don’t want it published to the entire world. Even deleted emails are easily resurrected.
  • Decide Whether Positive Human relations are Sacrificed – Some news transmits better in personal format – where electronic message may have a cold or impersonal perception. Some people, particularly in other cultures, may prefer a personal meeting even where an electronic communication would be a more efficient channel.

Electronic Mail Communication

Advantages of Email include:

  • Facilitates fast, convenient flow of info across locations and time zones.
  • Increases efficiency (lag time)
  • Reduces Cost
  • Reduces Paper Waste

Guidelines for Preparing Email Messages

  • Single Users or Distribution Lists
  • Provide a Useful Subject Line
  • Restate the subject in the body of the message.
  • Focus on a single topic directed towards the receiver’s needs.
  • Sequence your ideas base on anticipated reader reaction. (Remember – Inductive vs. Deductive)
  • Make careful use of jargon, technical words, and shortened terms.
  • Use graphic highlighting to add emphasis.
  • Revise your email before clicking to send.
  • Focus on readability, purpose & complete content, importance of message, brevity and conciseness, tone & goodwill.

Effective Use of Email

Guidelines for fundamental netiquette include:

  • Check mail promptly
  • Do not contribute to email overload.
  • Include only necessary individuals on email.
  • Don’t send a general action email and request individual responses. (No one takes responsibility)
  • Avoid sending formatted documents.
  • Edit original messages in body before forwarding if entire email is not needed. (Indicate edited)
  • Observe corporate policy for use of private email.

Use Email Selectively

  • Make sure it fits your topic and purpose.
  • Do not send message when you are angry. Subject to misinterpretation due to absence of nonverbal communications. Usually regrettable later – but are permanent.
  • Exercise caution against email viruses and hoaxes Install antivirus software. Open and forward suspicious emails cautiously. Avoid email chains, hoax emails.
  • Develop and Effective System for Handling Email. Keep your inbox clean. Set up a system for prioritizing and handling important emails. (Folders, etc.) Set up system for saving and locating emails for quick retrieval.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (or messaging through a software/application, such as Slack) is becoming a very important business tool for both internal and external communication. The downside of these messages is that it is subject to informal appearance and sloppiness. It can help to have pre-constructed paragraphs for specific purposes.

Text Messaging

  • Text messaging growing in business communication: particularly in advertising.
  • There is a premium on conciseness.
  • It can be used as an avoidance mechanism that preserves feeling of communication without the burden of actual substance or intimacy.
  • It lacks the relative completeness and formality of an email.

Electronic Messages and the Law

Companies can monitor internal email, IM, and other communication systems. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) calls for a specific business reason for monitoring communication channels. Many employment agreement contain clauses for express consent to monitor communication channels. Electronic communicators must abide by a number of laws:

  • Intellectual Property (Copyright, Trademark)
  • Privacy
  • Endorsement
  • Libel, Slander, Disparagement
  • Fraud

To quote, ironically, Elliot Spitzer, “Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in an email that you don’t want on the front page of the newspaper.”

Webpage Communication

The primary forums for webpage communication are as follows:

  • Intranet – Use the web to distribute internal information to employees at numerous locations.
  • Extranet – Restrict access to visitors with authorization, such as passwords.
  • Public Web Presence – Extends Company’s reach significantly and provides potential customers or clients with an always-available source of information and contact.

Writing for a Website

Web users generally skim webpages, rather than read in detail. Some techniques for Web Writing include:

  • Be Brief – Specifically, they scan in the style of an F. Individuals scan columns easier than rows. As a practice, use more categories, groups and headings. More lists than in typical document format)Readers rarely read directions, so make instructions very clear and apparent in numbered steps.
  • Keep it Simple (simple direct words that meet various educational backgrounds)
  • Consider appropriate jargon (Don’t use unless universally shared by your readers.)
  • Use Eye-Catching Headlines
  • Break longer documents into smaller chunks
  • Use attention getting devices judiciously (Fonts, Colors, Graphics).
  • Avoid placing critical information in graphic form only.

Writing Wikis

This is a collaborative website that hosts the collective work of many authors. It allows anyone to edit, delete, or modify content, even the work of previous authors. Avoid the first-person blogging style and conform to the tone and flow of the existing article. Useful in business to encourage the free flow of ideas within the organization.

Writing Weblogs or Blogs

Basically, an online journal, scrapbook, database, etc. Websites are often static components of a non-static blog. Blogging can be molded for marketing, commercial publishing, and as knowledge management tool. Good for storing knowledge in archives for future use. This often becomes the face of a business’ image. Allows for mass interaction with customers or potential customers. Marketing – Content is king.

Voice and Wireless Communication

The sound of your voice is important – make certain it sets a welcomed tone. Voicemail, like email, should be treated as permanent. Guidelines for effective voicemail:

  • Update your greeting often to meet special purposes.
  • Leave your email address, fax, or mailing address if helpful to callers.
  • Encourage callers to leave detailed messages. (Such as requesting full name, subject, and telephone number)
  • Instruct on how to review messages or reach an operator.
  • Check voicemail regularly and return calls within 24 hrs.

Effective Communication in Leaving Voicemail

  • Speak slowly and clearly and repeat your name and phone number at beginning and end of message.
  • Spell you name if difficult and requires correct spelling.
  • Leave a detailed message (not just name and number) to avoid game of phone tag.
  • Keep your message under 60 seconds.
  • Ensure your message is understandable (reduce background noise, or weak signal areas)

Cell Phone Communication

Guidelines for cell phone communications:

  • Observe wireless-free quiet zones.
  • Respect others in crowded spaces.
  • Think safety. (Cell phone use and driving.)

Was this article helpful?