Business communication as an area of study within the broader field of communication attempts to elevate understanding in business, whether it is internal (between members of a company) or external (between the company and outside customers, distributors, media, government, or clients), official or unofficial.
Communication facilitates and expedites the basic functions of business management—planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling.
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Because of the sheer size of many of today’s organizations, communication plays a very important role in managing the organization at its many levels of hierarchy. Effective and efficient communication promotes business interests while effecting change and influencing action, both within the organization and beyond it.
The study of business communication involves understanding that it may accomplish any number of objectives, or goals. In other words, business communication is used for a variety of reasons, such as:
- For instruction: Involves transmitting directives and guidance as to enable others to accomplish particular tasks
- For integration: Involves integrating activities as to encourage unity among the various functions of a business
- For information: Involves becoming informed or informing others
- For evaluation: Involves examining activities as to form a judgment or opinion of their worth
- For direction: Involves communication by the top management to lower-level employees
- For influencing: Involves having the potential to influence or persuade others
- For image building: involves understanding the interrelationship and interdependence between society and an enterprise operating in that society
What is Business Communication?
Business and communication are intrinsically related, and it’s easy to see why. Successful business transactions require exchanging facts, ideas, assessments and even opinions—all of which require effective communication.
Today, communication in business means communicating across multiple languages, socio-economic groups and cultures that may be present within a single enterprise. Using both traditional avenues and emerging channels, effective communication has been a key factor in making global business a reality.
Business communication, also called organizational communication, describes all messages sent and received with the official purpose of running, managing, and conducting the formal affairs of a business or organization. As such, the success of a business depends largely on the effectiveness of its communication, both internally and externally.
Business communication takes place:
- Among businesses
- In markets and marketplaces
- Within organizations
- Between various groups of employees
- Between owners and employees
- Between buyers and sellers
- Between service providers and customers
- Between sales persons and prospects
Business communication includes oral and written forms of communications:
- Oral Communication – meetings, interviews, speeches, telephone calls, video conferences, and webinars
- Written Communication – agendas, reports, manuals, memos, emails, website content, formal letters, articles, and blogs
Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Communication
Bachelor’s level programs in business communications are typically structured in one of two ways:
- Bachelor of Arts/Science in Communication with a concentration in business communication
- Bachelor of Arts/Science in Business Communication
These programs allow students to explore fundamental business principles and the latest communication strategies and techniques. These cross-disciplinary degree programs allow students to learn how to:
- Use relevant and emerging technology in business communication
- Enhance interpersonal and group communication
- Apply creative and innovative thinking when solving real-world problems
- Effectively negotiate and influence others
Core coursework in a bachelor’s degree in business communication often includes:
- Introduction to mass communication
- Introduction to management and leadership
- Interpersonal communication
- Business law
- Negotiation and persuasion
- Principles of public relations
A number of institutions also allow students of bachelor’s degrees in business communication to focus their undergraduate degree on a specific area within this field of study, such as:
- Emerging media
- Health communication
- Human resource management
- Management and organizational communication
- Marketing communication
- Public relations
Most undergraduate degrees in business communication culminate in an internship, thus allowing students to gain valuable, real-world experience.
Master’s Degrees in Business Communications
Professionals in business communications who want to advance their career and achieve leadership positions in a corporate environment often choose to complete a master’s degree in business communications.
Admission into these programs requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and, often times, a minimum undergraduate GPA, admissions essay, professional statement, references, and GRE scores.
Depending on the institution, the structure of these graduate programs may vary:
- Master of Arts in Business Communication
- Master of Arts in Professional and Business Communication
- Master of Arts in Business Communication Management
- Master of Arts in Corporate Communications
- Master of Arts in Corporate Communication and Public Relations
- Master of Arts in Managerial Communications
A number of institutions also offer business communication graduate certificates and/or dual programs, such as the Master of Communication Studies/Master of Business Administration.
Like their undergraduate counterparts, master’s degrees in business communications allow students to focus their degree program on a specific area, such as:
- Leadership and influence
- Project management
- International communication
The core coursework of a master’s degree in business communications includes both business foundation and professional development classes, such as:
- Strategic business writing
- Visual communication
- Corporate and persuasive discourse
- Legal and ethical issues for professional communicators
- Fundamentals of accounting/economic analysis/project management
A master’s degree in business communication typically ends in a capstone experience, which may include research projects, internships, and creative project development, among others.
Business Communications Resources
- The Association for Business Communication (ABC)
- International Association of Business Communicators
- National Communication Association
- International Communication Association
- American Communication Association