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Giving Students the Skills and Insights They Need to Thrive
in Today’s Digital Business Environment
The essential skills of writing, listening, collaborating, and public speaking are as important as
ever, but they’re not enough to succeed in today’s business world. As business communication
continues to get rocked by waves of innovation—first digital media, then social media, now
mobile communication, and watch out for the upcoming invasion of chatbots—the nature of
communication is changing. And the changes go far deeper than the tools themselves.

In this exciting but complex new world, no other textbook can match the depth and range of
coverage offered by Business Communication Today.

ChaPter 1 Professional communication in a Digital, social, Mobile World 15

the soCial CommuniCation model

The basic model presented in Figure 1.5 illustrates how a single idea moves from one
sender to one receiver. In a larger sense, it also helps represent the traditional nature
of much business communication, which was primarily defined by a publishing or
broadcasting mindset. For external communication, a company issued carefully
scripted messages to a mass audience that didn’t have many options for responding to
those messages or initiating messages of their own. Customers and other interested
parties had few ways to connect with one another to ask questions, share information,
or offer support. Internal communication tended to follow the same “we talk, you
listen” model, with upper managers issuing directives to lower-level supervisors and
employees.

In recent years, however, a variety of technologies have enabled and inspired a new
approach to business communication. In contrast to the publishing mindset, this
social communication model is interactive, conversational, and usually open to all who
wish to participate. Audience members are no longer passive recipients of messages but
active participants in a conversation. Social media have given customers and other stake-
holders a voice they did not have in the past. And businesses are listening to that voice. In
fact, one of the most common uses of social media among U.S. businesses is monitoring
online discussions about a company and its brands.19

Instead of transmitting a fixed message, a sender in a social media environment initi-
ates a conversation by asking a question or sharing valuable information. Information
shared this way is often revised and reshaped by the web of participants as they forward
it and comment on it. People can add to it or take pieces from it, depending on their needs
and interests. Figure 1.7 lists some of the significant differences between the traditional
and social models of business communication.

The social communication model offers many advantages, but it has a number of
disadvantages as well. Potential problems include information overload, a lower level

The conversational and inter-
active social communication
model is revolutionizing business
communication.

The social communication model
can increase the speed of com-
munication, reduce costs, improve
access to expertise, and boost
employee satisfaction.

For all their advantages, social
media tools also present a number
of communication challenges.

Figure 1.7 The Social Communication Model
The social communication model differs from conventional communication strategies and practices in a
number of significant ways. You’re probably already an accomplished user of many new-media tools, and this
experience will help you on the job.

Tendencies
Publication, broadcast

Lecture
Intrusion

Unidirectinal
One to many; mass audience

Control
Low message frequency

Few channels
Information hoarding

Static
Hierarchical
Structured

Isolated
Planned
Resistive

Conventional Promotion:
“We Talk, You Listen”

The Social Model:
“Let’s Have a Conversation”

Tendencies
Converstion
Discussion
Permission

Bidirectional, multidirectional
One to one; many to many

Influence
High message frequency

Many channels
Information sharing

Dynamic
Egalitarian
Amorphous

Collaborative
Reactive

Responsive

M01B_BOVE2186_14_SE_C01.indd 15 9/21/16 12:56 PM

Tools, Techniques, and Insights for
Communicating Successfully in a
Mobile, Digital, Social World 

CHAPTER 7 Digital Media 183

aggregating the knowledge of groups ranging from individual departments to the
public at large.

●● Blogging and microblogging. The ability to update content quickly and easily makes
blogs and microblogs (such as Twitter) a natural medium when communicators want
to get messages out in a hurry.

●● Online video. Digital and online video have transformed what used to be a fairly
specialized tool into a mainstream business communication medium.

The first four of these—email, messaging, web content, and podcasting—are cov-
ered in this chapter. Digital media with a strong social element, from social networks to
microblogs, are addressed in Chapter 8. Online video, along with other visual media, is
covered in Chapter 9.

Note that the lines between these media often get blurred as systems expand their
capabilities or people use them in new ways. Moreover, the mobile variants of all these
technologies add another layer of challenges and opportunities for business communica-
tors. For example, the ability to scan coded labels such as barcodes or the similar Quick
Response (QR) codes attached to printed materials, products, or store windows (or the
ability to pick up radio signals from near-field communication tags) gives smartphone
users a way to get more information—from companies themselves and from other con-
sumers providing reviews on social websites.

Most of your business communication is likely to be via digital means, but don’t over-
look the benefits of printed messages. (For more on formatting printed letters and memos,
see Chapter 6 and Appendix A.) Here are several situations in which you should consider
using a printed message rather than digital alternatives:

●● When you want to make a formal impression. For special messages, such as sending
congratulations or condolences, the formality of printed documents usually makes
them a much better choice than digital messages.

●● When you are legally required to provide information in printed form. Business con-
tracts and government regulations sometimes require that information be provided
on paper.

●● When you want to stand out from the flood of digital
messages. If your audience’s computers are overflowing
with Twitter updates, email messages, and messaging
notifications, sometimes a printed message can stand out
enough to get noticed.

●● When you need a permanent, unchangeable, or secure
record. Letters and memos are reliable. Once printed, they
can’t be erased with a single keystroke or surreptitiously
modified the way some digital messages can be. Printed
documents also require more effort to copy and forward.

COMPOSITIONAL MODES FOR DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA

As you practice using various media and channels in this course, it’s best to focus on the
fundamentals of planning, writing, and completing messages, rather than on the specific
details of any one medium or system.2 Fortunately, the basic communication skills required
usually transfer from one system to another. You can succeed with written communication
in virtually all digital media by using one of nine compositional modes:

●● Conversations. Messaging is a great example of a written medium that mimics spoken
conversation. And just as you wouldn’t read a report to someone sitting in your office,
you wouldn’t use conversational modes to exchange large volumes of information or
to communicate with more than a few people at once.

●● Comments and critiques. One of the most powerful aspects of social media is the
opportunity for interested parties to express opinions and provide feedback, whether
by leaving comments on a blog post or reviewing products on an e-commerce site.
Sharing helpful tips and insightful commentary is also a great way to build your

Even with the widespread use of
digital media, printed memos and
letters still play an important role
in business communication.

Communicating successfully with
digital media requires a wide
range of writing approaches.

These tips will help you make the best choice in various business
situations. Go to real-timeupdates.com/bct14 and select Learn
More in the Students section.

REAL-TIME UPDATES

LEARN MORE BY READING THIS ARTICLE

Should you email, text, or pick up the
phone?

M07B_BOVE2186_14_SE_C07.indd 183 9/20/16 6:26 PM

ChaPter 16 Developing Presentations in a social Media environment 477

incorporating technology
in Your presentation
Like much of the rest of business communication, presentations can be high-tech affairs
in many companies. Two aspects you will most likely encounter on the job are the back-
channel and online presentations.

emBraCing the BaCkChannel

Many business presentations these days involve more than just the spoken conversation
between the speaker and his or her audience. Using Twitter and other digital media, audi-
ence members often carry on their own parallel communication during a presentation via
the backchannel, which the presentation expert Cliff Atkinson defines as “a line of com-
munication created by people in an audience to connect with others inside or outside the
room, with or without the knowledge of the speaker.”29 Chances are you’ve participated
in an informal backchannel already, such as when texting with your classmates or live-
blogging during a lecture.

The backchannel presents both risks and rewards for business presenters. On the
negative side, for example, listeners can research your claims the instant you make them
and spread the word quickly if they think your information is shaky. The backchannel
also gives contrary audience members more leverage, which can cause presentations to
spin out of control. On the plus side, listeners who are excited about your message can
build support for it, expand on it, and spread it to a much larger audience in a matter of
seconds. You can also get valuable feedback during and after presentations.30

By embracing the backchannel, rather than trying to fight it or ignore it, presenters
can use this powerful force to their advantage. Follow these tips to make the backchannel
work for you:31

●● Integrate social media into the presentation process. For example, you can create a
website for the presentation so that people can access relevant resources during or
after the presentation, create a Twitter hashtag that everyone can use when sending
tweets, or display the Twitterstream during Q&A so that everyone can see the ques-
tions and comments on the backchannel.

●● Monitor and ask for feedback. Using a free service such as TweetDeck to organize
tweets by hashtag and other variables, you can monitor comments from the audience.
To avoid trying to monitor the backchannel while speaking, you can schedule “Twitter
breaks,” during which you review comments and respond as needed.

●● Review comments to improve your presentation. After a presentation is over, review
comments on audience members’ Twitter accounts and blogs to see which parts con-
fused them, which parts excited them, and which parts seemed to have little effect
(based on few or no comments).

●● Automatically tweet key points from your presentation while you speak. Add-ons
for presentation software can send out prewritten tweets as you show specific slides
during a presentation. By making your key points readily available, you make it easy
for listeners to retweet and comment on your presentation.

●● Establish expectations with the audience. Explain that you welcome audience
participation but that to ensure a positive experience for everyone, comments should
be civil, relevant, and productive.

giving PreSentationS online

Online presentations offer many benefits, including the opportunity to communicate
with a geographically dispersed audience at a fraction of the cost of travel and the
ability for a project team or an entire organization to meet at a moment’s notice.
However, this format also presents some challenges for the presenter, thanks to that

4 learning oBjeCtiveExplain the growing
importance of the backchannel in
presentations, and list six steps for
giving effective presentations online.

Twitter and other social media
are dramatically changing busi-
ness presentations by making it
easy for all audience members to
participate in the backchannel.

Resist the urge to ignore or fight
the backchannel; instead, learn
how to use it to your advantage.

Online presentations give you a
way to reach more people in less
time, but they require special
preparation and skills.

moBile app

SlideShark lets you present and
share PowerPoint slides with mobile
and PC users.

M16B_BOVE2186_14_SE_C16.indd 477 9/7/16 2:19 PM

CHAPTER 9 Visual Media 251

Producing Business Videos
No matter what career path you pursue, chances are you’ll have the need or opportunity
to produce (or star in) a business video. For videos that require the highest production
quality, companies usually hire specialists with the necessary skills and equipment. For
most routine needs, however, any business communicator with modest equipment and a
few basic skills can create effective videos.

The three-step process adapts easily to video; professionals refer to the three steps as
preproduction, production, and postproduction (see Figure 9.15). You can refer to one of
the many books available on basic video production techniques for more detail, but here
are the key points to consider in all three steps. (A note on terminology: digital video-
graphy has inherited a number of terms from film that don’t make strict technical sense
but are in common use anyway, including footage to indicate any amount of recorded
video and filming to indicate video recording.)

STEP 1: PREPRODUCTION

When you’re recording speeches, seminars, and other events, planning is crucial because
you have only one opportunity to get the footage you need. And even when you have the
flexibility to retake footage, thoughtful planning will save time and money and lead to bet-
ter-looking results. For any video, be sure to think through the following seven elements:

●● Purpose and scope. With every communication effort, of course, it’s essential to iden-
tify the purpose of your message and define the scope of what you will address before

6 LEARNING OBJECTIVEIdentify the most important
considerations in the preproduction,
production, and postproduction
stages of producing basic business
videos.

The process of creating videos is
divided into preproduction, pro-
duction, and postproduction.

Figure 9.15 Creating Effective Business Videos
By following a methodical process in the preproduction, production, and postproduction stages, any business communicator with even basic
equipment can create effective videos.

M09_BOVE2186_14_SE_C09.indd 251 9/20/16 6:31 PM

ChaPter 8 social Media 217

adaPting the three-steP ProCess for sUCCessfUl
Blogging

The three-step writing process is easy to adapt to blogging. The planning step is particularly
important if you’re considering starting a blog because you’re planning an entire commu-
nication channel, not just a single message. Pay close attention to your audience, your pur-
pose, and your scope.

●● Audience. Except with team blogs and other efforts that have an obvious and well-
defined audience, defining the target audience for a blog can be challenging. You
want an audience that is large enough to justify the time you’ll be investing but nar-
row enough that you can provide a clear focus. For instance, if you work for a firm
that develops computer games, would you focus your blog on “hardcore” players, the
types who spend thousands of dollars on super-fast PCs optimized for video games,
or would you broaden the reach to include all video gamers? The decision often comes
down to business strategy.

●● Purpose. A business blog needs to have a business-related purpose that is impor-
tant to your company and to your chosen audience. Moreover, the purpose has
to “have legs”—that is, it needs to be something that can drive the blog’s content
for months or years—rather than focus on a single event or an issue of only tem-
porary interest. For instance, if you’re a technical expert, you might create a blog
to give the audience tips and techniques for using your company’s products more
effectively—a never-ending subject that’s important to both you and your audience.

Before you launch a blog, make
sure you have a clear understand-
ing of your target audience, the
purpose of your blog, and the
scope of subjects you plan to
cover.

Figure 8.2 Business Applications of Blogging
This Xerox blog illustrates the content, writing style, and features that make an effective, reader-friendly company blog.
Source: Courtesy of Xerox Corporation.

Like many large corporations, Xerox has a variety
of blogs. This menu give quick access to all of
them.
The search box lets visitors quickly find posts on
topics of interest.
A large photo helps draw readers in.

Readers can subscribe to future posts via email
or RSS newsfeed.

The assignment title is brief and clear, and it incorporates
key terms likely to trigger hits in search engines
(Internet of Everything and energy).

These links provide access to other posts by this
author and other posts tagged with “innovation.”
Social media share buttons make it easy for
readers to share this post with their followers.

The sidebar lists recent posts and recent com-
ments left by readers.

The assignment positions the company as an expert in
an important technology field, without overtly
selling Xerox products and services.

H
er

o
Im

ag
es

/G
et

ty
Im
ag

es

M08_BOVE2186_14_SE_C08.indd 217 9/21/16 1:03 PM

CHAPTER 2 Collaboration, Interpersonal Communication, and Business Etiquette 45

by invitation only). Many intranets have now evolved into social networking systems that
include a variety of communication and collaboration tools, from microblogging to video
clip libraries. For example, the performance troupe Blue Man Group uses a social intranet
to help its 500 employees plan, stage, and promote shows all over the world.30

Social Networks and Virtual Communities
Social networking technologies are redefining teamwork and team communication by
helping erase the constraints of geographic and organization boundaries. Some companies
use social networks to form virtual communities or communities of practice that link
employees with similar professional interests throughout the company and sometimes
with customers and suppliers as well.

Social networks foster collaboration by identifying and connecting the best people
to work on each problem or project, no matter where they are around the world or what
their official roles are in the organization. Such communities are similar to teams in many
respects, but one major difference is in the responsibility for accumulating organizational
knowledge over the long term, beyond the duration of any specific project. For example,
the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has a number of permanent product-safety commu-
nities that provide specialized advice on drug safety issues to researchers throughout the
organization.31

Social networking can also help a company maintain a sense of community even as
it grows beyond the size that normally permits extensive daily interaction. At the online
retailer Zappos, fostering a supportive work environment is the company’s top priority.
To encourage the sense of community among its expanding workforce, Zappos uses social
networking tools to track employee connections and encourage workers to reach out and
build relationships.32

Collaboration via Mobile Devices
Mobile devices add another layer of options for collaborative writing and other commu-
nication projects, particularly when used with cloud computing. Today’s mobile systems
can do virtually everything that fixed-web collaboration systems can do, from writing on
virtual whiteboards to sharing photos, videos, and other multimedia files.33 Mobility lets
workers participate in online brainstorming sessions, seminars, and other formal or infor-
mal events from wherever they happen to be at the time (see Figure 2.3). This flexibility can

A community of practice links
professionals with similar job
interests; a key benefit is accumu-
lating long-term organizational
knowledge.

Internal social networks help
companies assemble the best
resources for a given task, regard-
less of where the employees are
located.

Collaboration apps for mobile
devices support nearly all the
features of computer-based
platforms.

Figure 2.3 Collaboration on Mobile Devices
Mobile connectivity is transforming collaboration activities, helping teams and work groups stay connected
no matter where their work takes them. For example, this team was able to discuss and edit a press release
using their tablets in different locations.

C
o
ur

te
sy

o
f C

af
e

R
ia

M02_BOVE2186_14_SE_C02.indd 45 9/20/16 6:17 PM

A01_BOVE5341_14_GE_FM.indd 2 6/7/17 4:43 PM

The Unique Demands
of Mobile Business

Communication

Intriguing Glimpses
into the Future of
Business Communication 

16 Part 1 Understanding the Foundations of business communication

of engagement with tasks and other people, fragmented attention, information secu-
rity risks, reduced productivity, and the difficulty of maintaining a healthy boundary
between personal and professional lives.20 All business professionals and managers
need to choose and use digital tools wisely to control the flow of information
they receive.

Of course, no company, no matter how enthusiastically it embraces the social com-
munication model, is going to be run as a club in which everyone has a say in every
business matter. Instead, a hybrid approach is emerging in which some communications
(such as strategic plans and policy documents) follow the traditional approach, whereas
others (such as project management updates and customer support messages) follow the
social model.

You can learn more about business uses of social media in Chapter 8.

the mobile Revolution
As much of a game changer as social media have been, some experts predict that mobile
communication will change the nature of business and business communication even
more. The venture capitalist Joe Schoendorf says that “mobile is the most disruptive
technology that I have seen in 48 years in Silicon Valley.”21 The researcher Maribel Lopez
calls mobile “the biggest technology shift since the Internet.”22

Companies recognize the value of integrating mobile technology, from communica-
tion platforms to banking to retail. Mobile apps and communication systems can boost
employee productivity, help companies form closer relationships with customers and busi-
ness partners, and spur innovation in products and services (see Figure 1.8). Given the
advantages and the rising expectations of employees and customers, firms on the leading
edge of the mobile revolution are working to integrate mobile technology throughout
their organizations.23

This section offers a high-level view of the mobile revolution, and you’ll see coverage
of specific topics integrated throughout the book—everything from collaborative writing
and research to presentations and job search strategies.

4 leaRninG oBJeCtiVeOutline the challenges
and opportunities of mobile
communication in business.

Figure 1.8 Mobile Communication Tools
Mobile technologies offer multiple ways to improve communication and other key business processes. For
example, note-taking apps such as Note Taker HD offer an easy and unobtrusive way to take notes during
meetings, site visits, and other business functions.

S
o
ft
w

ar
e

G
ar

d
en

M01B_BOVE2186_14_SE_C01.indd 16 9/21/16 12:56 PM

ChaPter 1 Professional communication in a Digital, social, Mobile World 17

the rise of moBile as a CommuniCation Platform

Whether it’s emailing, social networking, watching videos, or doing research, the percent-
age of communication and media consumption performed on mobile devices continues
to grow. For millions of people around the world, a mobile device is their primary way, if
not their only way, to access the Internet. Globally, more than 80 percent of Internet users
access the web with a mobile device at least some of the time.24

Mobile has become the primary communication tool for many business professionals,
including a majority of executives under age 40.25 Email and web browsing rank first and
second in terms of the most common nonvoice uses of smartphones, and more email mes-
sages are now opened on mobile devices than on PCs.26 Roughly half of U.S. consumers
use a mobile device exclusively for their online search needs, and many online activities
that eventually migrate to a PC screen start out on a mobile screen.27 For many people,
the fact that a smartphone can make phone calls is practically a secondary consideration;
data traffic from mobile devices far outstrips voice traffic.28

Moreover, mobile phones—particularly smartphones—have become intensely per-
sonal devices in ways that PCs never did. For many users, the connection is so close they
feel a sense of panic when they don’t have frequent access
to their phones.29 When people are closely attached to their
phones, day and night, they are more closely tied to all the
information sources, conversations, and networks that those
phones can connect to. As a result, mobile connectivity can
start to resemble a continuous stream of conversations that
never quite end, which influences the way businesses need
to interact with their stakeholders. If wearable technologies
become mainstream devices, they will contribute even more
to this shift in behaviors (see Figure 1.9).

The parallels between social media and mobile commu-
nication are striking: Both sets of technologies change the nature of communication, alter
the relationships between senders and receivers, create opportunities as well as challenges,
and force business professionals to hone new skills. In fact, much of the rise in social com-
munication can be attributed to the connectivity made possible by mobile devices. Com-
panies that work to understand and embrace mobile, both internally and externally, stand
the best chance of capitalizing on this monumental shift in the way people communicate.

hoW moBile teChnologies are Changing Business
CommuniCation

The rise of mobile communication has some obvious …

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