The phrase “strategic communications” has become an essential aspect of any large organization’s operations over the last few years, but what does strategic communications actually entail? It depends on who you ask.
In an article in Forbes, Marissa Moran Gantman suggests communications professionals should not be intimidated by the term, because “it means a company is thinking about its communications function as an essential factor in achieving its organization-wide goals.“ In other words, a company’s strategic message should consistently communicate what the organization wishes to share in a way that shapes the conversation to achieve desired results and align with the long–term goals.
In an article on the website Simpplr, strategic communications involves ”communicating the best message, through the right channels, measured against well-considered goals. It’s the difference between doing communications stuff, and doing the right communications stuff.” Others point out that focusing on a proactive plan of communicating avoids having to clean up after unclear messaging. Ensuring that your messaging is received as you intended can build trust and improve relationships, while bad messaging can undermine them.
A Strategic Communications Definition Explained
According to Marketing Director, Haseeb Tariq, strategic communications is an in depth process that considers “who you are talking to, why you are talking to them, how and when you will talk to them, what form of communication the content should take and what channels you should use to share it.“
To further detail the process, we can break it down:
- Be consistent in your messaging: Strategic communications involve planning, ongoing efforts and consistent messaging.
- Be precise: Strategic communications are about effectively framing your stories and messages to clearly reflect the purpose of your communication.
- Be targeted: Strategic communications use targeted messaging based on audience research to achieve the desired results.
Consider your delivery: How, when and through what channels will you communicate your message to ensure it is received in the way intended?Strategy Versus Plan
An article on Medium outlines the difference between a communication strategy and plan, deeming both necessary.
“If writing and design are the building blocks, crafting a clear strategy and plan is the foundation of communications,” writes Mynhardt van Pletsen.
Great design, web and writing elements make up individual building blocks of strategic communications. They help support the core message.
Pletsen lists some of the main differences:
- Strategy provides a bird’s eye view, while a communication plan is about execution on the ground. A communication strategy should be drafted with input from senior management while execution should be left to specialists in those areas.
- Strategy provides general direction, while a communication plan is more of a step-by-step guide.
- Strategy answers why and what, while a communication plan addresses how.
- Strategy is overarching and ongoing, but a communication plan is time-bound.
- A communication plan exists in the context of a strategy, while a process is part of a communication plan.
Learning About Strategic Communications
Undergraduate degrees in journalism, marketing and public relations typically cover the basics of strategic communications. A growing number of young professionals in these fields, however, are taking the next step in their careers by pursuing graduate degrees such as the Master of Science in Strategic Communications – General offered by Arkansas State University.
This writing-intensive degree program will enhance your abilities to strategically influence and further an organization’s mission through communication. It is perfect for working professionals who have neither the time nor the resources to pursue an advanced degree at a brick-and-mortar institution.
The program develops critical-thinking, analysis and practical skills, which empower the individual with the ability to formulate and implement solutions that drive results.