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What is a Degree in Strategic Communications?

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What is Strategic Communication?

Communication is strategic when it is completely consistent with a corporation’s mission, vision, values and is able to enhance the strategic positioning and competitiveness of the organization. The objective is to communicate a concept, a process, or data that satisfies a long-term strategic goal. It conveys a deliberate message(s) through the most suitable media to the designated audience(s) at the appropriate time to contribute to and achieve the desired effect.

Strategic communication refers to the conveyance of company policies and procedures to employees. Equally important to the internal communication is the external communication used to enhance a company’s strategic positioning and competitiveness between competitors. Therefore, the purpose of strategic communication is to build and protect corporate reputations, promote organizational values, and communicate with employees.

An article published in the International Journal for Strategic Communication in 2007, defined the term as “the purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulfill its mission”. The purposeful use of communication makes it “strategic”. The authors elaborate that: “Six relevant disciplines are involved in the development, implementation, and assessment of communications by organizations: management, marketing, public relations, technical communication, political communication, and information/social marketing campaigns.” Other academics believe this type of communication transcends the message. Instead, it is an interdisciplinary field encompassing psychology, sociology, philosophy, and political science.

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Education

There are college programs that approach the subject as interdisciplinary. The coursework studies psychology, statistics, law, research, and other disciplines used to build a strong foundation for effective communication for any company or organization. The curriculum strives to develop and enhance the skills you need to become an effective strategic communicator.

These are:

  • complex problem solving
  • oral, visual, and written communication
  • research and analytic techniques
  • goal setting and evaluation methods
  • creative thinking
  • cultural and social awareness

A  Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communication offers a blend of human and professional communication theory and skills so students learn to communicate appropriately and effectively in interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, and mediated settings. The skills taught will enable students to create print, presentations, and digital media messages. Typical coursework covers the theory and practice of communication needed to exercise organizational leadership. Students learn through academic work, case studies, and hands-on experience, creating messages across media platforms. These platforms involve the production of communication campaigns and materials. This leads to their dissemination through traditional, digital, internet, social, and emerging media.

There are also Bachelor of Science degrees in this discipline. Some schools offer both. The science degree has similar courses as the arts program. Here are a few examples of courses in the major:

  • Strategic Communications Management– The practice and techniques of public relations as a management function in business, industry, agriculture, government, education and other fields.
  • Persuasive Writing for Strategic Communicators– An examination of the language of persuasive communication and the techniques of persuasive message strategy. Includes the study of the application of persuasive writing for traditional media and emerging digital media.
  • Advertising Media and Markets– Introduction to the strategic use of media. Major principles of media planning and buying, audience measurement, media research, new media technology, and market segmentation.
  • Research Methods– Provides an overview of strategic communication research, with an emphasis on its application to the development and evaluation of the strategic communication message. Examines the procedures for conducting a research project. This involves the student’s participation in the research planning process, the gathering of primary data, and the analysis and presentation of results.

Either degree will provide the education to create, execute, and evaluate communication strategies. All of which will make you a valuable asset for businesses, corporations, government, and nonprofit organizations. Positions may include:

  • Advertising and/or Promotions Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist or Manager
  • Fundraising Manager
  • Media Relations or Communications Worker
  • Marketing or Public Relations Associate

Employment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have the occupation of the strategic communicator. From the list above, the BLS does provide data for the position of Public Relations Specialist. They define the job as one who creates and maintains a favorable public image for the organization they represent. She/he crafts media releases and develops social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. These job functions parallel many of the duties required in strategic communications.

The BLS reported in May 2017 that the median salary for PR Specialists was $59,300 with a Bachelor’s degree. The job outlook through 2026 is 9% growth/employment change or 22,900 jobs.

The employment site Glassdoor reported (January 2018) the median salary for strategic communications at $52,836. The submission of 3,317 salaries in the United States created this average.

Another respected employment site, Indeed, states that the average salary for “strategic communications” ranges from approximately $43,194 per year for Communications Officer to $129,057 per year for Vice President. Their salary information comes from 224,663 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

 

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