What is Strategic Communications?
Communication is an important aspect of our lives. It affects the way we relate to one another and it’s the backbone of any large company, project, or supply line. Being able to improve communications using data and analysis can be an invaluable skill; one which falls under the purview of strategic communications.
While studying communications can teach you a variety of universalized skills and theories, studying strategic communications is somewhat more focused. Graduates learn to apply many of the same human communication theories, but with an added emphasis on professional communication theory — like strategic brand communication.
What is Strategic Brand Communication?
Strategic brand communication is about building a data-oriented, highly purposeful style of communication between stakeholders. Because even brand identity is a matter of communication. It often prompts you to ask questions like, “Is your brand formal, friendly, quirky?” The way you communicate informs others about how you view the world, and how you think. Each “story” a brand tells us helps establish our expectations, which makes strategic brand communication a necessity for any business that wants a consistent, effective, “on-brand” message.
However, building a brand’s communication strategy requires you to understand how smaller details fit into the big picture. It starts with an ability to better understand target audiences, and then aligns your style of communication along with your organizational goals. It’s also an ongoing process, which involves incorporating and analyzing feedback, creating a more productive two-way interactive conversation rather than a monologue.
With that in mind, a better understanding of strategic brand communication can help you improve virtually any aspect of branded communications: digital media, PR, marketing, advertising, and more. Strategic communication solutions can go further than strategic brand communication, though. As we’ll explore below, applying the theories of strategic communication can help you develop more effective messaging techniques and strategies for driving branded messaging across any number of channels.
What Students Learn with a Strategic Communications Degree
Businesses need to communicate effectively with people at different levels. Not only do they need to focus on outward communication through marketing channels, but they also need to hone their internal communication between employees, departments, etc. Running any complex project or organization requires an enormous amount of cooperation, and strategic business communications can be applied to improve and refine those kinds of processes.
Students learn to apply research to practice for guiding communication campaigns and messaging, and developing a multiplatform messaging plan. That includes practical skills like data analysis, visualization, and multimedia design. It’s also necessary to learn to adapt communication needs to effectively speak to a diverse audience, to apply persuasive techniques, and to develop a unique brand voice that can be used in broadcast, digital media, print, and others.
With the help of understanding theories of strategic communication, a strategic communications degree can prepare graduates to develop research-based communication messaging strategies, create content that helps meet well-defined objectives, and teach many of the other skills obtained with a less-specialized communications degree.
Some of the courses you might take with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications might include:
- ENG 101 Effective College English II
- COM 103 Public Speaking
- COM 300 Interpersonal Communication
- COM 394 Strategic Writing
- COM 402 Communication Technologies
- COM 442 Communication Campaigns
In taking these types of courses, students learn a variety of specialized communication skills, such as allowing them to better interpret market trends and new technologies. However, a strategic communications degree also allows students to develop highly valuable soft-skills; and that makes it a launching point to enter virtually any organization with a marketing or media department, whether corporate, government, or non-profit.
Strategic Business Communications & Career Paths
What students learn by studying strategic communications prepares them for leadership positions in marketing, advertising, public relations, and corporate communications. These offer the basics of leadership and management skills, which is part of the reason why the most common job titles for a strategic communications major include the word “manager.”
But outside of those fields, and even before you have built up the experience required for a managerial position, graduates of a strategic communication program learn an enormous range of highly employable, highly transferable skills.
That’s because students learn to refine their analytical abilities against complex problem solving. They improve communication skills and creative thinking. Studying strategic communications requires you to be practiced in a variety of research techniques, to improve your social and cultural awareness, and to make you a more effective, persuasive writer.
Some of the most employable soft skills include interpersonal communication, persuasive ability, strong written/verbal communication, leadership ability, and strategic thinking. And these are exactly the kinds of skills you develop while studying strategic communications.
Example Careers for Strategic Communications Degree
PayScale estimates that the average salary for someone with a BA in Strategic Communication is $50,663. Notably, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019, the average median wage for all communication occupations was $59,230. That’s roughly 32% higher than the median annual for all occupations. But these figures greatly depend on industry and experience.
The most obvious career choices for a strategic communications degree all pertain to advertising, marketing, public relations, and corporate communications. However, with such a flexible skillset, people who learn about strategic communications can enter into a wide variety of fields. For instance:
PR Specialist – Apply your knowledge of strategic thinking and communication to influence public perceptions in a positive way. As of May 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that Public Relation Specialists have a median salary of $61,150, with higher than average growth in the industry as the need for organizations to maintain their public image continues to grow.
Social Media Marketing Manager – Strategic communications can uniquely prepare graduates for communicating branded messages across digital media. PayScale estimates social media marketing managers have an annual median salary of $52,808, and these kinds of positions can often provide numerous opportunities for creativity and an excellent work-life balance.
Communications Officer – From press releases to social media posts, communications officers are responsible for communicating with a variety of platforms, technologies, and audiences. Learning about integrated strategic communication prepares students to excel in these kinds of positions. Indeed.com estimates an average salary of $43,194, with many opportunities for career growth.
Effective communication, strategic thinking and an ability to find strategic communication solutions can be valuable to virtually any industry. Other career paths might include:
- Research analyst
- Customer service rep
- Social media community manager
- Communication director
- PR / marketing specialist
- Advertising executive
- Online editor
- Event planner
Strategic Communications at National University
National University is a regionally accredited institution that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications. Our flexible 4-week programs offer students a way to quickly finish their degree while acquiring many of the most in-demand and highly employable skills. Graduates learn to develop campaign messaging strategies, create content that fills strategic objectives, apply research to inform your decision making process while building campaigns and messages, and create/develop multi-platform messages.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in the communications field, or want to consider leveling up in a different career path, get in touch with a member of our National University admissions team.
BLS – Communications Occupations
BLS – PR Specialist
Payscale – Social Media Marketing Manager
LinkedIn – Most Desirable Skills
Payscale – BA Strategic Communication Degree