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What Is a Communication Strategy?

Guest Post by Erin Feldman. Erin is a marketing communications specialist and copywriter at Write Right.

A communication strategy does not a marketing strategy make. A communication strategy is complementary and subservient to the marketing one. It takes its cues from the marketing strategy, which, in turn, takes its direction from the business strategy.

To put it another way: the business strategy is a general. It provides the desired outcome, typically something having to do with dollars and cents and a bottom line. The marketing strategy is the general’s second-in-command. It serves the general’s goals by outlining strategies that prompt people to take actions in accordance with those goals, such as purchasing a product, signing up for a webinar, or donating to a certain cause. It brings together all the other strategies, one of which is communications.

The communication strategy is not the second-in-command; it answers to the marketing strategy. The marketing strategy focuses on the bigger picture, and the communication strategy focuses on some of the smaller details necessary to creating that picture. Because of that, the communication strategy is closely tied to tactics. While the strategy can’t be confused with or exchanged for tactics, its governance is over those things. It is much closer to the trenches than the marketing or business strategies are.

What elements comprise a communication strategy?

  • The strategy typically involves written communication although the strategy is becoming much broader.
  • While the communication strategy may not be wholly responsible for those components, it does have to work in tandem with other strategies; that is, it can’t be siloed from other types of storytelling and communication.
Soldiers - Communication Strategy

In business, content producers are ‘soldiers’ completing communications tasks to facilitate the overall marketing and business strategies.

Perhaps it’s best to return to the military metaphor. If the general has decided victory is necessary in a certain country, the marketing strategy would pinpoint the locations necessary to achieving that victory. The communication strategy would focus on the smaller strategies required to obtain those locations and provide direction to the soldiers – the copywriters, videographers, graphic artists, podcasters, et cetera – assigned with taking those locations.

A communication strategy, then, is one component of the marketing strategy. It focuses on the smaller strategies, often the written ones, that bring about success for the larger ones. Its purpose is simple: it supports the marketing strategy and, by association, the business strategy.

Got your communications strategy down? Don’t forget to add sauce…

Images: RuiPereira, DVIDSHUB (Creative Commons)

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