From pop-up ads to political pundits and paid posts, there are plenty of distractions in today’s media. It can be tough for any company’s message to gain traction amidst the noise.
But with an expert in strategic communications on the team, enterprises can map out a plan to capture attention and successfully promote products, advance causes and build brands.
It All Starts With a Master Plan
Businesses and nonprofits of all kinds rely on strategic communications — which builds on fields including advertising, journalism, marketing, politics and public relations — to convey consistent messages to targeted audiences.
Working with executives or boards, strategic communications professionals write core messages, talking points, speeches and scripts. They may also manage areas like media relations, direct marketing, website content, social media and crisis communications.
Organizations with broad, scalable master plans for their strategic communications are prepared to stay on message across channels and, ultimately, achieve specific business goals, said April Matson, a Seattle-based freelance communications professional who teaches in the Certificate in Strategic Communications & Public Relations.
“Your master plan is like a blueprint that guides you,” said Matson, who previously led public relations for Chihuly Garden & Glass. Knowing how to communicate the values and priorities of your enterprise means you’re always ready with a proactive message, Matson added.
Customers Want Content, Companies Need Communicators
The new normal of around-the-clock media consumption is good news for job-seeking communication strategists, who are often hired for communication director or public relations manager roles.
Nationally, public relations jobs are expected to grow 7 percent through 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The continued rise of content will likely drive many of those roles, Matson said, as more enterprises seek to connect with audiences through compelling editorial or social experiences.
There’s an even sunnier forecast — 16 percent growth — in the greater Seattle area, where there’s increased hiring at startups and some of the world’s biggest brands, including Amazon, Microsoft and the University of Washington.
How to Move Into Strategic Communications
People in strategic communications often have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like public relations, communications or journalism. Because strategists have to know how to keep up with a 24/7 communications cycle, hands-on experience is essential, Matson said. Working in corporate communications — at a PR agency or volunteering for a nonprofit’s communication project, for example — can offer learning experiences in this fast-paced arena.
Whether you’re new to the field or interested in strengthening your skills, Matson said anyone can gain an edge in the job market with the Certificate in Strategic Communications & Public Relations, which offers insight into master planning and current business trends, such as content strategy.
“It doesn't matter if you're a politician or you're in tourism, art or tech — the fundamentals of creating a strategic communication plan are the same,” Matson said. “In the certificate program, you’ll get a strong grasp of a communications approach you can apply to anything.”