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The Importance of Strategic Communication Skills in the Digital Age

Author and speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.” Most often we only consider communication within the scope of our personal relationships. However, communication plays a major role in the business world as well. Skillfully communicating can work miracles externally with your customers, as well as internally with your employees. 

Think about it: Are you more likely to respond positively to a daily staff meeting where your boss talks at you…or a concise, eye-catching e-newsletter sent out once a week with all the need-to-know nuggets in one place? 

The reality is that strategic communication marks the difference between a manager and a true leader

Today, leaders face unique challenges in making sure they are prepared to guide companies through an ever-changing landscape. Our fast-paced digital world requires constant adapting from organizational leaders—the area of communications is a prime example.  

What Is Strategic Communication? 

First, let’s step back a moment and define what it means to have strategic communication skills. 

As you know, communication is the backbone of any company or project. It’s what keeps things moving internally and keeps you connected to an audience.

But strategic communications require more than being clear in an email or engaging on a phone call. It involves the skills to purposefully communicate in order to achieve your organization’s mission. This means you have an understanding of goals to be achieved, know the platforms/media to be used, and know how to measure effectiveness and this is all put to work in a strategic communications plan.

What Does a Strategic Communications Plan Entail?

Similar to how a business plan acts as a roadmap for how your organization will reach its goals, a strategic communications plan maps out your organization’s communications efforts. It serves as the foundation for all your communications and marketing. 

A developed plan will identify your main communications goals, determine your audience, and outline a framework for implementation. 

What is Strategic Communication in the Digital Era?

The internet has been a part of any relevant strategic communications plan for a long time now, but its role and importance continues to evolve. More than ever, a “traditional approach” is no longer an acceptable strategy.

Technology permeates all aspects of our lives—from how we take in information to how we shop to our entertainment. That means that no matter the industry you’re in, it’s critical to recognize the fundamental shifts in communication caused by the digital age. For example, the general audience messaging approach is now a no-go. Instead, it’s all about user-centric communication since users have control over everything from the topics they want to hear/see and the platforms in which they consume content.  

This impact can be perceived internally as well with how employees receive messages. Digital strategic communication examples taking place within companies include:

  • Adopting people-centric social intranet software—an internal version of Facebook or LinkedIn
  • Leveraging collaborative digital workspaces to foster a more engaging dialogue (as opposed to lengthy emails)
  • Speaking of emails…making the switch to an internal communication system (like Slack, Google Chat, Discord, etc.) to help free up inboxes and make sure important messages aren’t lost in the shuffle 

Why Organizational Leaders Need to Embrace Strategic Communications

The digital age brought a slew of tools that improve how we conduct business. But it also brought noise that can keep people from sending or receiving messages effectively. It is up to leaders to acquire strategic communication skills to combat the unavoidable distraction. 

Some of these key skills include:

  • Clear and concise writing ability
  • Acting proactively rather than reactively
  • Strong interpersonal skills (active listening, empathy, managing conflict, etc.)
  • Adaptability 

By developing these tools, you are able to connect more strongly with your audience, improve company culture, and achieve your organization’s goals. 

To develop the communications skills needed to lead your organization, learn more about our online Master of Communications program.