American University’s online Master’s in Strategic Communication Program Director Paula Weissman shares a preview of the program’s Communication Theory course (COMM 735). She discusses the relevance of theory and research for communication professionals.
PAULA WEISSMAN: Welcome to Communication Theory. This course will introduce you to the relevance of theory and research for communication professionals. It is often said that strategic communication is theory- and research-driven. But why?
This is because theory and research work together to help us approach communication problems more effectively. As practitioners, we face a whole host of communication challenges. For example, we might be tasked with representing our organization's standpoint on initiative in media, changing public attitudes about a policy, mobilizing individuals through social media to take some form of collective action, or persuading a target audience to engage in a behavior, like voting for a candidate, beginning a new health practice, or even purchasing a product.
Strategic communication practitioners are more effective in tackling problems that arise in practice when they draw from existing theory and research, which helps us think more strategically about these types of challenges because they shift our focus. Instead of seeing only the specifics of a given case, theories help us think more analytically by highlighting important patterns and relationships that tend to recur across similar cases.
Having the ability to do a thorough review of past research on a specific problem is also an essential skill. Research prevents us from reinventing the wheel or going down a path that has proven ineffective in the past. It frees up valuable resources, and it arms us with the latest intelligence to make sure that we design communication solutions that will really move us forward.
Read more about the course objectives in the Communication Theory course.