For a strategic communication professional, communication skills go far beyond the basics, and into the ability to do analysis of organization communication, demographic analysis, understand modern communication styles and the ability to craft messaging for a global audience. These skills are all cultivated in a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program, to prepare graduates to take on advanced roles in communication.
Organization Communication Analysis
An organization must first analyze its existing communication methodology to be able to discover areas of improvement and opportunity. Communication professionals evaluate all communication materials, vehicles, stakeholders, targeting and more to determine if outreach is reaching the right audience in the right way. Analysis is useful for all forms of organizational communication, including intra-office communication, government reporting, public relations, client communications and marketing. Communication analysis requires several skills, including:
- The ability to collect data quantitatively and qualitatively
- Knowledge of tools used to evaluate that data
- Understanding of communication theories
Audience Analysis for Communications
In order to ensure that communication tactics reach the correct audience, organizations must have a firm understanding of their target audience and various stakeholders. The U.S. Census is one of the most comprehensive sources of demographic analysis, as it relates to consumers, and includes basic information about populations, including age, gender, religious affiliation, income, and housing arrangements. Communication professionals targeting consumers often use demographic information to construct the audience persona.
Each audience may have a different preference in content topics, language, delivery, timing and frequency. A communications manager might use audience profiles to determine what, when, where, and how the audience may read, watch, and listen to messages, as well as the kinds of arguments that are more likely to convey the message.
Many organizations make the mistake of churning out content without a master plan, according to the Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement. That is why organizations need someone with the ability to build a strategic communication plan from the ground up. Strategic communication starts with a combined understanding of:
- Goals the organizations want to achieve through content
- Who the stakeholders and target audience include
- Avenues through which content will be distributed
- How messaging efficacy will be evaluated
This understanding allows communication professionals to select the communication channels and content (articles, blog posts, social media activity, press releases, and annual reports) that will appeal to the audience. Once the content is delivered, the next step in the plan involves the analysis of the reach of the content, to determine if changes should be made to better achieve the goals of the messaging strategy.
Modern Communication Styles
Technology has changed the way we communicate. If organizations want to reach their target audiences, they must be prepared to use the most effective communication channels to get their messages across to the various stakeholders. For example, one in 14 Americans relies entirely on their smartphones for Internet access, according to the Pew Research Center. That puts more emphasis on mobile-friendly communication in certain markets. Social media has emerged as a new channel through which to reach a respective audience. It is not enough to select one communication style and assume that it will work for all audiences. Part of American University’s online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication includes a course covering social media strategies and tactics. Today’s social media platforms come with built-in analytics tools as well, so organizations are able to measure in real-time and from period to period just how effective their messages are.
Communication professionals working with international audiences must have advanced communication skills to properly address a diverse audience. Arpita Bhawal, head of marketing, branding and communication for PT Marlabs, says the most vital aspect of global communication is simplicity. The easier it is for the audience to read and comprehend, the more likely it is to receive the message appropriately. She stresses the importance of ethical standards in communication and avoiding practices such as informal language and humor because they are not appreciated by all cultures. Ensure each piece of communication is checked for appropriate references to time, measurement and spelling styles.
Online Graduate Programs in Communications
If you are looking for a master’s in communication program that will prepare you for international communications in business, nonprofit, governmental, or academic relations, look for programs that offer curriculum in:
- International communication
- Crisis communication
- Strategic communication
- Communication management
- Social media
- Communication research
American University School of Communication’s online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program offers all of the above, in addition to communication theory and practicum courses.
Learn more about the online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. Call 855-725-7614 to speak to one of our admissions representatives or request more information.