I often say that a career in strategic communication is like being a cat with nine lives. I can think of no other profession that allows such a diversity of career possibilities. And the best part is that you don’t have to settle on one specialization for the duration of your career. Indeed, many strategic communication professionals constantly evolve – one may start as a speechwriter for a committee on Capitol Hill then advance to press secretary for a senator and then transition to a crisis communicator with their own firm.
Diversity in Communication Careers
What is the reason this field allows such a range of options? It’s because no matter what career your choose in strategic communication, the basic foundational skills are the same – strategy, writing, research and theory. From there you can specialize your course of study to focus on what types of strategic communication you are interested in such as environmental, healthcare, consumer or social change communication.
Communication Career Paths
My career path speaks to this diversity of options. I started off in environmental communication and then transitioned to leading national healthcare awareness initiatives and from there worked on social marketing campaigns for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In between, I dabbled in ecotravel tourism by working with resorts in the National Park Service, international communication for the World Bank and advocacy work for nonprofits.
The Need for Strategic Communication Professionals
Reflecting on my more than 20 years of experience in the field, I marvel at the fact that due to a constantly changing landscape and especially due to the rise of digital communication, I still learn new things each and every day. And because of the 24/7 news cycle that exists, the need for strategic communication experts has never been more important. That’s a great testament to the type of career options offered in the field of strategic communication. From public diplomacy expert with the State Department to the director of communications for an NFL team, the possibilities for careers in strategic communication are simply endless.
About the Author
Pallavi Damani Kumar is a full-time professor in American University’s School of Communication and the Division Director for the Public Communication. Prior to teaching full time, Kumar gained more than 20 years experience in the public relations industry having worked as a vice president in Fleishman Hillard's social marketing practice in Washington, DC, a vice president/account supervisor in Ketchum's healthcare practice in New York as well as associate director of international public relations at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia. Pallavi holds a B.A. in CLEG and Public Communication from American University (magna cum laude) and a Master's in Public Relations/Corporate Communications from Georgetown University.
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