Lecture 1. The Basic Principles of Strategic Communication
Good afternoon, friends, and welcome to our short course on communication. Let’s consider the most basic elements of communication to understand how to match our behaviour with the environment we are trying to deliver a message to.

We’ll begin not with the letters, but rather with the significance of our ABC. First of all, we should understand that communication is not an additional activity — it shouldn’t be based on the residual principle. It is a part of our strategic activities. In our daily work, we as managers are bombarded by a million various tasks: organising workshops or conferences, putting on performances, or opening exhibitions. And all these worries consume all our time and energy. We are left with little energy to talk about our performance or exhibition, about the impressions of visitors or experts. Yet, we should be thinking about how and whom we will talk to from the very beginning.

Communication is much like marketing. Marketing managers not only decide the best ways to advertise and sell yoghurt, for example. They tackle strategic issues too. They decide precisely what yoghurt to produce, and whether it should be yoghurt at all. So, from now on let’s regard communication as a very important and strategic process. And as an element at the very heart of planning for any action.

So, what is communication? There are many different types and varieties. But we will look at the main differences. There is internal communication. It refers to messages formulated and distributed inside a group of people or organisations. This is a separate topic for a separate course, so-called corporate communication. We will be practicing external communication. There are many different definitions for this type of communication. I suggest we look at this one: “External communication is a system of measures for offering information, which aims to influence the comprehension, perception, expectations and behaviour of the target audience in accordance with the mission and goals of an organisation or a project.” It is important to note and remember here that the ultimate goal of communication is to influence the behaviour of the target audience. And this is the main difference between communication and just talking or having a chat.

It is extremely important to convince those we are addressing to act in a certain way. But this is the ultimate goal. Before that happens, we should influence the comprehension, perceptions, and expectations of our listeners, so to say. That is, at the first stage we change the way in which people perceive and react to the world (the so-called mindset), and then we move to the practical aspect of the action.

The most striking example is election campaigns. First, the staff of a candidate. For instance, a presidential one creates a certain image of this candidate so that voters perceive him positively. They don’t turn away while hearing about him or her or listening to his or her words. They react to his words or image not just with their mind but emotionally as well. This way, the staff creates a positive mindset.

But all this is done not for the sake that someone should just like another person or someone should trust another person. But all this is done for a practical reason. The ultimate goal of all this mindset building is that at a certain time and certain place people should undertake a certain action: to come to a polling station and vote for this candidate.

For now, it is important to remember the following:

  • Communication is not a complementary or supplementary activity to your main line of work. No. Communication is an activity of strategic importance. It is very much like real marketing.

  • Communication shapes the mindset (perception, understanding, attitudes, expectations and reaction) and aims to influence behaviour.

Goodbye and see you soon! Next time we will talk about the stages of communication.

Share with friends