What Is A Communication Strategist?

What is a communication strategist? And what can they do for you?

Image description

Val Stilwell, MSCS

The Communication Strategist is an intriguing individual who has created a completely new role for her or himself.  Although invariable among the best writers in the business, the communication strategist has taken an extra step. They've looked hard at the way companies use language and the results they achieve, and they've sought out new ways of making language work better for their clients.  That may involve introducing new forms of communication (migrating paper-based memos to email, for example) or it may mean running poetry workshops in law firms, to improve personal communication skills.

Generally speaking, the communication strategist tends to be involved more in planning than in execution. As a strategist, they need highly developed client-relationship skills (to talk to client companies at the most senior level). Like corporate speechwriters, the communication strategist can command unusually high fees (more in line with the fees paid to management consultants than with mere hacks). Communication strategy always runs to the heart of a company's internal communications and, ultimately, productivity. 

If you find a strategist you like, make sure you check out their references (which should be glowing), and even more crucially, check their figures. The success of a really good strategist should be measurable by the results of their work - in increased sales or increased satisfaction among customers and staff. If their track record adds up, pay them whatever they ask. 

What experience should you look for?

Communication strategy is a relatively new discipline – Kingston University has started a course in Internal Communication Strategy, but otherwise there are no formally recognized qualifications. So for the time being, a communication strategist is likely to come from a background in HR or advertising (on the strategic planning side). They must understand communication objectives; know their target audience; and know how to deliver the message too – though they'll often hand over the project to an editorial manager or language coach once it has the green light. They are acquainted with organizational thinking and may well have experience with change-management projects.

Back To Home Page  About Me