Strategic Communication: Defining the Field and its Contribution to Research and Practice

Ansgar Zerfass, Dejan Verčič, Howard Nothhaft, Kelly Page Werder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (SciVal)


This article draws on a decade of research in strategic communication and especially on the contributions in this special issue to propose a new and more comprehensive definition of strategic communication. We argue that strategic communication encompasses all communication that is substantial for the survival and sustained success of an entity. Specifically, strategic communication is the purposeful use of communication by an entity to engage in conversations of strategic significance to its goals. Entity includes all kind of organizations (e.g., corporations, governments, or nonprofits), as well as social movements and known individuals in the public sphere. Communication can play a distinctive role for the formulation, revision, presentation, execution, implementation, and operationalization of strategies. While there are many ways to investigate these research objects, strategic communication as a discipline takes the perspective of the focal organization/entity and its calculus to achieve specific goals by means of communication under conditions of limited resources and uncertainty. The article takes a critical look at the current state of the field and outlines several requirements that will help scholars and practitioners alike to build a unique body of knowledge in strategic communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-505
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 8

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Communication Studies


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