FAQ: What Is a Strategic Communications Major? (Plus Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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If you enjoy communicating and want to understand how different interactions and engagements can affect an organization's influence on others, consider studying strategic communications. In this major, you can learn about how various types of businesses communicate to conduct both public outreach and promotional efforts. This program can prepare you for roles in industries like advertising, digital media and fundraising. In this article, we review what a strategic communications major is, skills you can gain from the program and roles you can pursue with this degree.

What is a strategic communications major?

A strategic communications major is an undergraduate area of study that focuses on the ways organizations, groups and individuals interact and engage with one another. Many strategic communications programs closely examine public relations to learn how businesses and nonprofit organizations communicate with the public to influence opinions and respond to certain emergency situations using public outreach efforts.

Depending on the professional direction you plan to move in, some colleges encourage students to select a focus area like public relations or advertising. These areas can expose you to different issues, theories and practices related to the importance of using communication to improve an organization's standing and success.

What do you learn in a strategic communications program?

Students in this program often study various communication and business theories to understand and analyze the social influence and impact that governmental, corporate and fundraising organizations have on the public. You can typically learn a combination of professional and human communication theory to better understand how to interact and communicate professionally with others. Most programs cater to different learning styles to teach you how to create and distribute messages to the public through case studies, hands-on training and academic work.

Common courses most strategic communications programs offer can include:

  • Strategic writing

  • Interactive and mobile campaigns

  • Interactive storytelling

  • Professional presentations

  • Media management

  • Organizational communication

  • Principles of management and organizational behavior

  • Strategic research methods

  • Media design

  • Campaign strategy

What skills can you gain from a strategic communications program?

Many of these programs can help you develop skills to prepare you for careers in public relations, advertising or marketing. You can learn how to write and communicate original and captivating messages to your audience that motivate them to take action. Other courses might teach you how to use different media platforms to launch and promote campaigns for organizations' services, products or brands. Some classes might allow you to evaluate previous or current communication events to understand how different messages affect the behaviors of certain audiences.

Common skills you might gain from a strategic communications program include:

  • Team-building and collaboration abilities

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Technical abilities

  • Persuasive and storytelling abilities

  • Written and verbal communication skills

  • Research skills

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving abilities

  • Strategic thinking and messaging creation skills

What roles can you pursue with a strategic communications degree?

Most students who graduate from this program typically pursue roles that involve communicating a brand's message to the public in community outreach or promotional efforts. Some positions you could pursue after earning your strategic communications degree include:

1. Fundraising manager

National average salary: $48,939 per year

Primary duties: A fundraising manager raises money to support various causes for a nonprofit organization or charity. Common job duties include locating fundraising opportunities for the organization to participate in, creating funding proposals to submit to potential donors, drafting press releases to submit to publications and organizing nonprofit events to raise awareness and collect donations for different charitable causes.

2. Advertising manager

National average salary: $51,939 per year

Primary duties: An advertising manager directs and oversees a company's promotional efforts to develop and launch engaging campaigns. Other responsibilities include working with clients to develop their campaigns' goals, timelines and budgets, monitoring a campaign's progress from beginning to end, delegating tasks to promotional teams and reviewing results from campaigns to locate improvement areas.

Related: Learn About Being an Advertising Manager

3. Public relations manager

National average salary: $54,367 per year

Primary duties: A public relations manager builds strategies and campaigns to ensure an organization maintains a positive public image. Other job duties might include drafting media and press releases, building comprehensive communication and messaging plans, reviewing all company materials and promotional efforts to ensure they represent the company in a positive and professional way and managing any interview requests and media inquiries on behalf of the organization.

Related: Learn About Being a Public Relations Account Manager

4. Digital strategist

National average salary: $61,217 per year

Primary duties: Digital strategists use different mediums, channels and analytical insights to build engaging and interactive campaigns that drive results for organizations. Additional responsibilities may include spotting industry trends, measuring the effectiveness of various digital channels, optimizing campaigns and websites to follow search engine optimization best practices, researching current technology trends to adopt new mediums or channels into current campaigns and analyzing user data to build targeted strategies.

5. Brand manager

National average salary: $62,726 per year

Primary duties: A brand manager builds and implements communications and marketing strategies, efforts and activities for an organization. Common job duties include executing branding initiatives that increase sales and market share, researching target audiences and consumer behaviors, developing sales estimates and departmental budgets and reporting on campaign performances for sales, marketing and advertising teams to review.

Related: Learn About Being a Brand Manager

6. Creative director

National average salary: $77,846 per year

Primary duties: Creative directors typically work within the creative departments at marketing or advertising agencies to oversee the success of various campaigns. Key responsibilities typically include producing innovative ideas for promotional and branding campaigns, evaluating current marketing trends, overseeing the performances of creative department employees, developing procedures to ensure all copy and designs follow brand guidelines, shaping brands' images and standards and evaluating the successes of various brand campaigns once published.

Related: Learn About Being a Creative Director

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