By Jen Soriano and Joseph Phelan
In our movements and organizations, most of us understand that communications is important. We hold press conferences, send out press releases, prep our members to be spokespeople, and create Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for our organizations. We get it, intuitively, we need to do this work if we want to succeed.
But there’s a problem. When we equate communications tactics — a social media meme, or a cover story in the Sunday paper — with communications strategy, we miss the forest for the trees. Too many of us, at the end of hard-fought campaigns, ask ourselves: We got press coverage, we started an online petition, we created and shared videos on Facebook — so why didn’t we win?
Here at ReFrame, we offer one answer: our movements must move beyond tactical communications and embrace strategic communications in order to win both short-term and long-term victories.
But what exactly do we mean by strategic communications?
We use this definition:
Strategic communications is consistently and persistently saying the right thing, to the right people, at the right time, to mobilize social power and advance your narrative, so you can accomplish short-term objectives and set up long-term victories.
Let’s break this down:
We offer this definition as a reminder that only strategic communications integrated with deep organizing can truly challenge the narrative terrain in which we operate and mobilize the social power necessary to transform oppressive conditions. Tactical communications, while it might get you some press coverage, will not set us up to make deep change or shift power.
At ReFrame, we are committed to developing the next generation of strategic communicators for our movements, communicators who understand how to level the narrative playing field and build the social power we need to win.
Are you excited by the idea of deepening your communications practice? Interested in being a part of our 2017 cohort? Learn more and apply here.