GRA 6142 Strategic Communication Management

GRA 6142 Strategic Communication Management

Course code: 
GRA 6142
Communication and Culture
Course coordinator: 
Alexander Buhmann
Ansgar Zerfass
Course name in Norwegian: 
Strategic Communication Management
Product category: 
MSc in Digital Communication Management
2023 Spring
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Strategic communication is the purposeful use of communication by an organization to engage in conversations of strategic significance to its goals. Digital technologies, such as networking sites, mobile media, or algorithms bring about new organizational forms (e.g., sharing platforms or social media), and fundamentally change the way information is produced, disseminated, and consumed. This creates new challenges and opportunities for the strategic role of communication.  

In this course, we explore the institutions and processes through which communication contributes to organizational success in the digital age, and we learn how these processes are managed. We develop a deep understanding of the communicative constitution of organizational identity, reputation, and legitimacy, and we address managerial solutions to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of communication activities. Further, the course offers insight into contemporary challenges of strategic communication in the digital age, such as the important role of artificial intelligence and social media engagement for organizational responsibility and legitimation. And it explores the various institutional setups through which strategic communications is enacted and how communication services and products are delivered by communication departments and external vendors such as agencies and consultancies.

The course builds state of the art knowledge and skills in strategic communication from an international perspective and gives insight into the use of academic theories in daily business practices of communicating (i.e., communication processes to foster identity, image, reputation etc.) and managing (i.e., processes of planning, organizing, staffing, executing and evaluating communication). The course prepares students to assume leadership roles in communication and related functions by combining deep analytical knowledge in communication and organization with personal skills and competencies in research-based tools and instruments for strategizing, implementing and innovating strategic communication activities). It also prepares those assuming responsibility in general management to understand the specific value of communication and to leverage the full potential of communication specialists for organizational success.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • Understand what strategic communication is and how it contributes to organizational value creation
  • Understand how communication can create value for organizations, both by influencing stakeholders and by enabling better business decisions internally
  • Understand the positive and negative impact of public opinion, media and social media discourse, employee and consumer voice, political debates, as well as image, reputation, and legitimacy among key stakeholders for corporate success
  • Distinguish and identify strategic and operational communications, in order to assess challenges, prioritize activities, and allocate resources
  • Identify and situate key concepts for managing communication activities and the communication function within an organization on different levels
  • Understand the constitutive role and contribution of communication in organizational transformation and change
  • Understand the role and importance of communication performance management for planning, executing and evaluating communications
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • Analyze ‘communication challenges’ of organizations (in light of seminal target constructs – such as reputation – or situational contexts – such as crises)
  • Analyze structures and processes underlying organizational communication
  • Apply communication management tools for analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • Assess and reflect business models for communication departments
General Competence
  • Researching relevant literature
  • Collaborate with others and actively share acquired knowledge
  • Presenting and giving feedback on the work of others
Course content

Part I: Foundational Concepts and Theories

1. Introduction: Strategic Communication and Strategic Communication Management

2. The Formation of Legitimacy and Reputation in the Digital Society

3. Strategic Communication and the Communicative Constitution of Organizations

PART II: Challenges and Solutions in Practice

4. Value Creation, Alignment and Goal-Setting in Communication Management

5. Communication Strategies and Planning

6. Communication Tactics, Channels, and Media

7. Performance Measurement and Evaluation

PART III: Situational and Future Perspectives

8. Reputation Management in Times of Automation and AI

9. Responsibility Online: CSR Communication on Digital and Social Media

PART IV: Institutionalization of Communication Management

10. Communication Services and Products: Stakeholder Communications, Coaching, and Advising

11. Communication Departments as Internal Partners: Contributions and Business Models

12. Agencies and Service Providers as External Supporters: Delegation and Cooperation

Teaching and learning activities
  • Lectures (with individual and interactive exercises)
  • Collaborative group activities (discussions, debates etc.)
  • Guest lectures
Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge

We expect students to have a solid grasp of the English language as well as a strong interest in the issues at hand, and to actively participate in class.

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group (2 - 3)
1 Semester(s)
Students will write a term paper (100%) in groups. The term paper can have one of two formats: a) a literature review of the “state of the art” in international research on a specific issue or question related to the topics discussed in sessions 1-9; or b) a case study using either a campaign focus and applying the concepts from sessions 4-7 or an institutional focus and applying the concepts from sessions 10-12. Students are requested to submit a short proposal (outline of the issues/questions or case studies) for approval by the course leaders before writing the paper; details will be explained in the course.
Exam code: 
GRA 61421
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Student workload
36 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
64 Hour(s)
100 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.