I was a strategic communication practitioner for many years and did not know it. That is the most important thing I have learned as a MS in Communication student at Purdue, as well as how to harness, broaden, enhance, polish, and present those skills cohesively to plan career steps to soar to new heights.
Although I wasn’t performing graduate archaeology work at Purdue in the university’s anthropology department, I might as well have been doing an extensive dig—on myself. The abilities I unearthed through my education at Purdue were ones I had used before without realizing the power possible if I were to link them in a chain of branding, marketing, values, and content.
Prior to studying for the Online Master of Science in Communication at Purdue and receiving the Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management, I proudly chose to identify everything in my long award-winning career as “journalism.” After all, I had a Bachelor of Arts degree in print journalism from the University of Southern California and had been a longtime newspaper managing section editor, reporter, nationally syndicated columnist, and book author.
However, as early as within the first Purdue Core Seminar in Strategic Communication, I learned the definition of that term as, “…the purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulfill its mission…” involving “management, marketing, public relations, technical communication, political communication, and information/social marketing campaigns” (Hallahan, Holtzhausen, van Ruler, Vercic, & Sriramesh, 2007, p. 3). I then realized many of my achievements had fallen under that umbrella. In 2001, when I commissioned a Web site titled “Lisa Messinger: Your Cookbook Companion” featuring my syndicated columns, that was more accurately a branding marketing endeavor. Soon, I signed a contracted consulting development editor/book author deal with a previous trusted mainstream book publisher of mine after I corralled some of the chefs and cookbook authors I wrote about and created books I co-wrote with them that helped market their products or used their platforms to propel sales. This included Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook sold in bookstores, as well as advertised on that product’s packages in supermarkets. Later, I created a food column bylined by me for the nation’s top-rated female radio broadcaster’s Web site that had embedded in it each week the proclamation matching her mission statement of families being able to spend quality time together.
Were these projects journalism? I thought so before I was a student at Purdue solely based on the criteria that each writing-based venture reached external mass audiences. Due to Purdue, I now know that each was strategic communication involving branding, content, mission, and marketing. Instead of being just a small creative cog in a much larger wheel, I now am able to effectively demonstrate how I have affected user behavior (which I learned about by studying metrics in Purdue’s Core Seminar in Strategic Communication and Social Media) and sales. Importantly, these studies at Purdue have enabled me to embark on an Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) project, based on what we learned in our Core Seminar in Strategic Communication and from one of its highly informative textbooks (Kotler, Kartajaya, & Setiawan, 2010) that ties in values-driven marketing. That values- (and value-) enhanced project is me. Utilizing the most important thing I learned at Purdue, I now can weave my heretofore unrecognized threads of successful strategic communication experience through my resume to create a cohesive, inviting career focusing on results rather than just a hodgepodge of creative jobs in which my impact was not as clear.
Hallahan, K., Holtzhausen, D., van Ruler, B., Vercic, D., & Sriramesh, K. (2007). Defining Strategic Communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, (1)1: 3-35.
Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H., & Setiawan, I. 2010. Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Lisa Messinger is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.