Strategic Communications is understood as the deliberate use of words, images, and actions to achieve policy goals. On the one hand, it is a tool of statecraft; used by governments and other actors to influence a target audience’s behaviour. In the ever-contested international security environment, Strategic Communications plays a vital role in a state’s ability to shape the discursive environment and provide outcomes that are aligned with its interests and values.
In its practice, Strategic Communications encompasses an array of activities and capabilities, ranging from activities for persuasion (public diplomacy), engagement (diplomacy, defence engagement, aid and development), to coercion (threatened or overt use of force) as well as a range of whole-of-government capabilities and machineries including economic statecraft and other forms of influence techniques.
However, at a more fundamental level, Strategic Communications is understood to be a mindset; a holistic approach to communicating with individuals, communities or societies based on values and interests that encompasses everything an actor does (or does not do) to achieve its objectives. As such, it is not just an act of communicating purposefully, but a long-term approach to shaping numerous discourses and world views. The adoption of the Strategic Communications mindset is what allows states to remain flexible to rapid changes without compromising their values.
Strategic Communications is inherently linked to values. As the values of a society shape its institutions, policies and communications, it is the role of Strategic Communications to project those values to segmented and targeted audiences in order to shape the way they think and behave. In international affairs, values have become all the more central as issues over free trade, human rights and territorial disputes present competing views of world order. At the same time, geopolitics in the early 21st century has become more transactional, eliciting a reaction by many actors to assert behavioural norms rooted in alternative systems of values.
For democracies, the ability of Strategic Communications to influence discourses at home and abroad, and to match narratives with counter-narratives is vital to shaping its security environment in today’s contested environment, saturated with hybrid threats. It requires a high level of coordination between stakeholders to develop positive and effective messages and actions to any defined democratic audience or audience of an authoritarian state.
In facilitating an exchange of views, knowledge and experience among scholars and practitioners from Europe and Japan, SCERU aims to further the advancement of Strategic Communications as an approach to communication and as a tool of statecraft. We strive for a better understanding of Strategic Communications through research and its integration in policy-making through training and education.
Bolt, Neville, Haiden, Leonie. Improving NATO Strategic Communications
Terminology. NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Riga. 2019
Villar, Juan Pablo, Carlota Quirós, Carlos Galán Pascual, Carlos Galán Cordero, and Julio Blázquez Soria. Strategic Communications as a Key Factor in Countering Hybrid Threats. Edited by Zsolt Pataki. European Parliamentary Research Service, 2021.
Aoi, Chiyuki. The Significance of Strategic Communications: Implications for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Initiative. European University Institute, 2021.
Bolt, Neville. ‘Strategic Communications and Disinformation in the Early 21st Century’. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY, 10 October 2021.
青井千由紀『戦略的コミュニケーションと国際政治』(Strategic Communications) (日経 BP 2022)