Strategy Take

As we launch our new website and promote Paul Robbins Associates as a “strategic communications” agency, it begs the question, “What are strategic communications?"

When I started my career in communications, first as a political consultant in my mid 20s, I didn’t know I was getting into the strategy business. In fact, I really didn’t know what I was doing at all. I was fascinated by the idea that a campaign and the message created by a candidate, and more importantly by a consultant, could actually influence how someone would vote. At the time, I was intrigued by the idea (I still am) that a consultant ultimately has more than one vote.

I was fortunate at a young age to win, quite accidentally, several high-profile, long-shot political campaigns. I learned later, with more experience, about the dynamic of those campaigns and why they were successful.

When I launched FitzGerald & Robbins with Gerry FitzGerald, we promoted ourselves as an advertising, marketing and public relations agency. And when I started Paul Robbins Associates in 2005, we presented the new company as a marketing communications and public relations agency. All true, but not exactly what we do.

Advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns come about after a determination of the objectives and a well-conceived strategy to address them. In short, developing a newspaper or television ad represents the end product of a strategy. When an organization approaches us to develop some “advertising or marketing materials,” I always suggest we step back and determine who the audience is, what we want them to do (or not do) and build a communications plan from there. Advertising might be the last thing we suggest; instead, a public affairs program or targeted communications to a specific audience might be more appropriate.

Marketing, advertising and public relations materials have increasingly become commodities. One can develop a website from available online tools, even produce a television commercial sitting in front of a Mac. That’s not what we do here. We develop strategies that use some or many of these commodities, but the strategy always comes first.

In this blog I will highlight strategic approaches to communications that we ourselves are employing for a particular organization or executions from others that we admire and think we all can learn from.

So, welcome to our new website, and if you subscribe to Strategy Take, you will get email alerts when I post something new. We will write something only when we see something compelling -- we won’t be filling space just to hear ourselves think. And if you have insights on strategy and communications, feel free to reach out and share.

Photograph of Paul Robbins
Paul Robbins

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