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Strategic communication permeates our society

The range of information on offer today is greater than ever before. Organisations and companies fight for attention, and the media landscape has changed radically, not least through the emergence of digital media as part of everyday life.

– Alongside this development, strategic communication has become increasingly important. It permeates our society – politically, economically and culturally, says Jesper Falkheimer, Vice-Chancellor and professor at the Department of Strategic Communication.

Research in strategic communication addresses the formal and informal communication work of an organisation to achieve a particular goal.

– Strategic communication has never been as significant as it is today. The image communicated by a company or a public authority, for example, is crucial to the trust and legitimacy that the organisation enjoys both internally and in the surrounding world. Communication also affects the balance of power and relations internally, between management and employees says Jesper Falkheimer, before adding:

– Our research is to highlight, generate understanding of and critically review the communication processes that govern and shape organisations in our society.

New media and crisis communication

The research addresses everything from new media and modern democracy (what role do social media play – and how do organisations manage them – in a democratic society?) to crisis communication (how does an organisation communicate to prepare for and manage crises?).

The subject is, as mentioned previously, in its academic infancy, and Jesper Falkheimer is Sweden’s first professor of strategic communication. But ever since rhetoric – "the art of eloquence" – emerged in Antiquity, people have discussed how to succeed in communicating strategically. The academic subject of Strategic Communication was previously a specialisation within Media and Communication Studies.

– But strategic communication has been a subject in its own right for several years, with dynamic and growing education and research, says Jesper Falkheimer.

The discipline has developed its own theories rooted in both social sciences, such as sociology, social psychology and political science, and in the humanities – such as rhetoric and linguistics.

Boundary-crossing research

Interdisciplinarity is ever present and research is boundary-crossing in other ways as well. One example of this is the Öresund Media Platform project, which has both a research aspect and a practical aspect.

– Currently, the flow of news between Denmark and Sweden is meager. The Swedes know very little about Danish politics and culture. The Danes do not know much about Sweden and the Skåne region. There is no common public sphere, in spite of the geographical proximity, says Jesper Falkheimer.

Among other things, researchers from Campus Helsingborg will map the media image of the Öresund region as it is today. What is reported? Which parts of society are less visible?

– We are to introduce knowledge about the region’s media monitoring into the process. This is action research. We take an active part in the process, and instigate social development in the region, says Jesper Falkheimer.