There is propaganda.
There is persuasion.
There is publicity.
But there is no strategic communication—any more than there is strategic love.
Someone who would communicate strategically is like the artist that the writer George Saunders writes about:
We often discuss art this way: the artist had something he “wanted to express,” and then he just, you know … expressed it. We buy into some version of the intentional fallacy: the notion that art is about having a clear-cut intention and then confidently executing same.
The actual process, in my experience, is much more mysterious and more of a pain in the ass to discuss truthfully.
An artist works outside the realm of strict logic. Simply knowing one’s intention and then executing it does not make good art. Artists know this. According to Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.” Gerald Stern put it this way: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking—then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.” Einstein, always the smarty-pants, outdid them both: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”
And yes, I have put on seminars promising "strategic speechwriting" and the like. But that's just to fool your boss into letting you go because it sounds businesslike.
And it's strategic, all right.
But it's not communication.
What is communication?
More on that tomorrow.