Strategic thinking

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Thinking strategically

“Being strategic” is one of the buzz-phrases of the public affairs industry yet we seldom take the time to break it down; to help consultants understand how they can become more strategic and what that entails, nor why it matters.

Put simply, a strategic approach requires a clear vision of the future and what needs to be achieved. It rests on defining where the client, as an organisation, wants to be in the long-term and the paths to achieving that and keeping both under review.

Working strategically ensures that resources (the client’s and the agency’s) are allocated effectively and that the client and the agency work together harmoniously with a shared understanding of what needs to be achieved.

Core content typically includes: strat2

Transition from technician to strategic communicator

  • How the role evolves
  • Value to the client, agency and consultant

Understanding the brief

  • Interplay between business and communication objectives
  • Learning to listen and identify missing informationstrat1
  • How to probe for clarification
  • Summarising / framing the issue

Analysing the brief

  • Identifying if public affairs can help
  • What needs to be analysed before proposing a way forwardstrat3
  • Questions to help diagnosis


  • Value of planning
  • The core elements of an effective strategy
  • The difference between outputs and outcomes


  • Implementing the plan and surviving ‘first contact’
  • Reflecting and responding to developments
  • Keeping track of, and reviewing, progress