Strategic communications: East and South

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Series Details No.415, December 2016
Publication Date 19/12/2016
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Just like the term 'hybrid', often associated with warfare, tactics or threats, 'strategic communication(s)' has recently become rather fashionable. Not unlike 'hybrid', it often lacks a clear definition. A useful definition, especially for the scope of this publication, is offered in a 2011 Chatham House report, in which strategic communications is described as 'a systematic series of sustained and coherent activities, conducted across strategic, operational and tactical levels, that enables understanding of target audiences and identifies effective conduits to promote and sustain particular types of behaviour'.

In practice, for policy-related organisations, it includes elements of public diplomacy and 'spin', media relations, advertising, recruitment and training and, most notably, high levels of situational awareness ('detect and deter'). In operational terms, it entails both a defensive ('react and respond') and an offensive ('probe and push') dimension. Strategic communications is also a notion which is applicable to Russia and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), i.e. the two external players which have contributed the most to destabilising the EU's neighbours in recent years.

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