An essential learning outcome for students studying strategic communication is to master the concept of communication pathways. These are the methods used to reach target publics and are sometimes called message delivery strategies. They work like the courier services delivering parcels (communication tools) containing goods (messages) to customers (target publics).

Individual communication pathways (there are seven of them) can be selected once goals, objectives, target publics and messages have been written. Individual, or combinations of, pathways should reflect the ways in which target publics prefer to receive information.

The roles of, and reasons for using, each communication pathway are explained. The chapter argues that it is often necessary to use more than one pathway, and that only using an uncontrolled pathway, or an interactive (social) media pathway, while important, does not guarantee success. This is because successful message delivery relies on reach, impact and control, which are difficult to achieve with these two pathways.

To help in selecting pathways, the chapter includes a table showing the potential reach and impact of the seven pathways.

At the end of the chapter, students should appreciate how communication pathways achieve objectives by delivering messages to target publics because they reflect the ways in which target publics prefer to access information.