This chapter outlines the book’s format and introduces some of the principles of strategic communication planning. It includes a graphic representation of the steps students will need to follow to prepare a strategic plan that also explains what each step involves.

The chapter begins the book’s exploration by noting that a strategy sets the direction for all communication activities, from the simplest door-stop media interview, marketing communication or regular communication with employees, through to a major political lobbying campaign or an ongoing program to make sure an organisation’s brand reputation is maintained.

Explanations of the standard sections of all chapters, including those about theoretical approaches, and professional practice examples, are provided. The first strategic planning exercise is in this chapter.

Students are presented with seven cases, specially written for the book, from which to choose a topic for their strategic communication plan.

It briefly demonstrates the Harvard case-method approach to questions students will encounter as they work through the text.

After working through this chapter, students should understand how the book builds their knowledge of the principles for planning and implementing a strategic communication plan, including how to research the positive and negative issues facing an organisation as the first step in planning a communication strategy.