STCM 10300: Introduction to Strategic Communication


You will learn:
  1. You can get assistance at the library by working with a librarian
  2. How to formulate and execute a research strategy 
Course and research objectives:
  • Before the library session: Prep a Situational Analysis (background) for the client: : Examine the client's website, history, and any news coverage.
  • During the library session: Benchmarking: Identify a similar organization. Using library resources (business information, news, books), actively research background information for a communication intervention proposal on behalf of a client. Identify a client’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).  Determine how other organizations address similar communication problems.  Conduct background research on variety of information needs including: goals, audience, research situation, develop communication talking points,develop a media plan, prototype, evaluation plan, and an executive summary.  
  • After the library session: Create a proposal or campaign:  Write a Communication Intervention proposal. 

Research Strategy

1.  PLAN. You will propose a communication intervention for your client.  What is the core nature of that intervention? What is your industry? Write down your intervention and industry as keywords & phrases.  
(Ex.: fundraising, social media marketing, advertising through local media outlets, writing a pressrelease, designing a poster or handout, repairing an image or reputation, event management, etc.)
Industry: (Ex: Education, Fitness, Personnel Management, Public Administration) 
2.  FORM A SEARCH STRATEGY:  OR together similar terms in (parenthesis); AND together those groups of terms.  An asterisk *  is a truncator  -- finds: advertisement, advertising, etc.

Sample search strategy
"Public Administration"    AND    ( “social media” or facebook or twitter or tumbler )  
TIP:  Look at the subject fields of the articles in your search result; revise your search using subject terms

3.   SEARCH BUSINESS INFORMATION (scholarly, trade and business news)
Use your keywords to search the following resources:
ABI Inform,   Business Source Premier, Encyclopedia of Business Information (print)

Use your keywords to search the following newspaper databases:
LexisNexis Academic (national, international), Gannett Newspapers (includes the Ithaca Journal)

The library collects books on strategic communication practice (ex. How to market on Facebook, etc.) 

What are similar organizations doing to solve the problem?
List out three or more similar organizations to your client (could be in direct competition):
7.  AUDIENCE:  Who do you want to reach?  Research your client’s target market. You can search Census data, find articles in library databases (local newspapers), or use a specialized database like Simmons, Statista, or SBRnet.  
8.  COMMUNICATION CHANNELS:  How will you reach them?  Articles in local newspapers (LexisNexis, Gannett Newsstand) can be used. Google local municipal information (government, chamber of commerce, tourism).  Librarians can help you use specialized databases such as Simmons, SRDS, or Census data.
Consider searching a variety of types of sources.  If you're not sure, consult with Cathy. 
REFERENCE (Generally: biographies, dictionaries, directories, almanacs, encyclopedias, etc.) Encyclopedia of Business Information Sources
REF DESK HF5353 .E52  Lists key trade publications, databases and statistics for each industry.

Encyclopedia of communication theory
REF P87.5 .E496 2009

Encyclopedia of political communication
REF JA85 .E65 2008

IABC handbook of organizational communication : a guide to internal communication, public relations, marketing, and leadership
HD49 .H35 2010

Handbook of strategic public relations & integrated communications
HM263 .H317 2012

Handbook of crisis communication
HD49 .H34 2010

Handbook of communication and corporate social responsibility
HD60 .H334 2011


Ithaca Yellow Pages

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

KEY COMPETITORS (national/international)

Hoover's Company Records - In-depth Records
BOOKS Library’s catalog, (what books and videos we have)

ebrary (online books)

WorldCat via FirstSearch (what we have plus books we don't have—use Interlibrary loan to borrow)

Business Source Premier (Original Interface)
WEBSITES: Organizational & governmental information Company Websites: ex. GM Investor Relations

Industry Websites: ex. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Organizations: IIHS

Government Websites NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration), DOT (Department of Transportation)

Thomas - Legislative Information Bills

FDsys (GPO's Federal Digital System) Federal Digital System—online government documents

Oyez : U.S. Supreme Court Multimedia
COMPANY AND INDUSTRY BACKGROUND Business Insights: Essentials (company and industry background information) ex: search: General Electric

LexisNexis Academic Content Type (upper right) > Company Dossier (company profiles including corporate family trees) ex. search: General Electric. Also good for law reviews and cases
NEWSPAPERS & TRANSCRIPTS LexisNexis Academic  Content Type (upper right) > All News > Advanced Options > Source Type:  Wires, All News (Wires contains Business Wire, PR Newswire);  see also:  Content Type >  Broadcast Transcripts   ex.  hlead("electric vehicles" or EN-V)

Gannett Newsstand Complete  (Includes the Ithaca Journal)  ex. pub(Ithaca Journal) AND ft(sustainability) AND ft("ithaca college")
AUDIENCE, COMMUNICATION CHANNELS, MEDIA Simmons OneView (demographic, psychographic & brand info—see Cathy or Jim Bondra for help—5 Users can be logged on at a time)

SRDS Media Solutions Find media outlets to place advertisements

American FactFinder

Articles in local newspapers (LexisNexis, Gannett Newsstand) can be used.
Google local municipal information (government, chamber of commerce, tourism)

Best Bets: Databases

  • Communication Source Indexes journals in the field of communications. EBSCO Interface. 
  • Business Source Premier (Original Interface) Indexes journals in the field of business. EBSCO Interface. 
  • ABI/INFORM Complete Indexes journals in the field of business. ProQuest interface.
  • ScienceDirect   This is a "journal collection" rather than an aggregated database. All the content is by one publisher: Elsevier.  It has a lot of good public relations journals, however.
  • LexisNexis Academic   Use the News and Companies tab.
  • Business Insights: Essentials   If you need company, industry or association information, this is a good start.  Compare it to LexisNexis's Companies tab.  Note that information from trade association websites can be helpful.

Search Books, e-books, and videos

Use the Advanced Search of the library's catalog to search by keyword: Use the catalog for books we own; use Worldcat for books we don't own.

Finding a Citation

You want to find this citation:

Reber, B. H., & Gower, K. K. (2006). Avow or Avoid? The Public Communication Strategies of Enron and WorldCorn. Journal Of Promotion Management, 12(3/4), 215-239. doi:10.1300/J057v12n03•12.
  1. Examine your citation and determine the journal title (NOT the article title).  In this case it is the Journal of Promotion Management
  2. Click on the Articles tab on the library's homepage.  Under the "Journals" box, type your title in the box after "Title begins with" and click go.  You'll access a screen displaying the library's fulltext access to either print, microfilm, or electronic resources.  If there is none, you'll see a link to borrow the article via Interlibrary Loan.
  3. Examine the volume and year of your citation. The volume in the citation above is 12 and it was published in 2006.  Compare this information to the fulltext holdings. Communication and Mass Media Complete has the  Journal of Promotion Management from 2001 to 18 months ago
  4. Click on Communication and Mass Media Complete, and then browse to 2006, then click on the issue 3/4 (it should be the 12th article down);  OR click "search within this publication" and put Reber in the second search box and Avow in the third.  This should bring your right to the fulltext!  If you did not receive results, double-check your spelling.
Visual Learners: Would you prefer to watch me do this?  Watch this short video.

Keep informed

Try and identify top journals or newswires in your field and set up email or RSS alerts; you can also follow them in Twitter, Google+ or Facebook. Alerts be done directly from the journal website. Library databases offer alerts but require you to create accounts; library databases may offer fulltext holdings whereas the online journal may offer partial full-text to non-subscribers.
Some trade sites to follow:


Many professional organizations and industry associations develop ethics standards and guidelines or offer tips; here is a selection:

Communication Management & Design
Marketing & Advertising Public Relations Online e-book (authenticate with Netpass)

Roy L Moore,Advertising and public relations law (2nd ed. 2011). Contents: Chapter 1 The First Amendment; Chapter 2 The Development of the Commercial Speech Doctrine; Chapter 3 Public Interest Information as Commercial Speech; Chapter 4 Defamation, Product Disparagement and Related Torts; Chapter 5 Invasion of Privacy: False Light, Private Facts, Intrusion and Other Related Torts; Chapter 6 Invasion of Privacy: Misappropriation and Right of Publicity; Chapter 7 Copyright; Chapter 8 Patents and Trademarks; Chapter 9 Other Ways to Protect "Ideas"

Evaluating Websites, Media Relations

Note that big corporations will often have a Media Relations page; for example, here is one from Netflix.  Also look for Media Relations when seeking experts at colleges and universities; for example here is Ithaca College's Media Relations page. Organizations will also have contacts.  Government representatives always have multiple ways to contact them; for example Rep. Tom Reed, or, the Department of Enviornmental Conservation.  Seek a variety of perspectives from people in business, government, academic, as well as individual citizens.

Use the following criteria:
  • Accuracy: can you spot spelling errors or “fishy” statements?
  • Authority: who wrote the information on the website?    Is the author/s a professional or professional organization? Try and find out more about them.
  • Objectivity:  after reading about the purpose for the site, does the author or organization have a point of view that might slant or present information falsely? Check the “about” page). Is there a political slant? Are there advertisements; is someone trying to sell you an idea or product? 
  • Currency: when was the website last updated? Check the bottom of the page. Are there broken links? When was the latest information posted?
  • Appearance and layout:  does it appear professionally arranged? Does it load with ease?
Question everything, but generally official U.S./state government (.gov) and education (.edu) sites are more trustworthy than commercial (.com) and personal websites. 

Contact Us

picture of Cathy Michael

Cathy Michael

Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

Clicking the GET IT arrow

GET IT icon

When searching, if you see the "GET IT" icon, click on it. You'll be taken to the full text or to ILL if full text is unavailable.

Researching Theories

Reference: Search Theories through our EBSCO databases. Click Limit to: Full Text in the left menu to quickly find full text.  Or, use the GET IT arrow to find full text in another database or request an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) if not available.  See Cathy for assistance.

EN-V Campaign Project

GAME: Goal, Audience Analysis, Message, and Evaluation

EN-V Background

LexisNexis Help: News searching

LexisNexis maintains a wiki of help screens to their product.  The library subscribes to an Academic product for colleges and universities. There are other professional and subscription products sold to practitioners; the content may differ based on what is licensed.

You may need to limit your results using boolean search operators or searching specific sections of a document:
  • Boolean searching  This page lists and defines proximity operators such as w/p (words within the same paragraph), w/s (words within the same sentence), atleast (you can say you want a word to appear atleast5 -- at least 5 times in the article which increases the relevancy), etc.
  • Advanced Search: Build your own search.  If you want to search by headline, byline, city, company geographic region, person, publication, etc. you may have build a search using segments.  This page explains what segments are and how to build a search.
These are wiki pages that define specific searchs in LexisNexis Academic:

Browse Journals for Strat Com