Term refresh: Strategy vs. tactics

Established communicators understand the importance of communicating information, updates, and initiatives to their audiences in ways that are clear, concise, and engaging. A foundational step toward that goal is knowing the difference between strategy and tactics and how they work together.

Asana shares that:
Strategy is “an action plan that you will take to achieve a final end goal.” Think long-term and high-level.

Tactics are “the individual steps and actions that will get you where you want to go.” Think short-term set pieces. 

“The question should not be strategy vs. tactics, but strategy and tactics.”

Both strategy and tactics are important in any communications effort. Without a good communication strategy, your tactics may be aimless and ineffective. Without good tactics, your strategy may never come to fruition. Either action may feel daunting, or too lengthy a process, but each element enhances the work of the other, leaving you with a well-executed and well-received result. Make sure:

Your strategy is

  • Data-informed
  • Clearly defined
  • Includes a backup plan

Your tactics are

  • Short-term
  • Clearly tied to the strategy
  • Actionable and time-bound 


Strategy: Announce a student-centered event 

Strategy: Prepare a smooth transition for a new policy change

  • Hold a meeting with key leaders or communicators to give background on the change and offer resources if contacted for questions. 
  • Craft an email notice for affected individuals detailing the change and new process.
  • Create and post signage around buildings or laboratories and on relevant web pages detailing new changes.

Reach out to the University Relations Internal Communications team for strategy and tactic guidance at internalcomms@umn.edu