A Unified Theory of Strategic Integrated Communications

For the past few years I’ve been working to develop a unifying theory that explained how each of the communications disciplines worked – both independently and as a single system.  My paper, published by Palgrave in their Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Public Affairs, introduces the theory, including an hierarchy, a taxonomy and scientific method.  It proposes how a unifying theory can resolve many of the challenges faced by both academics and practitioners.



I’ve written about each of the key themes in more detail – click each section  to read more.

The first challenges, were to better define communications, with functional – rather than operational – definitions for each discipline.  As part of this work, a new taxonomy was developed.

With clear definitions it was possible to develop a hierarchical ontology that codifies the structure of each discipline and the interrelationships between each and the other disciplines.

Having defined this hierarchy it was possible to develop a periodic table of elements for strategic communications.


Our work then looked to combine these things with a scientific method and body of knowledge, to enable hypotheses to be built and tested.  It would allow for repeatable, structured experiments to be run – and for our work to be independently tested to prove, or disprove its merits.

To make it easy for others – particularly entrepreneurs – to use what we had created to build more effective public relations and marketing strategies with minimal comms knowledge or expertise, and to do it cost-effectively, we built a Framework and toolkit with quick-start guides.


Measurement has been a long-debated topic amongst both practitioners and customers and our work looked to see whether we could develop a metric stack that measured strategic progress towards a desired business outcome, as well as the impact of achieving it.

Our final focus was to see whether it was possible to integrate comms with other tools used by businesses – for innovation, testing business ideas, building products that customers want to purchase and for building a business through customer development.

A preview of our work in each of these areas is available at thinkdifferently.ca/thescienceofcomms

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