Course Syllabus

Strategic Communication

DIS Logo


Semester & Location:

 Spring 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Western Denmark and London

Major Disciplines:

Communication. Business. Public Relations.



Faculty Members:

Benjamin Holk Henriksen contact via Canvas inbox

Time & Place:

Tuesdays and Fridays, 08:30-09:50

Location N7-B13


Course Description

You cannot not communicate. What you can do is ensure that your communication contributes to meeting your goals, resonates with the audience, and fits the specific context. In present day society, consumers are met with thousands of messages on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the advent of social media means a significant shift in the role of government institutions, organizations, and corporations. Authenticity, trust, and purpose have never been more important.

In this course, we explore strategic communication in an increasingly complex world. Through theoretical perspectives, case studies, and a hands-on project we will develop a deeper understanding of the strategic framework that underlies efficient and meaningful communications. The course includes two study tours, which will allow you to engage in various topics related to organizational, strategic, and personal communication and to meet professionals in the field.

Learning Objectives

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate general knowledge of communication theory and application.
  • Identify key concepts and central discussions within the professional and academic fields of modern-day communication.
  • Practice critical thinking in order to evaluate communication strategies.
  • Develop a strategic framework for effective communication campaigns.

Core Course Instructor

Benjamin Holk Henriksen.

Master of Law from University of Copenhagen, MBA from California State University and a Certificate in Directing from UCLA. Owner of Holk & Co and author and producer of the international leadership, marketing and communications book and film series: “Holk Master-class” and ”The Mind of a Leader,” including interviews with icons like Philip Kotler, Anita Roddick, Philippe Starck, Michael Dukakis and many more. Experience as strategic planner at an advertising agency and Senior Trade Officer and head of trade section for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Los Angeles and Singapore. With DIS since 2013.

Content and Structure

The course is organised around three modules:

  1. FOUNDATION: Get to know the academic field of strategic communications – key concepts, discussions, theory, and methodology.
  2. STRATEGIC AND CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT: Explore different disciplines in the professional field of strategic and creative communication. Discuss terms and the philosophical, operational, and ethical implications of strategic communication in a multi-mediated world.
  3. OPERATION: Use the knowledge gained in class in own projects, case presentations and feedback.  

Throughout the semester, short lectures are combined with student presentations, group work, field and case studies, and in-class activities.

Group Work

Participation in group work is mandatory, and your ability to work in a group setting will influence the engagement grade. 

Grading Elements

Specific assignments and grade rubrics for all grading elements can be found on Canvas.

Class engagement (25 %) – Attendance, level of preparation and involvement in class activities, and active participation in field studies and on study tours.

Take-home test (25%) – An in class or online test based on multiple choice and/or short answer questions.

Take-home individual case assignment (25%) – In a short essay, you will be asked to work on a case or describe and reflect on key concepts discussed in class. The assignment should demonstrate theoretical insights and critical thought (more information will be listed on the assignment).

Semester project – Final project presentation and hand-in (25 %) ­– During the semester, you will work with your project group to create your own strategic communications campaign targeting a real-world challenge. In the final presentation, you must reflect on your strategic choices and put forth solid academic arguments, including thoughts on target groups, and connect them to theoretical concepts discussed in class.

The team must choose a company you find interesting.

Part 1) Develop a creative brief including all the strategic disciplines that leads to the value words/brands coms.

It’s especially important that the teams can justify their:

  • Strategic objective.
  • Target group.
  • Positioning maps (What you partly build the campaign on).
  • The brand coms/value words and what parts of the brief they are based on (especially the above).
  • No need for a Customer Journey or SWOT.

Part 2) Develop a pitch for TWO commercials including logline, tagline, story board and mood-boards, with pictures that describes the visual style, colours and feeling the final commercial will communicate.

While the mood-boards solely focus on a visual creative feeling, it’s important that the rest of the pitch reflects the brand coms.


Study Tours

Being a core course, Strategic Communication includes two study tours:

Core course week study tour in Denmark: Odense and Århus.

Study tour to England: London.

On the study tours, we take the classroom on the road and meet practitioners working in the field of strategic communications. You will be expected to actively participate in all scheduled activities, engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives.

You will travel with your classmates, DIS faculty and staff. While on a program study tour, DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), and approx. two meals per day as well as entrance fees, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination.

You will receive a detailed itinerary prior to departure. See Course Plan for travel dates.

Required Readings

  • Holk Master-class, ABC of Strategy, Marketing & Communications.
  • Aronczyk, Melissa: Living the Brand: The Identity Strategies of Nation-Branding Consultants, in: Branding the Nation. The Global Business of National Identity (2013)
  • Bowen, Shannon: 'We are professional manipulators' – PR pros, are we lying to ourselves? PR Week, August 12, 2015
  • Brinkmann, Svend & Kvale, Steinar: Conducting an Interview, in: Interviews. Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2015)
  • Cornelissen, Joep: Stakeholder Management and Communication and Issues Management in: Corporate Communication. A Guide to Theory & Practice (2017)
  • Doorley, John & Garcia, Helio Fred: Crisis Communication, in: Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication (2011)
  • Enli, Gunn: The Paradox of Mediated Authenticity, in: Mediated Authenticity. How the Media Constructs Reality (2015)
  • Holtzhausen, Derina & Zerfass, Ansgar: Strategic Communication. Opportunities and Challenges of the Research Area, in: Holtzhausen & Zerfass (ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication, (2015)
  • Keyton, Joann: Introduction to Qualitative Research, in: Communication Research. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (2011)
  • Lakoff, George: Framing 101: How to Take Back Public Discourse, in: Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (2004)
  • Murphy, Priscilla: Contextual Distortion. Strategic Communication versus the Networked Nature of Nearly Everything in: in: Holtzhausen & Zerfass (ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication, (2015)
  • Neill, Marlene: Counterpoint: PR Practitioners Can Not Afford To Lose Credibility. PR Say, August 19, 2015
  • Phillips, Robert: The Death Of PR. The Only Agency We Need Is Change, in: Trust Me, PR is Dead (2015)
  • Rose, Chris: Communicating with Humans, in: How to Win Campaigns: Communications for Change (2010 [2005])
  • Schultz, Majken: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective on Corporate Branding, in: Schultz et al. (ed): Corporate Branding. Purpose/People/Process (2005)
  • Tapscott, Don: Four Principles for the Open World, TEDGlobal (2012)
  • Zeynep, Tufekci: It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech, in Wired, January 16, 2018

All readings will be posted on Canvas.

You are expected to follow the news and stay updated on current events to the extent that you will be able to discuss these from a communications’ perspective.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due