Techniques to Succeed: Grunig’s Four Models of Public Relations

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot dot com]

This week’s blog comes from The ABCs of Strategic Communication (AuthorHouse – 2008), which contains 7,000 strategic communication definitions plus 282 Tips and Techniques.

James Grunig and Todd Hunt developed four models of public relations. Each differs in the purpose and nature of communication. 

Press Agentry/Publicity – one-way communication – uses persuasion and manipulation to influence audience to behave as the organization desires (One way with propaganda as its purpose.)

Public Information – one-way communication – use news releases and other one-way communication techniques to distribute organizational information. Public relations practitioner is often referred to as the “journalist in residence.” (One way with dissemination of truthful information.)

Two-way asymmetrical – two way – Sometimes called “scientific persuasion” (short term rather than long term). Uses persuasion and manipulation to influence audience to behave as the organization desires – incorporates lots of feedback from target audiences and publics – used by an organization primarily interested in having its publics come around to its way of thinking rather changing the organization, its policies, or its views.

Two-way symmetrical – two way – Uses communication to negotiate with publics, resolve conflict, and promote mutual understanding and respect between the organization and its public(s). Research is used not only to gather information, but also to change the organization’s behavior.Understanding, rather than persuasion, is the objective.  (Every attempt is made for each side to understand the other’s point of view. If your public agrees with you, then you must find a way to communicate with the public and motivate it to act.) Seems to be used more by non-profit organizations, government agencies and heavily regulated businesses (public utilities) rather than by competitive, profit driven companies.

Thanks to: James Grunig and Todd Hunt – University of Maryland – 1984

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot dot com]