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Four Basic Communication Strategies, Beyond the Borders of Traditional Public Relations Practice
Unformatted Document Text:  15 (future) business partners as well as for employees through wining and dining. The steward’s claim to fame is based on success in keeping doors open. He needs no theory for that, just a mix of experience and intuition. This requires a certain level of maturity. Stewards gauge the success or failure of their actions by closely observing people’s responses. They conduct research simply by walking around. “The eyes-and-ears method” - as a large consultancy called it in all seriousness – was the most commonly used research method in public relations consultancies in 1993 (KS PR, 1993). While the steward type dominated the early literature on public relations in the commercial sector, it did so in a very specific way. Van Santen (1966:13) expressed his disapproval of this type, as a reaction to an image of public relations in society. “If people feel that public relations is all about knowing lots of people, having a vast network of contacts, attending numerous parties, wearing designer suits, frequenting expensive restaurants, shaking hands and drinking sherry, or just stimulating sales, they are wrong. That is not what PR is about”. On the other hand, most authors of that time stress that networking is what PR is about, and that social skills and a high level of general intelligence, coupled with a certain maturity, are much more important than professional skills for being successful in the business (Bekman, 1960; Kingma, 1965). By contrast, the modern literature devotes scant attention to stewarding. Van Ruler & De Lange (1995), however, found that representation was the second most time-consuming task. Thus stewarding is probably still a key task, but one that is no longer seen as an integral part of the public relations profession. The traffic manager: public relations is transfer of information The view of communication as a controlled one-way process, in combination with a focus on the denotative side of meaning characterizes the “traffic manager” type. Traffic managers employ a jargon typified by catchwords such as proper distribution, noise prevention, communication track, feedback on reach, quality control, structures and communication channels, digging canals, logistics. They take the view that communication is (physical) information transfer, and that their job is to manage this transfer properly.

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke.
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(future) business partners as well as for employees through wining and dining. The steward’s claim to
fame is based on success in keeping doors open. He needs no theory for that, just a mix of experience
and intuition. This requires a certain level of maturity. Stewards gauge the success or failure of their
actions by closely observing people’s responses. They conduct research simply by walking around.
“The eyes-and-ears method” - as a large consultancy called it in all seriousness – was the most
commonly used research method in public relations consultancies in 1993 (KS PR, 1993).
While the steward type dominated the early literature on public relations in the commercial sector, it
did so in a very specific way. Van Santen (1966:13) expressed his disapproval of this type, as a
reaction to an image of public relations in society. “If people feel that public relations is all about
knowing lots of people, having a vast network of contacts, attending numerous parties, wearing
designer suits, frequenting expensive restaurants, shaking hands and drinking sherry, or just
stimulating sales, they are wrong. That is not what PR is about”. On the other hand, most authors of
that time stress that networking is what PR is about, and that social skills and a high level of general
intelligence, coupled with a certain maturity, are much more important than professional skills for
being successful in the business (Bekman, 1960; Kingma, 1965). By contrast, the modern literature
devotes scant attention to stewarding. Van Ruler & De Lange (1995), however, found that
representation was the second most time-consuming task. Thus stewarding is probably still a key task,
but one that is no longer seen as an integral part of the public relations profession.
The traffic manager: public relations is transfer of information
The view of communication as a controlled one-way process, in combination with a focus on the
denotative side of meaning characterizes the “traffic manager” type. Traffic managers employ a jargon
typified by catchwords such as proper distribution, noise prevention, communication track, feedback
on reach, quality control, structures and communication channels, digging canals, logistics. They take
the view that communication is (physical) information transfer, and that their job is to manage this
transfer properly.


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