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Four Basic Communication Strategies, Beyond the Borders of Traditional Public Relations Practice
Unformatted Document Text:  21 Obviously, this type is not to be found among the ranks of serious professional authors of handbooks and “how to” books. However, they are very well represented among biographies and miscellanea, and in columns and interviews. While specimens of this type excel in eloquence, they exhibit a marked lack of professional substance. To them, their professional life is a string of unpredictable incidents that need to be tackled on a case-by-case basis, problems that could never be solved using theories. The afore-mentioned Dutch 1996 research on public relations models revealed that many communication managers feel that communication is all things to all men, and that it defies definition (Van Ruler, 1997). Dig Istha is a public relations consultant who is known for his outspoken views on the profession. He is also a columnist for Communicatie, the leading professional journal in the Netherlands. Writing in this journal, he fulminated against the “public relations professors with their SWOT analyses, their highly complex presentations, and their flow charts, full of triangles in circles and circles in triangles” (Istha, 2002:25). His column leads with the statement that good public relations is “natural public relations”. Public relations is not like mathematics, he claims; some people can do it, most people can’t. His conclusion is that there is only one person in the Netherlands who merits a full professorship in public relations, and that is Mart Visser, one of the country’s most famous couturiers. The reason? Merely because, if Istha is to be believed, Visser possesses this indefinable “je ne sais quoi”. 5. The Seven in perspective: a model of basic communication strategies What can we learn from this exploration of theoretically constructed and empirically clarified public relations approaches? First of all, the typology reveals an interesting historic-genetic approach to public relations. Each of these types were found to be present in the professional literature, and their history was traced. The town crier and the steward were dominant in the early professional literature on public relations in the public sector and in the context of enterprise respectively. The traffic manager and, more especially, the conductor were the dominant types in literature dating from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. This applied both to the public sector and the commercial sector. The creator was traced to official definitions by the Association of Communication dating from the sixties

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke.
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21
Obviously, this type is not to be found among the ranks of serious professional authors of handbooks
and “how to” books. However, they are very well represented among biographies and miscellanea, and
in columns and interviews. While specimens of this type excel in eloquence, they exhibit a marked
lack of professional substance. To them, their professional life is a string of unpredictable incidents
that need to be tackled on a case-by-case basis, problems that could never be solved using theories.
The afore-mentioned Dutch 1996 research on public relations models revealed that many
communication managers feel that communication is all things to all men, and that it defies definition
(Van Ruler, 1997). Dig Istha is a public relations consultant who is known for his outspoken views on
the profession. He is also a columnist for Communicatie, the leading professional journal in the
Netherlands. Writing in this journal, he fulminated against the “public relations professors with their
SWOT analyses, their highly complex presentations, and their flow charts, full of triangles in circles
and circles in triangles” (Istha, 2002:25). His column leads with the statement that good public
relations is “natural public relations”. Public relations is not like mathematics, he claims; some people
can do it, most people can’t. His conclusion is that there is only one person in the Netherlands who
merits a full professorship in public relations, and that is Mart Visser, one of the country’s most
famous couturiers. The reason? Merely because, if Istha is to be believed, Visser possesses this
indefinable “je ne sais quoi”.
5. The Seven in perspective: a model of basic communication strategies
What can we learn from this exploration of theoretically constructed and empirically clarified public
relations approaches? First of all, the typology reveals an interesting historic-genetic approach to
public relations. Each of these types were found to be present in the professional literature, and their
history was traced. The town crier and the steward were dominant in the early professional literature
on public relations in the public sector and in the context of enterprise respectively. The traffic
manager and, more especially, the conductor were the dominant types in literature dating from the
mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. This applied both to the public sector and the commercial sector. The
creator was traced to official definitions by the Association of Communication dating from the sixties


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