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Four Basic Communication Strategies, Beyond the Borders of Traditional Public Relations Practice
Unformatted Document Text:  23 appropriate. The same is true of a model which treats communication as magical mystery. That is why the town crier’s communication model-in-use, together with those of the steward and the seat-of-the- pants, cannot be taken seriously. Of course, press releases have to be written and materials have to be produced, but this must be done in support of specific aims. The potential receivers must always be borne in mind and the effects of these actions must be evaluated. These materials are simply a means, and not an end in themselves. To paraphrase Schön (1987:13), while the art of improvisation is certainly necessary, this does not imply that communication is all things to all men, as the seat-of-the- pants type would like us to believe. There is, however, no empirical or logical evidence that any one of the four theory-based communication models alone could outclass the other three models. We all try to inform and persuade others, and we also engage in dialogue and negotiations, depending on the context and the situation (Ruler & Vercic, 2003). For that reason, to paraphrase Weick (1987:106), the question is not “Is the model true?”. All models are true in their respective fields of application. We can therefore postulate that all four theory-based models can be of use in public relations, but as strategies rather than as isolated models. The question then is “When, and under what conditions, is the model true?”. This fits the approach to models of organizational communication adopted by Krone et al. (1987). They described four perspectives of organizational communication, e.g. mechanistic, psychological, interpretive-symbolic and systems-interaction. They argue that “research and even application in the field of organizational communication espouses, either explicitly or implicitly, a particular view of communication. This view shapes the way people see organizational communication and the way they interpret what they see” (p.37). However, their conclusion is that no single perspective is either right or wrong. All four models yield different insights into communication, “In effect, communication encompasses all of the four perspectives”(p.38). If we adopt their reasoning, this implies that we could use the four remaining communication models- in-use as strategies for public relations practice. To this end, the four models are placed in a matrix, producing a situational model of communications strategies. The direction of the communication

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke.
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appropriate. The same is true of a model which treats communication as magical mystery. That is why
the town crier’s communication model-in-use, together with those of the steward and the seat-of-the-
pants, cannot be taken seriously. Of course, press releases have to be written and materials have to be
produced, but this must be done in support of specific aims. The potential receivers must always be
borne in mind and the effects of these actions must be evaluated. These materials are simply a means,
and not an end in themselves. To paraphrase Schön (1987:13), while the art of improvisation is
certainly necessary, this does not imply that communication is all things to all men, as the seat-of-the-
pants type would like us to believe.
There is, however, no empirical or logical evidence that any one of the four theory-based
communication models alone could outclass the other three models. We all try to inform and persuade
others, and we also engage in dialogue and negotiations, depending on the context and the situation
(Ruler & Vercic, 2003). For that reason, to paraphrase Weick (1987:106), the question is not “Is the
model true?”. All models are true in their respective fields of application. We can therefore postulate
that all four theory-based models can be of use in public relations, but as strategies rather than as
isolated models. The question then is “When, and under what conditions, is the model true?”.
This fits the approach to models of organizational communication adopted by Krone et al. (1987).
They described four perspectives of organizational communication, e.g. mechanistic, psychological,
interpretive-symbolic and systems-interaction. They argue that “research and even application in the
field of organizational communication espouses, either explicitly or implicitly, a particular view of
communication. This view shapes the way people see organizational communication and the way they
interpret what they see” (p.37). However, their conclusion is that no single perspective is either right
or wrong. All four models yield different insights into communication, “In effect, communication
encompasses all of the four perspectives”(p.38).
If we adopt their reasoning, this implies that we could use the four remaining communication models-
in-use as strategies for public relations practice. To this end, the four models are placed in a matrix,
producing a situational model of communications strategies. The direction of the communication


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