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Four Basic Communication Strategies, Beyond the Borders of Traditional Public Relations Practice
Unformatted Document Text:  6 3. Communication models J. Grunig’s models of public relations represent the first classification of insights into communication. He distinguished PR models that stress a one-way model of communication and models that emphasize a two-way model. Shannon’s model (Shannon & Weaver, 1949) is a widely used one-way model of communication in which the transmission of signals through a (radio) channel is described. By contrast, an example of a two-way model of communication can, for example, be found in Wiener’s cybernetics theory (1948). This author showed how communication processes can be seen in terms of action and reaction. Describing two-way models, J. Grunig (1976, 2001) initially followed Thayer (1968), who drew a distinction between synchronic and diachronic views about the concept of communication. In more recent publications, Grunig described his two-way models as symmetrical and asymmetrical, after Watzlawick et al. (1970), who described the circular character of communication. Thayer was concerned with the development of meanings in messages (dia-cronic means literally “through time”), whereas Watzlawick was concerned with people’s socially-related behaviors. Although Watzlawick uses (a)symmetry in a different way, J. Grunig and his co-researchers Dozier & Ehling (1992:176) define asymmetry as a communication model in which a one-way, linear causal effect is predicted and evaluated. They state that “The presupposition is asymmetrical, for it conceives of communication and public relations as something organizations do to – rather than with – people”. Symmetrical public relations means “the use of bargaining, negotiating, and strategies of conflict resolution to bring about symbiotic changes in the ideas, attitudes, and behaviors of both the organization and its publics”(J. Grunig, 1989:29). Symmetrical communication means that each participant in the communication process is equally able to influence the other. In his most recent work, J. Grunig (1992a, 2001) claims that one-way models are always asymmetric, since the sender is only concerned with the transmission of his message and does not take the receiver into account. Thus in J. Grunig’s theory of public relations, we can find three distinct concepts of how communication works. These are one-way asymmetrical, two-way asymmetrical and two-way symmetrical. In J. Grunig’s work, however, it is still unclear what is meant by one-way. Does this

Authors: Van Ruler, A. A. Betteke.
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6
3. Communication models
J. Grunig’s models of public relations represent the first classification of insights into communication.
He distinguished PR models that stress a one-way model of communication and models that
emphasize a two-way model. Shannon’s model (Shannon & Weaver, 1949) is a widely used one-way
model of communication in which the transmission of signals through a (radio) channel is described.
By contrast, an example of a two-way model of communication can, for example, be found in
Wiener’s cybernetics theory (1948). This author showed how communication processes can be seen in
terms of action and reaction. Describing two-way models, J. Grunig (1976, 2001) initially followed
Thayer (1968), who drew a distinction between synchronic and diachronic views about the concept of
communication. In more recent publications, Grunig described his two-way models as symmetrical
and asymmetrical, after Watzlawick et al. (1970), who described the circular character of
communication. Thayer was concerned with the development of meanings in messages (dia-cronic
means literally “through time”), whereas Watzlawick was concerned with people’s socially-related
behaviors. Although Watzlawick uses (a)symmetry in a different way, J. Grunig and his co-researchers
Dozier & Ehling (1992:176) define asymmetry as a communication model in which a one-way, linear
causal effect is predicted and evaluated. They state that “The presupposition is asymmetrical, for it
conceives of communication and public relations as something organizations do to – rather than with –
people”. Symmetrical public relations means “the use of bargaining, negotiating, and strategies of
conflict resolution to bring about symbiotic changes in the ideas, attitudes, and behaviors of both the
organization and its publics”(J. Grunig, 1989:29). Symmetrical communication means that each
participant in the communication process is equally able to influence the other.
In his most recent work, J. Grunig (1992a, 2001) claims that one-way models are always asymmetric,
since the sender is only concerned with the transmission of his message and does not take the receiver
into account. Thus in J. Grunig’s theory of public relations, we can find three distinct concepts of how
communication works. These are one-way asymmetrical, two-way asymmetrical and two-way
symmetrical. In J. Grunig’s work, however, it is still unclear what is meant by one-way. Does this


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