Communication isn’t a One-Way Street
In many organizations public relations
and communications are used as interchangeable terms. The role of PR is to communicate on behalf of an
organization with the various publics who have a stake in your organization. As we discussed earlier this week, the best way to create meaningful messages for these
publics is to tailor the message to their interests. The reason we do this as communicators is as a means of
engaging with our publics.
Once the message is conveyed, however, a communicator’s work is not finished. In order to continue engagement with the general public, a communicator must enter a dialogue with stakeholders, discussing issues and truly understanding one’s consumers. This idea isn’t new to public relations, and is demonstrated in a study by Jim Grunig from 1992. Grunig’s two-way symmetrical model states that effective PR is a two-way dialogue, with information being exchanged between communicator and public in both directions. This is often how public relations differentiates itself from advertising, which is decidedly one-way. The key difference is feedback.
The proliferation of Social Media has made feedback commonplace in the 21st century. Individuals interact with each other online via chat rooms, “walls,” or blog comments. Even newspapers, the quintessential one-way medium, have adopted feedback mechanisms online. This adoption of “back talk” is an acceptance of the value in Grunig’s two-way model.
Public Relations is Relationships with the Public
Without feedback, public relations really isn’t relatable. PR isn’t selling, but at its purest is relationship building. Anyone who has built a successful relationship recognizes the importance of two-way communication, even if they don’t know a fancy name for it.
Why it’s important
It is important to realize that getting your message out there is only half the battle. To maintain that message, a good communicator will enter a discussion with the public. The best way to know what a public wants or needs is to get to know them.