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Chapter Three: Communication

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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In the early 21st century, social media dominates the communications practice. We live in a wired world. Words and images flash to millions around the globe in real time. The power of communication has never been greater.
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

Public relations practitioners are professional communicators. They must be the best in the organization at:

writing speaking listening promoting counseling

Being understood and understanding others is crucial to this process.


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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

All planned communication must have goals. Here are a few:


To inform To persuade To motivate To build mutual understanding

In all efforts, an integrated, strategically planned approach is of key importance.


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Two-step flow theory: an organization beams its message to mass media, which delivers the message to mass audiences. Concentric-circle theory: ideas originate with great thinkers and political leaders, then evolve gradually to the public in circular fashion.

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Pat Jacksons five-step process: Building awareness Developing a latent readiness Triggering event Intermediate behavior Behavioral change

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S-E-M-D-R communications process: the Source Encodes a Message, which is Decoded by the Receiver. Spiral of Silence: communications depend on the silence and non-participation of a huge majority, which will often choose to vote with the majority.

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The complexity of communications in contemporary society has led to more audience-centered theories:

Constructivism: knowledge is constructed, not transmitted. The communicator must understand: the receivers beliefs, preferences, background how receivers think about issues, then work to convince them to adopt a new point of view

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Coordinated Management of Meaning

According to this theory, we construct our own social realities and ideas about appropriate action. When we interact, we try to coordinate our own beliefs and values with those of others.
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

Grunig-Hunt Public Relations Models:


Press agentry/publicity Public information Two-way asymmetric Two-way symmetric

What do each of these mean, and how can they work for the public relations practitioner?

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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Communication begins with words. They are among our most personal and potent weapons. Words mean different things to different people depending on race, education, occupation and personal background. Words significantly influence the message conveyed to the receiver. The public relations professional must carefully understand and encode their clients messages.
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

The true importance of words lies in framing key messages to move publics to action.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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We can view messages according to these theoretical explanations:

The content is the message. The content of the communication constitutes the message. This is why accurate and truthful content is key in all public relations communications.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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The medium is the message. Here, the medium itself is the most important factor in communication. The person is the message. This view recognizes the power and personality of the speaker.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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It is critical to understand the biases, preferences and knowledge of our message receivers. Everyone is biased; no two people perceive a message the same way. What factors can influence a receivers bias? Lets find out

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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We live in a world of stereotypical figures. What images do the following names bring to mind?

Gen-Xer Feminist Computer geek Blue-collar worker Used-car salesperson

Like it or not, stereotypes influence communication.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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Consider the following symbols. What images do they create in your mind?

The clenched-fist salute The Statue of Liberty The World Trade Center The Star of David The swastika

When properly used, symbols can be highly persuasive.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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Words mean different things to different people.


Language and the meanings of words are always changing.

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To frame effective messages, public relations professionals must understand intricacies of peer-group influences on attitude and action. Recall the power of peer groups from your high-school days. Did they ever cause you to believe or do things that you normally wouldnt?
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

The media is a powerful agenda setter. It can tell us what issues are important.
The Agenda-Setting Hypothesis states that: the media does not reflect reality it filters and shapes it. media concentration on a few issues leads the public to perceive those issues as more important. By interesting the media in client-centered stories, public relations professionals also play a role in agenda setting.
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

Communicators must get feedback from a receiver to know what messages are getting through, and how to structure future communications.

You arent really communicating unless your recipient: hears your message understands it reacts to it
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Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

Once the message is clearly understood, it may trigger one of several effects: Change attitudes Crystallize attitudes Create a wedge of doubt Do nothing at all

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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Public relations professionals make their living by knowing how to communicate desired meanings. Hone your expertise in this area.
Performance must precede communication. Slick publications and winning websites many capture the publics attention, but proper performance is the only key towards winning continued public support.

Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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Steve Jobs iPology Review this case on p. 56. As a class, discuss: How would you assess, in public relations terms, Apples original decision to lower the price of the iPhone? What do you think of Apples solution to its iPhone problem, and how do you assess Steve Jobs communication about it? For more information on this case, go to: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/appleintroduces-the-ipology
Copyright 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall

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