Friday, January 09, 2009

A Grunigian view of modern PR

Thinking through how PR can approach its online responsibilities one might want to use the1984 Grunig and Hunt model and it works quite well.

I have attempted to do it graphically and, no doubt you will want to change my perspective but I thought it time to extend the debate and examine some of the practical applications of social media that this view opens up.

(click on graphic for a full view)

The implications in terms of cost and control are, I think, relevant and important when advising clients. Being interactive does cost time on the one hand and having an effective website these days has high cost associated with design, production, hosting and management.

There is a myth about which claims that web2.0 use is low cost but the time and attention required is high but the effect seems disproportionately higher.

That is not to say that presentation is forfeit, far from it. A well designed blog is all the more readable and appealing as long as it is not crowded by bling and advertising.

Perhaps too, there is a consideration on the effect of using different channels.  Certainly there seems to be greater internal and external engagement as organisations move toward the two-way model but at the extreme the case is less well made. Moving in that direction has its advantages but it needs to be progressive.

One gets an impression that as an organisation moves towards two-way symmetrical communication combined with high levels of community interaction (and per force less involvement as a proportion of total activity by the organisation - think Facebook, YouTube, Linux, Procter and Gamble) there is a tendency towards higher performance in terms of long term sustainable organisational growth. The reverse is also true (do banks fall into this category?).

To enlarge the thinking....

It would seem that, as a generality, the further one gets towards two-way symmetrical, the more growth and corporate sustainability one can expect.

There is precedent for this kind of thinking. 

Taking a long historical view, the political systems that are more open and interactive have tended to last longer and brought more wealth to people.
Companies like IBM have re-engineered themselves in this way and have become stronger for it (Microsoft's reputation changed dramatically after Robert Scoble opened up the company). There are also the examples offered by Clay Shirky in his book 'Here Comes Everybody'.

The converse is true. Highly controlled political systems tend to have a finite life and the very closed companies suffer the same fate. A brief spectacular followed by a quick decline.