Public Relations Practices

Image: Edward Bernays, the Father of PR and mass propaganda.

“The elements of Public Relations are to inform, persuade, and integrate people with people has been as constant as the society. However, in order to accomplish the means, the processes have changed and so did the society.”

Edward L. Bernays
(Source Link:

A Public Relations professional today is a ‘Jack of all trades”, skilled in several fields and disciplines. In order to truly qualify as a professional, the first step is specialization.

Specialization is the first step towards professionalism. This helps one eliminate the “Master of None” drawback. The narrower the domain, the deeper runs the information. And the depth of knowledge creates a discipline in both theory and execution.

Professors Hunt and Grunig, 1984 developed the four important models of Public Relations. Based on these frameworks, PR strategies, programs and campaigns are developed. However elaborate, the basic structure of these campaigns circle back to one of Hunt and Grunig’s frameworks.

Press Agentry Model
Image credit: Toughsledding

The Press Agentry Model is a one-way publicity model. The concentration of effort in this model is directed toward gaining maximum coverage from the media. However, communication is one-directional. Hence, there is an absence of feedback in this framework. Created by PT Barnum. Drawbacks are lack of research, use of persuasion and a propagandist approach. Also, this model does not deem ethics, informational accuracy, and facts to be necessary. An inflated version of the truth is disseminated. Usually used in promoting sporting activities like boxing.

Public Information Model
Image credit: Toughsledding

The Public Information Model is once again a one-way approach. Here, the PR professional plays the pseudo-reporter. Again, the information is uni-directional but there is the emphasis laid on accuracy and fact.

This model was developed by Ivy Lee, an early PR expert. Used mostly, in government and NGOs.

Indian Railways introduced a ‘baby berth’ in sleeper coaches on account of Mothers’ Day to allow mothers to travel comfortably with their infants. Noted Journalist Faye D’souza tweeted, “No moms were consulted in the making of this baby berth.”
Although the measure was a well-intentioned introduction, it draw much flak from its target group – mothers who felt it unsafe to place a child on the outer edge of the bed.

In 2022, Indian Railways introduced the ‘baby-berth’ on the occasion of Mothers’ Day
Image Credit:

The Two-way Asymmetrical Model is an attempt at a mutual understanding and connection between the organization and its public. “Scientific persuasion” uses research to direct effort toward conveying the organization’s narrative to stakeholders groups. Although the least practised model, it is used mostly by businesses and corporations.

The Two-way Symmetrical Model is a mutual framework of information give and take. The parties forge a bi-directional relationship, where information flows both ways. The model is highly preferred by Hunt and Grnig themselves, seconded by Edward Bernays and other prominent communicators. Feedback is an essential element and is widely used in the communication of private organizations.

Public Relations has several frameworks to its credit. However, the best approach for modern PR is to plan, research effectively, back the facts with verified sources, and disseminate information smoothly with constant consideration of the feedback.

Additional: To explore a refreshing take on the Hunt and Grunig Models’ relevance by Prof. Trevor Morris at PR Week Magazine.

Author: Digital Onca

Digital Onca is a blog that documents the concepts of Digital Marketing and Public Relations. Digital Onca is the effort to stay with the times, understand more deeply, more closely the working of a digital space that is steadfastly emerging around us.

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