There are four models of public relations that were proposed by Grunig and Hunt. They are based on the historical events that are recognized as the indicators of different stages of evolution of the approach to the public relations. These models are still practiced in the contemporary world.
The first model is the press agentry or publicity. The primary purpose of this model is the creation and maintenance of propaganda for the influence on the members of general public. This model is characterized as the oldest; it was majorly based on fictional stories with little relevance to the reality. It may be currently applied in product promotion and such industries as sports and show business.
The second model is the public information model, and its main characteristic is that it is based on telling the truth. It may be used in business and employed by the governmental or non-profit organizations since being trusted is one of the most important values for them as agencies.
The two-way asymmetric model is the third one, and it relies on the approach to public relations as a scientific endeavor. This model is based on the persuasion strategies, different approaches to the production of effect on the members of general public, and the reliability of facts (Laskin 37).
Finally, the two-way symmetric model is based on the perspective that the public relations carry out counseling functions. This model is the most recent.
How the Models Were Created
The press agentry/ publicity model dates back to 1850s and 1900s when the purpose of public relations was viewed mainly as the creation of the promotional stories to raise the public interest. This model is associated with Phineas T. Barnum, a showman and a press agent who, alongside his contemporaries sharing this perspective, was focused on the influence of the stories but not their validity.
The public information model is the second evolutionary step in public relations that dates back to the 1900s and is linked to the historical figure of Ivy Ledbetter Lee. As indicated by its title, the model was created the provision of the valuable and trustworthy information to the press and the public for the purpose to keep the interested individuals and groups well-informed.
The two-way asymmetric model was created in the 1920s under the impact of the event of the World War I and the need for a more sophisticated form of propaganda in the American society recognized by George Creel, among the other influential individuals of the time.
The two-way symmetric model appeared in the 1960s-1970s and a specific historical figure behind it is difficult to identify because the model is quite rare in practice. However, it is possible to connect the activities of David Finn and Harold Burson as the actions advocating this model’s approach to public relations.
A Factor of Excellence
According to Laskin, the concept of excellence in public relations is based on such aspects as shared expectations, knowledge, and the participative culture (41). According to the inclusion of the three aspects, the fourth model (two-way symmetric) is considered to be the factor of excellence in communication management and public relations. However, this statement is mainly theoretical because in practice the two-way symmetrical and two-way asymmetrical models are not usually used by the organizations when it comes to public relations (Laskin 40).
Laskin, Alexander. “The Evolution of Models of Public Relations: an Outsider’s Perspective.” Journal of Communication Management, vol. 13, no. 1, 2009. pp. 37-54