Communication Channels in Public Relations


A PR professional's job is to communicate messages to particular groups of people in strategic ways to build, maintain, and fix relationships with publics. To do so, we need to use the appropriate communication channels and strategic tactics to best communicate our message.

Think about it this way. Let's say you need to break up with a dating partner. We know the task: end the relationship. You know what has to happen at the end of the message for the message to be successful. Part of what you need to do is evaluate the correct channel for the message. Face-to-face? Text? Email? What'sApp? YouTube publicly posted video? Facebook post? Tweet? Some of these are better, some of these are terrible. Imagine being broken up with via public Facebook post. Yikes.

Our first task (after determining the end-goal of the communication) is to think about the correct channel for this public. If the public doesn't communicate with a particular channel, that's obviously not going to be a good way to send a message (or receive feedback).

Go back to the breakup example: If you broke up with someone via What's App and they don't have a What'sApp, the message would not be successful.

After the simple question, "what channels do they have available" we need to answer "what channel is best?"

For a breakup: Texting is easier on me, but maybe harder on the person who is being broken up with. Phone call may be good and appropriate if it's a long-distance relationship. Face-to-face is typically associated with the best way.

After you select the best channel for the purpose and public, you have to think about the best way to approach the message.

For a breakup: Do you go with blaming yourself? Do you say the relationship just isn't going where you want to go? Do you say you've found someone else? What is the truth, and how can you help the other person understand why the change is happening/the purpose of the message?

Then, you select your words. The words need to be specific enough that the public knows what they are supposed to do with the information afterward and has the relevant/necessary information.

When breaking up, you can't say, "you good?" and assume they'll know you're breaking up with them. You need to be clear enough with your words that they understand what's happening.

With this understanding in mind, let’s talk about broad categories of channels (PESO and 1-/2-way communication channels) and specifically walk through a list of available channels.