The Communication Grid by Betteke van Ruler identifies four strategies of public relations practice: information, persuasion, consensus-building and dialogue. These four strategies constitute the tool-kit of public relations. Anyone who manages an organisation’s communications can use individual strategies to resolve specific communication problems.
The Communication Grid
The grid has four squares that each represent an individual strategy. The x-axis has revealing on one side and influence on the other. The y-axis represents controlled one-way traffic and two-way traffic.
The square bounded by monitored one-way traffic and revealing provides the information strategy. It is about providing information to help people forming opinions or decisions. Press releases and public relations materials for example, are materials often made just to inform. The information strategy demands a well-rounded policy, an informative message and an aware information seeking public.
The square that is bounded by monitored one-way traffic and influencing provides the persuasion strategy. This is the basis of advertising, propaganda and corporate communication. This strategy targets the knowledge, attitude and behaviour of specified others. It demands a persuasive message and a latent public.
The square bounded by two-way traffic and influence provides the consensus-building strategy. It deals with building bridges between organization and environment or between employees. The consensus-building strategy can be deployed when there are conflicting interests at stake among interdependent parties. It advocates an active public, clear negotiations and room in the policy development process of the organization.
The square bounded by two-way traffic and revealing provides the dialogue strategy. This facilitates interactive policy-making and socially responsible enterprising. The strategy can also be used to effectively handle job discussions, small-scale brainstorming and collecting possible solutions to a problem. It requires informational messages from both sides and an aware public.