Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Communication Theories

During the 2008 Elections, I noticed than many peoples' opinions on the presidential candidates, and the whom they voted for constantly changed between the Primaries and the General Election. No matter how fit or unfit a candidate was to lead this country, America still chose to support the candidates that they could relate to the most and who shared mutual values. With this being said, many Americans from all demographics had different perceptions on each candidates' morals, objectives, foreign & economic policies. Many Americans felt that the Gulf War was the greatest concern compared to others thinking that the global economic recession was more important.

After the Primaries, there was a lot of speculation about who would better represent the United States. Each candidate openly exclaimed what their top 5 concerns that they planned to address immediately on their first day in the Oval Office. The three month period before the General Election was very dull and the news was redundant. There was relatively no new information about either candidate. However, during the Summer and early Fall last year, Many celebrities and well-known politicians were endorsing each candidate. President Obama was considered to be a celebrity ONLY because he was the most popular candidate. Major endorsements for President Obama were Oprah Winfrey, Ex-Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell (Former Republican), Paris Hilton, Will Ferrell, Chelsea Handler, and the list goes on forever. Major idolized celebrities have more power of persuasion than the experts on CNN or MSNBC. This method of politics supports Katz & Lazarsfeld's Model of 1955, which found that the political messages sent over any medium had little effect on voting decisions. People have minds of their own and are influence more by opinion leaders (i.e. celebrities, politicians, family, and friends) than mass media.

Celebrity endorsements are not always good politics.
List of Obama Endorsements


  1. Communication according to me is a way of expressing your ideas, thoughts, and or views effectively to the person concerned. It involves encoding and sending messages, receiving and decoding them, and synthesizing the information received and interpreting its correct meaning. As in every other field communication is important for organizations as well. A company is only successful when its communication strategy is closely aligned with its business strategy. The company’s corporate communication strategy should support its mission and vision. It does not matter if there are several departments or a few; it all comes down to a connection with the mission. It is the responsibility of communication professionals to provide a wide variety of services in any aspect of company communication from reputation management, corporate advertising and advocacy, media relations, marketing communications, investor relations, corporate social responsibility, government relations, and crisis management.
    I can cite one real-life experience which advises how important it is for an organization to have a communication theory in place. I used to work for a builders hardware manufacturing company which manufactures a high quality builders hardware products. The company is an ISO 9001: 2004, ISO 14001:1999, and ISO 18001:2004 certified which means that the company has to make sure of the quality of the product at every stage right from production to sales. The feedback in a communication model plays a very important role, since both the top level managers and the production-lines workers should have the exact information about the product to be produced and thus help in maintaining the quality of the product. A couple of years ago, one customer placed an order for 30,000 sets of Door handle and specially requested the finish of the product to be Chrome, the sales department was well aware of this information but failed to communicate this important piece of information, that the customer wants the product in Chrome finish rather than the default finish which was brass polish; to the production department and thus the company suffered a huge loss. In order to ensure such type of blunders do not occur in the future, the company now follows a Schramm’s Third Model which includes a feedback as well. Thus top-management ensures that production-line workers have exact information about the product to be produced through taking proper feedback whether they have understood the order specifications. Similarly the production-line workers reports directly to the managers about the daily production activity which in turn ensures quality of the product.


  2. I couldn't agree more with Chris about how media giants played a huge role in this past year's presidential election. Oprah Winfrey's and Howard Stern's endorsements of Barak Obama no doubt made a positive contribution to his campaign.

  3. I agree with Chris but I do not have much experience and knowledge about U.S. politics. But would like to emphasize on the fact that the media these days plays a very important role in highligting the strengths and weakness of the candidates and can overturn any candidate.

  4. A recent experience in Kincaid's Convergence Model

    I had a very recent experience at work that is an excellent example of Kincaid's Convergence Model. It involves a recent communication from our management team to our employees regarding the restructuring of pay scale and health care benefits.

    Tough Economic Conditions

    Like many other businesses, my company has suffered from the recent global economic pinch. In order to remain competitive, we had to be willing to accept less money for the same types of projects we had been undertaking for the past few years. Common business sense dictates that if you have less income, it is logical to reduce spending and overhead cost to compensate. After long and hard deliberations, my partner and I elected to mandate an "across the board" pay cut of all employees, including ourselves. We also elected to slightly restructure our health benefits plan.

    Application of Kincaid's Convergence Model

    According to Kincaid's Model, our employees represent "Psychological Reality A", we as management represent "Psychological Reality B", and the numbers generated by the new economic conditions represent "Physical Reality." From the earliest discussions on the new mandate, we understood that our employee's perception of this issue would be much different than ours. Most of our personnel care much about our company and its survival, but on the other hand, they must look out for the survival of their own households. Instead of issuing what we felt would be a "cold hearted" memo, we called a face to face meeting with each person and explained the situation in great detail. We tried to remain as transparent as we could, while stressing the reality of the situation. We showed empathy toward them by taking the pay cuts ourselves. After many hours of individual consultations, we reached a mutual understanding with each employee working with us in our business. We feel we were successful in the matter because company morale does not seem to have declined. If we had been more abstract and less personable, it may have sent the wrong message to our people and could have set the stages for slow destruction from within due to eroded morale.

    Here is a great link showing that many businesses are adopting our same strategy.

  5. After reviewing the communications theories we covered in class, I decided to take a more in-depth look at the Westley Maclean mass communication theory. It can be a bit complicated, but I found a site that described it in simple terms that made a lot of sense. Basically, there are advocates (those who have something to say) and the audience whose attention they are trying to attract. Because of the huge volume of information advocates have to present, the gatekeepers (those who open and close the doors of communication between the advocates and the audience) must make decisions about what information gets to the audience. The communication loop between the audience and the gatekeeper serves as a means for understanding what the audience wants to hear and how they want to hear it. When the gatekeeper tells the advocate what they must do to make it past the gates, the communication loop between the gatekeeper and the advocate is formed. In other words, if you are a reporter for a major news outlet, you must report what your editor or producer has determined the audience wants to hear.

    This got me thinking about the ratings wars among some major network and cable news stations. I’ve watched all of them and have my own opinions. However, an article I read on the Internet by Michael Freeman in the Lakeland, Florida Ledger that discussed the current ratings situations for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News presented an interesting perspective which I think relates well to the mass communications theory model.

    CNN, which by some is considered non-partisan, is struggling in the ratings game. MSNBC leans to the left. Fox News, which claims to be fair and balanced by inviting left leaning personalities on the show, obviously leans to the right. Both of these news outlets typically do very well in the ratings. Freeman’s opinion is that they do so well, not because they’re “tough on the opposition, but because they're soft on the base.” Freeman calls what they do “political coverage as partisan cheerleader, not news gatherer.” As I said, I’ve watched these networks, and felt the same way, but could never really put it into words. Where is the real news in all of this? Obviously, the gatekeepers are opening the gates to what the audience (left or right) has indicated they want to hear, via the ratings system. Perhaps what they want to hear is what best “tickles their ears.”

  6. In Germany we got the information about the election for the president of the United States by newspaper, television or internet. Therefore, we could watch the election campaign from the distance. The well prepared election campaign speeches and TV duels of the Kanditaten were very imposing. So that the messages also could show their corresponding effect, the facial expression and gestures was also decisive besides the spoken word. In my opinion Barack Obama has a strong expression in his verbal language and in his body language. Besides its election campaign topics this surely helped him to the victor.

    Communication theories is a very scientific theme to workout. But I have researched a very interesting article about the beginning of gesture and speech.

    The step from gestures to speech happened quite recently. The scientists put the date at around 50,000 years ago. This seems like a mere yesterday in evolutionary terms. First there was primarily gestural with involuntary grunts and other vocal cries. Then the grammatical language started. But the gesture didn’t stop. Nowadays we can see people on cell phones who are use gesture although the interlocutors can’t see them.

    The whole article in The New York Times shows how different the meanings of the scientists are about the emergence of the speech. Although at first the gestures were surely available, the language – the spoken word – joined only a much later time.

    Nowadays a conversation or a lecture lives form gesture. I used increased facial expression and gestures to convince the audience of my point of view in my lectures and meetings. It turns out well to convince the audience with body language much more easily. The audience is tied into the topic so more easily.

    The topic from this chapter was picking up in an article from “The New York Times”, published May 18th 2002. Complete in electronic form – the link will give the whole article.

    “Some Language Experts Think Humans Spoke First With Gestures”

  7. Life Experience Example

    I think one of the most important things the communication theories have brought to business is the definition of feedback. Especially in modern times, instant feedback information from customers has enabled the practice of customized services and products. With a few clicks, a customer could deliver their feedback to Dell about what exactly they desire for PC machines. I used to work part-time in a private education group. They offered various education programs. In order to communicate effectively with their customer and thus provide better customized services, they set up a series of standard forms for customers to fill out in different stage during the serving process. For example, at the first stage, customers or potential customers would fill out forms by answering questions like what were the specific goals when they considering choosing the company. This could enable the company to find out the most suitable customized education program for each individual. After all the courses finished, customers would provide feedback about the degree of satisfaction about trainers or other services during the whole process, so that company could adjust services in accordance with customers’ needs.

    An article about instant feedback:

  8. Any professional or non-professional organization must establish its communication method through using media appropriately in order to achieve success in the intended field. The communication theory is the foundation of communication and the simplest form of it. The theory is all about relates that in any organization, there’s must be the existence of a source of information. This source is been utilized by sender that sends the valuable information to a receiver. We can split senders and receivers into categorizes starting from most important to least important. We have to bear in mind the means of media that we ought to use through an organization in order for the employees produce effectively.

    During my career as a bank manger in Saudi Arabia, I have establish the means of communication through media that I believed were the best for my employees to work effectively and avoid to waste time. I truly believed that time is money and since I used to work in a bank, everything needed to on time. During my first month, I have a meeting with staff to ask about what they think is the most effective way to communicate with them. The majority agreed that a weekly meeting would be a great way for sharing problems or if the administration have informed of a new regulation that I need to tell them about it. Also they suggested that if I communicate with through emails for minor issues. I worked for 2 successful years as a bank manger of the Arabic Bank.

    Through my story, I display the importance of communication through media and especially modern ones that many people have exposed to and know how to utilize in an organization. In order to do a job smoothly and effectively, you must determine your senders, receivers, and the means of media that would be used in your organization. This is one pillar you must acquire in order to succeed in the working life.

    For those who seek an effective communication for Marketing department, here the link for it.

  9. That’s a great point about US elections Chris. I was new to US when the election campaign was going. I had heard about neither Obama nor McCain. But personally if I would have right to vote here I would have gone for Obama because the way he made his campaign, I feel he did right kind of mass communication.

    As per my experience in regarding this topic I would like to share an incident regarding importance of body language in communication,
    When I gave my interview for Cipla pharmaceutical after my undergraduate, there was only one vacancy and there where four people for final interview. All we had to do in final interview was just prepare details of the medicine given by them (just a short one) and present in front of them as you are doing detailing in front of a doctor. I and one of the other 3 were selected and told that there was a distinguishing point in us, which was appropriate gestures along with our speech which hold a listener with you.
    So, this is a very raw example but the message that I want to convey from my experience is that, no matter how well a person speaks but gestures and postures are required for making a communication active. A person is seen first and then he is listened.

  10. After readings Faye’s comments it got me thinking about the affects advocates have on the opinions of the general public. The Westley-MacLean model focuses on advocates roles in communication. In today’s world we have experts on everything whether its economics, medicine, business, et cetera. There is so much information out there that we almost have to rely on the experts especially with finance. People tune in everyday to watch shows to try to figure out the best financial moves in attempt to gain positive returns. Financial analyst or advocates decipher vast amounts of information and presents their ideas on what people should do. In some cases these advocates can serve as manipulators. If financial analyst say buy, people buy. This causes the price to fluctuate because it unnaturally affects supply and demand. In this case by the time advocates express their opinions on what people should do with their finances, the information almost becomes irrelevant. This is just one example of the limitations of the advocates in the Westley-Maclean model.

    Suggested Links
    The following link is an interesting article deals with written communications.

  11. I appreciate the deep understanding of my group members about the importance of communication in success of any organization.

    According to me communication means sharing information with other individual or group. Effective communication should always be two sided. A feedback loop is very important in communication. Communication theory is the basis of understanding human behavior. Communication permeates all levels of human experience and it is central to understanding human behavior. Communication can be studied at different level of interaction. Communication can be intra-personnel, inter-personnel, formal, informal, or mass communication.

    My Experience:

    I was working in Nokia during my internship. Nokia believe that customers are the start and end of everything company do. They believe that there is no innovation without customer involvement and there is no new customer without innovation. For this purpose Nokia is using the platform called “Nokia concept lounge”. This platform provides space to share ideas and thought over future concept. This is a wonderful experience for me. Every consumer is given a chance to share his technology with Nokia. Consumers became engineers during this concept lounge. Nokia used this concept lounge to communicate with its customers and to determine what they expect from Nokia in future. One of the expectations that customers have is that they want Nokia to develop their visual communication to such an extend that they can feel their presence anywhere without physically going there. Nokia always deliver what they think about the style of future communication through its product. Take the example of Nokia 888 communicator, a concept design that won Nokia's Benelux design contest. The bracelet-like 888 is envisioned to use a liquid battery and dozens of functions. Nokia is also using a concept of visual communication. It means passing information through visual form. Nokia explores the idea that a visual message with text has a greater power to inform, educate or persuade a person. Through its communication style Nokia is able to remain one of the pioneers in mobile industry.