Models for Public Relations: Grunig-Hunt

Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

We have all picked up a publication at one time in our lives. But how many of us really give much thought about the method used to get the information out to us? In this lesson we will learn about the four methods of public relations.

A First Look at Public Relations Models

Have you ever wondered how truthful the articles you read or the speeches you hear are? Are the stories being reported really accurate? Are they trying to tell the truth, or do they purposely mislead their audience? Well, I am sure we can all name a few tabloids that write articles for the public that are less than honest, and I am sure most of us can agree that the nightly news we watch before bed does their best to convey the most accurate facts.

In this lesson we will learn about the different public relations models many professionals use to convey stories and information to the public. Specifically, we will learn about those developed by James Grunig and Todd Hunt.

Foundation Definitions

Public relations is the act of conveying an image that the public will accept. To get the information out to the public, public relations professionals use one of four models created by James Grunig, a practicing public relations professional for numerous years, and Todd Hunt, co-creator of the four models in use today.

Public Relations Models

Like I mentioned before, today's public relations professional has the responsibility to get information to the public. How accurate that information is depends on the model they choose to utilize. Below you will find the four models of public relations and a list of those that may use them.

1. Press agentry model -- This is the type of model that does not worry about the truth, but rather is used to influence or persuade the audience regardless of how accurate the information is. This means that those utilizing this model strive to manipulate behavior and do not do any research. This type of model is known as a one-way communication because the information comes from the public relations individual and goes to the public with the purpose of trying to influence the audience.

Those that use this type of model consist of companies and individuals that want to sell their products regardless of the truth. For example, a company wanting to sell a weight-loss drink will promise that the drink will help you lose 15 pounds overnight. However, no research is conducted and they will say anything to make you believe the product works.

2. Public information model -- Like the press agent model, the public information model also is considered a one-way communication method. The one real difference, though, is that although research is still not conducted, those using this model attempt to convey more accurate information. It is considered more ethical then the press agentry model and is often used when creating brochures and press releases, for example. The government and universities are likely to use this method as a way to simply communicate some type of message to the public.

An example might be a university saying it is a great place to grow and learn. Although it may not have the research to prove that growth happens, its administrators think it is a great place to grow.

3. Two-way asymmetrical model -- This is where we transition to a two-way communication model, meaning public relations gets the message out and then hears what the response is from the public. This is also where more research comes in. A popular form of the two-way asymmetric model is in sales and marketing. Companies want to get the information out to their consumers so that they buy their products.

For example, a company might do research on certain products so that they can convey the first communication by advertising to their target consumers. The second communication comes in the form of customers buying or not buying the products. Another example might be doing research to see what stakeholders want.

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