Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver Model of Communication: Definition & Application

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  • 0:03 SMCR Model Components
  • 1:43 SMCR Process
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The sender-message-channel-receiver model of communication is communication at its most basic. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this model, who originated it, and where it's most commonly seen.

SMCR Model Components

You turn on the television and plop down on the couch. You're treated to dozens of advertisements, ranging from hair care products to the most modern hybrid vehicles. Unlike today's more modern forms of communication, like social media where you can engage in a two-way conversation with your favorite brands, you simply sit back and take in all the messages eager companies are sending your way. Television advertising is a one-way, linear form of communication and is a good example of the sender-message-channel-receiver model.

The sender-message-channel-receiver (SMCR) model of communication, sometimes called the Berlo model, is the most basic form of communication we engage in today. It's really less of a ''model,'' and more of an identification of the parts of communication as a whole.

The SMCR model relies on four key elements:

  1. Sender - This is the person who originates the message
  2. Message - The content that is being communicated
  3. Channel - The medium being used to transmit the message
  4. Receiver - The person who the message is directed toward

This model was first developed in 1960 by David Berlo, a theoretician and founder of the communications department at Michigan State University. It's used in television advertising, newspaper and magazine ads, and even some types of social media.

Berlo's model could be summarized as a sender delivering a message through a platform to a recipient. Two actions are inherent in this model:

  • Encoding happens on the sender's end, involving the way in which the message is transmitted; and

  • The receiver must decode the message through the channel that was used

Noticeably absent in the SMCR model is any feedback loop (feedback from the recipient back to the sender).

SMCR Process

The SMCR model does take into account the intent, emotion, and knowledge of both the sender and receiver in the process:

1. Sender

The person or entity at the source of the message can more effectively communicate their message with good communication skills. How the message is encoded is also affected by the sender's attitude and knowledge of what they're trying to convey.

Even things like cultural background, or values and beliefs, can have a bearing on how a sender compiles a message. For example, a company like McDonald's may approach advertising in the United States differently than advertising for its restaurants in the Middle East. That's because there are different beliefs and cultural values that can color how a message is put together.

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