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ADORO INSTITUTE OF MULTIMEDIA
B.Sc ANIMATION, II SEM, STUDY MATERIAL
KARNATAKA STATE OPEN UNIVERSITY,
All of us know that man is a social animal. He cannot survive in isolation. As a member
of the society he is dependant on others. For most of the things he has to take help from others.
But the question is, how does one know what the other wants? One has to convey his feelings,
thoughts, ideas, requirements, experiences, etc. to another in such a way that the latter
understands those correctly. The same thing happens with business also. It provides information
to the customers, government, owners, employees, etc. and at the same time receives information
from them. In this COURSE let us know, how people convey their feelings, thoughts, ideas,
Meaning of Communication
Communication may be defined as - “A process of sharing facts, ideas, opinions,
thoughts and information through speech, writing, gestures or symbols between two or more
persons”. This process of communication always contains messages, which are to be transmitted
between the parties. There are two parties - one is ‘Sender’, who sends the message and the other
‘Receiver’, who receives it. Generally the process of communication is said to be complete when
the receiver understands the message and gives the feedback or response. At road-crossings red
light of the traffic signal sends the message to stop the vehicle. When people stop their vehicles
by seeing the red light, it is the feedback or response. This feedback may be in any form. Even
while talking to your friend ‘nodding of the head’ is treated as feedback. Thus, feedback
becomes an essential element in the process of communication along with message, sender and
Hence ‘Communication Process’ includes the following elements:
Sender - The person who sends the message. Also known as the source.
Receiver - The person who receives the message.
Message - Subject matter of communication. It may contain facts, ideas, feelings or thoughts.
Feedback - Receiver’s response or reaction or reply to the message, which is directed
towards the sender.
This process can also be shown as follows:
For sending the message to the receiver or getting the feedback from the receiver we need a
medium, which is called as a medium or means of communication. It carries the message to the
receiver and brings the feedback from the receiver.
Types of Communication
When we talk to others or write to them, communication takes place between us. But for such a
communication, language is essential. Communication with the help of words is known as verbal
communication. Similarly when we meet our friends, we shake our hand with them. This also
conveys some meaning. This is an example of non-verbal communication. Communication
without any use of words is called non-verbal communication. Let us know further about these
Verbal communication is made through words, either spoken or written. Communication
through spoken words is known as oral communication, which may be in the form of lectures,
meetings, group discussions, conferences, telephonic conversations, radio message etc. In written
communication, message is transmitted through written words in the form of letters, memos,
circulars, notices, reports, manuals, magazines, handbooks, etc.
Non-verbal communication may be ‘Visual’, ‘Aural’ or ‘Gestural’. Sometimes you look into
some pictures, graphs, symbols, diagrams etc. and some message is conveyed to you. All these
are different forms of visual communication. For example, the traffic policeman showing the
stop sign, a teacher showing a chart of different animals are visual communication. Bells,
whistles, buzzers, horns etc. are also the instruments through which we can communicate our
message. Communication with the help of these type of sounds is called 'aural' communication.
For example, the bell used in schools and colleges to inform students and teachers about the
beginning or end of periods, siren used in factories to inform the change of work–shift of the
workers are examples of aural communication. Communication through the use of various parts
of the human body, or through body language is termed as gestural communication. Saluting our
national flag, motionless position during the singing of national anthem, waving of hands,
nodding of head, showing anger on face, etc. are examples of gestural communication.
Intext Questions 12.2
(A) Fill in the blanks with appropriate words:
(i) Communication with the help of words is known as _____________.
(ii) Communication through spoken words is known as _____________.
(iii) Communication through the use of various parts of human body is known as
(iv) Communication with the help of pirctures, symbols, diagrams etc. is known as
(B) Write ‘V’ to the phrase that illustrates Verbal Communication or ‘NV’ to the phrase
that illustrates Non Verbal Communication.
(i) A person reading a letter.
(ii) A teacher looking to a student with anger.
(iii) Saluting the national flag.
(iv) Talking to a shopkeeper
(v) Nodding head silently.
THEORIES AND MODELS OF COMMUNICATION
Communication theory is a field of information and mathematics that studies the
technical process of information and the human process of human communication. According to
communication theorist Robert T. Craig in his 1999's essay 'Communication Theory as a Field',
"despite the ancient roots and growing profusion of theories about communication," there is not a
field of study that can be identified as 'communication theory'.
Models of communication
The studies on information theory by Claude Elwood Shannon, Warren Weaver and others,
prompted research on new models of communication from other scientific perspectives like
psychology and sociology. In science, a model is a structure that represents a theory.
Scholars from disciplines different to mathematics and engineer began to take distance from the
Shannon and Weaver models as a 'transmissible model':
They developed a model of communication which was intended to assist in developing a
mathematical theory of communication. Shannon and Weaver's work proved valuable for
communication engineers in dealing with such issues as the capacity of various communication
channels in 'bits per second'. It contributed to computer science. It led to very useful work on
redundancy in language. And in making 'information' 'measurable' it gave birth to the
mathematical study of 'information theory'
— D. Chandler,
Harold Lasswell (1902–1978), a political scientist and communication theorist, was a member of
the Chicago school of sociology. In his work 'The Structure and Function of Communication in
Society' (1948) he defined the communication process as Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What
Channel (with) What Effect.
These first studies on communication's models promoted more researches on the topic. Wilbur
Lang Schramm (1907–1987), called by communication theorist Everett Rogers as the founder of
communication study, focused his studies on the experience of the sender and receiver (listener).
Communication is possible only upon a common language between sender and receiver.
In 1960, David Kenneth Berlo, a disciple of Schramm, expanded on Shannon and Weaver’s
linear model of communication and created the Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver Model of
communication (SMCR Model) exposed in his work The Process of Communication, where
communication appears as a regulated process that allows the subject to negotiate with his living
environment. Communication becomes, then, a value of power and influence (psychology of
Communication Theory as a Field- (R.T. Craig)
Although there exist many theories of communication (...) there is no consensus on
communication theory as a field."
In 1999 Craig wrote a landmark article. "Communication Theory as a Field" which
expanded the conversation regarding disciplinary identity in the field of communication. At that
time, communication theory textbooks had little to no agreement on how to present the field or
what theories to include in their textbooks. This article has since become the foundational
framework for four different textbooks to introduce the field of communication. In this article
Craig "proposes a vision for communication theory that takes a huge step toward unifying this
rather disparate field and addressing its complexities." To move toward this unifying vision
Craig focused on communication theory as a practical discipline and shows how "various
traditions of communication theory can be engaged in dialogue on the practice of
communication." In this deliberative process theorists would engage in dialog about the
"practical implications of communication theories." In the end Craig proposes seven different
traditions of Communication Theory and outlines how each one of them would engage the others
Elements of communication
Basic elements of communication made the object of study of the communication theory:
Source: Shannon calls it information source, which "produces a message or sequence of
messages to be communicated to the receiving terminal."
Sender: Shannon calls it transmitter, which "operates on the message in some way to
produce a signal suitable for transmission over the channel. In Aristotle it is the speaker
Channel: For Shannon it is "merely the medium used to transmit the signal from
transmitter to receiver.
Receiver: For Shannon the receiver "performs the inverse operation of that done by the
transmitter, reconstructing the message from the signal."
Destination: For Shannon destination is "the person (or thing) for whom the message is
Message: from Latin mittere, "to send". A concept, information, communication or
statement that is sent in a verbal, written or recorded form to the recipient.
CLASSICAL COMMUNICATION MODELS
1. Aristotle’s Model of Communication
2. Aristotle’s model of proof. Kinnevay also sees a model of communication in Aristotle’s
description of proof:
a. Logos, inheres in the content or the message itself
b. Pathos, inheres in the audience
c. Ethos, inheres in the speaker
3. Bitzer’s Rhetorical Situation. Lloyd Bitzer developed described the “Rhetorical
Situation,” which, while not a model, identifies some of the classical components of a
communication situation (“The Rhetorical Situation,” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 1 (Winter,
Bitzer defines the “rhetorical situation” as “a complex of persons, events,
objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be
completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can
so constrain human decision or action so as to bring about significant
modification of the exigence.”
See more of Bitzer's approach here.
E. Early Linear Models
1. The Shannon-Weaver Mathematical Model, 1949
i. Claude Shannon, an engineer for the Bell Telephone Company, designed the most
influential of all early communication models. His goal was to formulate a theory to guide the
efforts of engineers in finding the most efficient way of transmitting electrical signals from one
location to another (Shannon and Weaver, 1949). Later Shannon introduced a mechanism in the
receiver which corrected for differences between the transmitted and received signal; this
monitoring or correcting mechanism was the forerunner of the now widely used concept of
feedback (information which a communicator gains from others in response to his own verbal
i. This model, or a variation on it, is the most common communication model used in low-
level communication texts.
ii. Significant development. “Within a decade a host of other disciplines—many in the
behavioral sciences—adapted it to countless interpersonal situations, often distorting it or
making exaggerated claims for its use.”
iii. “Taken as an approximation of the process of human communication.”
iv. Significant heuristic value.
1.) With only slight changes in terminology, a number of nonmathematical schemas have
elaborated on the major theme. For example, Harold Lasswell (1948) conceived of analyzing the
mass media in five stages: “Who?” “Says what?” “In which channel?” “To whom?” “With what
effect?” In apparent elaboration on Lasswell and/or Shannon and Weaver, George Gerbner
(1956) extended the components to include the notions of perception, reactions to a situation, and
v. The concepts of this model became staples in communication research
1.) Entropy-the measure of uncertainty in a system. “Uncertainty or entropy increases in exact
proportion to the number of messages from which the source has to choose. In the simple matter
of flipping a coin, entropy is low because the destination knows the probability of a coin’s
turning up either heads or tails. In the case of a two-headed coin, there can be neither any
freedom of choice nor any reduction in uncertainty so long as the destination knows exactly what
the outcome must be. In other words, the value of a specific bit of information depends on the
probability that it will occur. In general, the informative value of an item in a message decreases
in exact proportion to the likelihood of its occurrence.”
2.) Redundancy-the degree to which information is not unique in the system. “Those items in a
message that add no new information are redundant. Perfect redundancy is equal to total
repetition and is found in pure form only in machines. In human beings, the very act of repetition
changes, in some minute way, the meaning or the message and the larger social significance of
the event. Zero redundancy creates sheer unpredictability, for there is no way of knowing what
items in a sequence will come next. As a rule, no message can reach maximum efficiency unless
it contains a balance between the unexpected and the predictable, between what the receiver
must have underscored to acquire understanding and what can be deleted as extraneous.”
3.) Noise-the measure of information not related to the message. “Any additional signal that
interferes with the reception of information is noise. In electrical apparatus noise comes only
from within the system, whereas in human activity it may occur quite apart from the act of
transmission and reception. Interference may result, for example, from background noise in the
immediate surroundings, from noisy channels (a crackling microphone), from the organization
and semantic aspects of the message (syntactical and semantical noise), or from psychological
interference with encoding and decoding. Noise need not be considered a detriment unless it
produces a significant interference with the reception of the message. Even when the disturbance
is substantial, the strength of the signal or the rate of redundancy may be increased to restore
4.) Channel Capacity-the measure of the maximum amount of information a channel can carry.
“The battle against uncertainty depends upon the number of alternative possibilities the message
eliminates. Suppose you wanted to know where a given checker was located on a checkerboard.
If you start by asking if it is located in the first black square at the extreme left of the second row
from the top and find the answer to be no, sixty-three possibilities remain-a high level of
uncertainty. On the other hand, if you first ask whether it falls on any square at the top half of the
board, the alternative will be reduced by half regardless of the answer. By following the first
strategy it could be necessary to ask up to sixty-three questions (inefficient indeed!); but by
consistently halving the remaining possibilities, you will obtain the right answer in no more than
vi. Provided an influential yet counter-intuitive definition of communication.
Information is a measure of uncertainty, or entropy, in a situation. The greater the
uncertainty, the more the information. When a situation is completely predictable, no
information is present. Most people associate information with certainty or knowledge;
consequently, this definition from information theory can be confusing. As used by the
information theorist, the concept does not refer to a message, facts, or meaning. It is a concept
bound only to the quantification of stimuli or signals in a situation.
On closer examination, this idea of information is not as distant from common sense as it
first appears. We have said that information is the amount of uncertainty in the situation. Another
way of thinking of it is to consider information as the number of messages required to
completely reduce the uncertainty in the situation. For example, your friend is about to flip a
coin. Will it land heads up or tails up? You are uncertain, you cannot predict. This uncertainty,
which results from the entropy in the situation, will be eliminated by seeing the result of the flip.
Now let’s suppose that you have received a tip that your friend’s coin is two headed. The flip is
“fixed.” There is no uncertainty and therefore no information. In other words, you could not
receive any message that would make you predict any better than you already have. In short, a
situation with which you are completely familiar has no information for you [emphasis added].
vii. See Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1949). For a number of excellent brief secondary sources,
see the bibliography. Two sources were particularly helpful in the preparation of this chapter:
Allan R. Broadhurst and Donald K. Darnell, “An Introduction to Cybernetics and Information
Theory,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 51 (1965): 442-53; Klaus Krippendorf, “Information
Theory,” in Communication and Behavior, ed. G. Hanneman and W. McEwen (Reading, Mass.:
Addison-Wesley, 1975), 351-89.
i. Not analogous to much of human communication.
1.) “Only a fraction of the information conveyed in interpersonal encounters can be taken as
remotely corresponding to the teletype action of statistically rare or redundant signals.”
2.) “Though Shannon’s technical concept of information is fascinating in many respects, it
ranks among the least important ways of conceiving of what we recognize as “information.” “
ii. Only formal—does not account for content
1.) Mortensen: “Shannon and Weaver were concerned only with technical problems associated
with the selection and arrangement of discrete units of information—in short, with purely formal
matters, not content. Hence, their model does not apply to semantic or pragmatic dimensions of
2.) Theodore Roszak provides a thoughtful critique of Shannon’s model in The Cult of
Information. Roszak notes the unique way in which Shannon defined information:
Once, when he was explaining his work to a group of prominent scientists
who challenged his eccentric definition, he replied, “I think perhaps the
word ‘information’ is causing more trouble . . . than it is worth, except that
it is difficult to find another word that is anywhere near right. It should be
kept solidly in mind that [information] is only a measure of the difficulty
in transmitting the sequences produced by some information source”
3.) As Roszak points out, Shannon’s model has no mechanism for distinguishing important
ideas from pure non-sense:
In much the same way, in its new technical sense, information has come to
denote whatever can be coded for transmission through a channel that
connects a source with a receiver, regardless of semantic content. For
Shannon’s purposes, all the following are “information”:
E = mc2
Thou shalt not kill.
I think, therefore I am.
Phillies 8, Dodgers 5
‘Twas brillig and the slithy roves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
And indeed, these are no more or less meaningful than any string of
haphazard bits (x!9#44jGH?566MRK) I might be willing to pay to have
telexed across the continent.
As the mathematician Warren Weaver once put it, explaining “the strange
way in which, in this theory, the word ‘information’ is used .... It is
surprising but true that, from the present viewpoint, two messages, one
heavily loaded with meaning and the other pure nonsense, can be
equivalent as regards information” [emphasis added].
iii. Static and Linear
1.) Mortensen: “Finally, the most serious shortcoming of the Shannon-Weaver communication
system is that it is relatively static and linear. It conceives of a linear and literal transmission of
information from one location to another. The notion of linearity leads to misleading ideas when
transferred to human conduct; some of the problems can best be underscored by studying several
alternative models of communication.”
2. Berlo’s S-M-C-R, 1960
i. Ehninger, Gronbeck and Monroe: “The simplest and most influential message-centered
model of our time came from David Berlo (Simplified from David K. Berlo, The Process of
Communication (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1960)):”
ii. Essentially an adaptation of the Shannon-Weaver model.
b. Significant after World War II because:
i. The idea of “source” was flexible enough to include oral, written, electronic, or any other
kind of “symbolic” generator-of-messages.
ii. “Message” was made the central element, stressing the transmission of ideas.
iii. The model recognized that receivers were important to communication, for they were the
iv. The notions of “encoding” and “decoding” emphasized the problems we all have (psycho-
linguistically) in translating our own thoughts into words or other symbols and in deciphering the
words or symbols of others into terms we ourselves can understand.
i. Tends to stress the manipulation of the message—the encoding and decoding processes
ii. it implies that human communication is like machine communication, like signal-sending in
telephone, television, computer, and radar systems.
iii. It even seems to stress that most problems in human communication can be solved by
technical accuracy-by choosing the “right” symbols, preventing interference, and sending
iv. But even with the “right” symbols, people misunderstand each other. “Problems in
“meaning” or “meaningfulness” often aren’t a matter of comprehension, but of reaction, of
agreement, of shared concepts, beliefs, attitudes, values. To put the com- back into
communication, we need a meaning-centered theory of communication.”
3. Schramm’s Interactive Model, 1954
Wilbur Schramm (1954) was one of the first to alter the mathematical model of Shannon and
Weaver. He conceived of decoding and encoding as activities maintained simultaneously by
sender and receiver; he also made provisions for a two-way interchange of messages. Notice also
the inclusion of an “interpreter” as an abstract representation of the problem of meaning.
i. Schramm provided the additional notion of a “field of experience,” or the psychological
frame of reference; this refers to the type of orientation or attitudes which interactants maintain
toward each other.
ii. Included Feedback
1.) Communication is reciprocal, two-way, even though the feedback may be delayed.
a.) Some of these methods of communication are very direct, as when you talk in direct
response to someone.
b.) Others are only moderately direct; you might squirm when a speaker drones on and on,
wrinkle your nose and scratch your head when a message is too abstract, or shift your body
position when you think it’s your turn to talk.
c.) Still other kinds of feedback are completely indirect.
2.) For example,
a.) politicians discover if they’re getting their message across by the number of votes cast on
the first Tuesday in November;
b.) commercial sponsors examine sales figures to gauge their communicative effectiveness in
c.) teachers measure their abilities to get the material across in a particular course by seeing
how many students sign up for it the next term.
iii. Included Context
1.) A message may have different meanings, depending upon the specific context or setting.
2.) Shouting “Fire!” on a rifle range produces one set of reactions-reactions quite different from
those produced in a crowded theater.
iv. Included Culture
1.) A message may have different meanings associated with it depending upon the culture or
society. Communication systems, thus, operate within the confines of cultural rules and
expectations to which we all have been educated.
v. Other model designers abstracted the dualistic aspects of communication as a series of
“loops,” (Mysak, 1970), “speech cycles” (Johnson, 1953), “co-orientation” (Newcomb, 1953),
and overlapping “psychological fields” (Fearing, 1953).
i. Schramm’s model, while less linear, still accounts for only bilateral communication
between two parties. The complex, multiple levels of communication between several sources is
beyond this model.
F. Non-linear Models
1. Dance’s Helical Spiral, 1967
i. Depicts communication as a dynamic process. Mortensen: “The helix represents the way
communication evolves in an individual from his birth to the existing moment.”
ii. Dance: “At any and all times, the helix gives geometrical testimony to the concept that
communication while moving forward is at the same moment coming back upon itself and being
affected by its past behavior, for the coming curve of the helix is fundamentally affected by the
curve from which it emerges. Yet, even though slowly, the helix can gradually free itself from its
lower-level distortions. The communication process, like the helix, is constantly moving forward
and yet is always to some degree dependent upon the past, which informs the present and the
future. The helical communication model offers a flexible communication process”
i. Mortensen: “As a heuristic device, the helix is interesting not so much for what it says as
for what it permits to be said. Hence, it exemplifies a point made earlier: It is important to
approach models in a spirit of speculation and intellectual play.”
ii. Chapanis (1961) called “sophisticated play:”
The helix implies that communication is continuous, unrepeatable, additive,
and accumulative; that is, each phase of activity depends upon present forces
at work as they are defined by all that has occurred before. All experience
contributes to the shape of the unfolding moment; there is no break in the
action, no fixed beginning, no pure redundancy, no closure. All
communicative experience is the product of learned, nonrepeatable events
which are defined in ways the organism develops to be self-consistent and
socially meaningful. In short, the helix underscores the integrated aspects of
all human communication as an evolving process that is always turned inward
in ways that permit learning, growth, and discovery.
i. May not be a model at all: too few variables.
Mortensen: “If judged against conventional scientific standards, the helix does
not fare well as a model. Indeed, some would claim that it does not meet the
requirements of a model at all. More specifically, it is not a systematic or
formalized mode of representation. Neither does it formalize relationships or
isolate key variables. It describes in the abstract but does not explicitly explain
or make particular hypotheses testable.”
ii. Generates Questions, but leaves much unaswered.
Mortensen: “For example, does not the helix imply a false degree of
continuity from one communicative situation to another? Do we necessarily
perceive all encounters as actually occurring in an undifferentiated, unbroken
sequence of events? Does an unbroken line not conflict with the human
experience of discontinuity, intermittent periods, false starts, and so forth? Is
all communication a matter of growth, upward and onward, in an ever-
broadening range of encounters? If the helix represents continuous learning
and growth, how can the same form also account for deterioration and decay?
What about the forces of entropy, inertia, decay, and pathology? And does not
the unbroken line of a helix tacitly ignore the qualitative distinctions that
inevitably characterize different communicative events? Also, what about
movements which we define as utterly wasted, forced, or contrived? Along
similar lines, how can the idea of continuous, unbroken growth include events
we consider meaningless, artificial, or unproductive? Countless other
questions could be raised. And that is the point. The model brings problems of
abstraction into the open. “rtificial, or unproductive? Countless other
questions could be raised. And that is the point. The model brings problems of
abstraction into the open. “
2. Westley and MacLean’s Conceptual Model, 1957
i. Westley and MacLean realized that communication does not begin when one person starts
to talk, but rather when a person responds selectively to his immediate physical surroundings.
ii. Each interactant responds to his sensory experience (X1 . . . ) by abstracting out certain
objects of orientation (X1 . . . 3m). Some items are selected for further interpretation or coding
(X’) and then are transmitted to another person, who may or may not be responding to the same
objects of orientation (X,b),
A conceptual model of
with permission from
Westley and MacLean, Jr.,
(a) Objects of orientation
(X1 ... X) in the sensory
field of the receiver (B) are
transmitted directly to him
in abstracted form (XZ ...
X3) after a process of
selection from among all
Xs, such selection being
based at least in part on the
needs and problems of B.
Some or all messages are
transmitted in more than
one sense (X3m, for
(b) The same Xs are
selected and abstracted by
communicator A and
transmitted as a message
(x') to B, who may or may
not have part or all of the
Xs in his own sensory field
(X1b). Whether on purpose
or not, B transmits feedback
(fBA) to A.
(c) The Xs that B receives
may result from selected
abstractions which are
transmitted without purpose
by encoder C, who acts for
B and thus extends B's
environment. C's selections
are necessarily based in part
on feedback (fBC) from B.
(d) The messages which C
transmits to B (x") represent
C's selections both from the
messages he gets from A
(x') and from the
abstractions in his own
sensory field (X3c, X4),
which may or may not be in
A's field. Feedback moves
not only from B to A (fBA)
and from B to C (fBC) but
also from C to A (fCA).
Clearly, in mass
communication, a large
number of Cs receive from
a very large number of As
and transmit to a vastly
larger number of Bs, who
messages from other Cs.
i. Accounts for Feedback
ii. Accounts for a sensory field or, in Newcomb’s (1953) words, “objects of co-orientation.”
iii. Accounts for non-binary interactions—more than just two people communicating directly.
iv. Accounts for different modes. E.g. interpersonal vs. mass mediated communication.
i. Westley and MacLean’s model accounts for many more variables in the typical
communication interaction. It is, however, still two-dimensional. It cannot account for the
multiple dimensions of the typical communication event involving a broad context and multiple
3. Becker’s Mosaic Model, 1968
i. Mortensen: “Becker assumes that most communicative acts link message elements from
more than one social situation. In the tracing of various elements of a message, it is clear that the
items may result in part from a talk with an associate, from an obscure quotation read years
before, from a recent TV commercial, and from numerous other dissimilar situations—moments
of introspection, public debate, coffee-shop banter, daydreaming, and so on. In short, the
elements that make up a message ordinarily occur in bits and pieces. Some items are separated
by gaps in time, others by gaps in modes of presentation, in social situations, or in the number of
ii. Mortensen: “Becker likens complex communicative events to the activity of a receiver who
moves through a constantly changing cube or mosaic of information . The layers of the cube
correspond to layers of information. Each section of the cube represents a potential source of
information; note that some are blocked out in recognition that at any given point some bits of
information are not available for use. Other layers correspond to potentially relevant sets of
b. Strengths (from Mortensen)
i. It depicts the incredible complexity of communication as influenced by a constantly
ii. It also accounts for variations in exposure to messages. In some circumstances receivers
may be flooded by relevant information; in others they may encounter only a few isolated items.
Individual differences also influence level of exposure; some people seem to be attuned to a
large range of information, while others miss or dismiss much as extraneous.
iii. Different kinds of relationships between people and messages cut through the many levels
of exposure. Some relationships are confined to isolated situations, others to recurrent events.
Moreover, some relationships center on a particular message, while others focus on more diffuse
units; that is, they entail a complex set of relationships between a given message and the larger
backdrop of information against which it is interpreted.
iv. It may be useful to conceive of an interaction between two mosaics. One comprises the
information in a given social milieu, as depicted in the model; the other includes the private
mosaic of information that is internal to the receiver. The internal mosaic is every bit as complex
as the one shown in the model, but a person constructs it for himself.
i. Even though this model adds a third dimension, it does not easily account for all the
possible dimensions involved in a communication event.
G. Multidimensional Models
1. Ruesch and Bateson, Functional Model, 1951
a. Mortensen: “Ruesch and Bateson conceived of communication as functioning
simultaneously at four levels of analysis. One is the basic intrapersonal process (level 1). The
next (level 2) is interpersonal and focuses on the overlapping fields of experience of two
interactants. Group interaction (level 3) comprises many people. And finally a cultural level
(level 4) links large groups of people. Moreover, each level of activity consists of four
communicative functions: evaluating, sending, receiving, and channeling. Notice how the model
focuses less on the structural attributes of communication-source, message, receiver, etc.—and
more upon the actual determinants of the process.”
b. Mortensen: “A similar concern with communicative functions can be traced through the
models of Carroll (1955), Fearing (1953), Mysak (1970), Osgood (1954), and Peterson (1958).
Peterson’s model is one of the few to integrate the physiological and psychological functions at
work in all interpersonal events.”
2. Barnlund’s Transactional Model, 1970
i. Mortensen: “By far the most systematic of the functional models is the transactional
approach taken by Barnlund (1970, pp. 83-102), one of the few investigators who made explicit
the key assumptions on which his model was based.”
ii. Mortensen: “Its most striking feature is the absence of any simple or linear directionality in
the interplay between self and the physical world. The spiral lines connect the functions of
encoding and decoding and give graphic representation to the continuous, unrepeatable, and
irreversible assumptions mentioned earlier. Moreover, the directionality of the arrows seems
deliberately to suggest that meaning is actively assigned or attributed rather than simply
iii. “Any one of three signs or cues may elicit a sense of meaning. Public cues (Cpu) derive from the environment. They are either natural, that is, part of the physical world, or artificial and man-made. Private objects of orientation (Cpr) are a second set of cues. They go beyond public inspection or awareness. Examples include the cues gained from sunglasses, earphones, or the sensory cues of taste and touch. Both public and private cues may be verbal or nonverbal in nature. What is critical is that they are outside the direct and deliberate control of the interactants.
The third set of cues are deliberate; they are the behavioral and nonverbal (Cbehj cues that a person initiates and controls himself. Again, the process involving deliberate message cues is reciprocal. Thus, the arrows connecting behavioral cues stand both for the act of producing them-technically a form of encoding-and for the interpretation that is given to an act of others (decoding). The jagged lines (VVVV ) at each end of these sets of cues illustrate the fact that the number of available cues is probably without limit. Note also the valence signs (+, 0, or -) that have been attached to public, private, and behavioral cues. They indicate the potency or degree of attractiveness associated with the cues. Presumably, each cue can differ in degree of strength as well as in kind. “t each end of these sets of cues illustrate the fact that the number of available cues is probably without limit. Note also the valence signs (+, 0, or -) that have been attached to public, private, and behavioral cues. They indicate the potency or degree of attractiveness associated with the cues. Presumably, each cue can differ in degree of strength as well as in kind."
Mortensen: “The assumptions posit a view of communication as transactions in
which communicators attribute meaning to events in ways that are dynamic,
continuous, circular, unrepeatable, irreversible, and complex.”
Mortensen: “The exception is the assumption that communication describes the
evolution of meaning. In effect, the model presupposes that the terms
communication and meaning are synonymous and interchangeable. Yet nowhere
does the model deal in even a rudimentary way with the difficult problem of
meaning. The inclusion of decoding and encoding may be taken as only a rough
approximation of the “evolution of meaning,” but such dualistic categories are not
particularly useful in explaining the contingencies of meaning.”
H. Suggestions for Communication Models
1. A Systemic Model of Communication, 1972
Some communication theorists have attempted to construct models in light of General
Systems Theory. The “key assumption” of GST “is that every part of the system is so related to
every other part that any change in one aspect results in dynamic changes in all other parts of the
total system (Hall and Fagen, 1956). It is necessary, then, to think of communication not so much
as individuals functioning under their own autonomous power but rather as persons interacting
through messages. Hence, the minimum unit of measurement is that which ties the respective
parties and their surroundings into a coherent and indivisible whole.”
b. A Systemic Communication Model would have to address the following axioms by
Watzlawick and his associates (1967).
i. The Impossibility of Not Communicating
Interpersonal behavior has no opposites. It is not possible to conceive of non-
behavior. If all behavior in an interactional situation can be taken as having
potential message value, it follows that no matter what is said and done, “one
cannot not communicate.” Silence and inactivity are no exceptions. Even
when one person tries to ignore the overtures of another, he nonetheless
communicates a disinclination to talk.
ii. Content and Relationship in Communication
All face-to-face encounters require some sort of personal recognition and
commitment which in turn create and define the relationship between the
respective parties. “Communication,” wrote Watzlawick (1967), “not only
conveys information, but ... at the same time . . . imposes behavior [p. 51].”
Any activity that communicates information can be taken as synonymous with
the content of the message, regardless of whether it is true or false, valid or
invalid. . . . Each spoken word, every movement of the body, and all the eye
glances furnish a running commentary on how each person sees himself, the
other person, and the other person’s reactions.
iii. The Punctuation of the Sequence of Events
Human beings “set up between them patterns of interchange (about which
they may or may not be in agreement) and these patterns will in fact be rules
of contingency regarding the exchange of reinforcement” [pp. 273-274].
iv. Symmetrical and Complementary Interaction
A symmetrical relationship evolves in the direction of heightening
similarities; a complementary relationship hinges increasingly on individual
differences. The word symmetrical suggests a relationship in which the
respective parties mirror the behavior of the other. Whatever one does, the
other tends to respond in kind. Thus, an initial act of trust fosters a trusting
response; suspicion elicits suspicion; warmth and congeniality encourage
more of the same, and so on. In sharp contrast is a complementary
relationship, where individual differences complement or dovetail into a
sequence of change. Whether the complementary actions are good or bad,
productive or injurious, is not relevant to the concept.
2. Brown’s Holographic Model, 1987
i. Rhetorical theorist, William Brown, proposed “The Holographic View of Argument”
(Argumentation, 1 (1987): 89-102).
ii. Arguing against an analytical approach to communication that dissects the elements of
communication, Brown argued for seeing argument or communication as a hologram “which as a
metaphor for the nature of argument emphasizes not the knowledge that comes from seeing the
parts in the whole but rather that which arises from seeing the whole in each part.”
iii. “The ground of argument in a holographic structure is a boundaryless event.”
b. A model of communication based on Brown’s holographic metaphor would see
connections between divided elements and divisions between connections.
3. A Fractal Model
i. Polish-born mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot, while working for IBM in the 1960s and
70s, became intrigued with the possibility of deriving apparently irregular shapes with a
mathematical formula. "Clouds are not spheres," he said, "mountains are not cones, coastlines
are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line." So if these
regular geometric forms could not account for natural patterns, what could?
ii. To solve the problem, Mandelbrot developed the fractal, a simple, repeating shape that can
be created by repeating the same formula over and over.
“I coined fractal from the Latin adjective fractus. The corresponding Latin verb frangere means
‘to break’: to create irregular fragments. It is therefore sensible—and how appropriate for our
needs!—that, in addition to ‘fragmented’ fractus should also mean ‘irregular,’ both meanings
being preserved in fragment.” Benoit Mandelbrot
Construction of a Fractal Snowflake
A Koch snowflake is constructed by making progressive additions to a simple triangle. The
additions are made by dividing the equilateral triangle’s sides into thirds, then creating a new
triangle on each middle third. Thus, each frame shows more complexity, but every new triangle
in the design looks exactly like the initial one. This reflection of the larger design in its smaller
details is characteristic of all fractals.
iii. Fractal shapes occur everywhere in nature: a head of broccoli, a leaf, a snowflake—almost
any natural form. See http://math.bu.edu/DYSYS/explorer/index.html.
iv. Mandelbrot’s discovery changed computer graphics—by using fractal formulas, graphic
engines could create natural-looking virtual landscapes. More importantly, fractal formulas can
account for variations in other natural patterns such as economic markets and weather patterns.
Polish-born French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” to describe
complex geometric shapes that, when magnified, continue to resemble the shape’s larger
structure. This property, in which the pattern of the whole repeats itself on smaller and smaller
scales, is called self similarity. The fractal shown here, called the Mandelbrot set, is the graphical
representation of a mathematical function.
v. Fractals allow for almost infinite density. For example, Mandelbrot considered the
deceptively simple question: “How long is the coast line of Britain?” A typical answer will
ignore inlets and bays smaller than a certain size. But if we account for these small coastline
features, and then those smaller still, we would soon find ourselves with a line of potentially
infinite and constantly changing length. A fractal equation could account for such a line.
vi. Fractal geometry is in some ways related to chaos theory, the science of finding pattern in
apparently random sequences, like a dripping faucet or weather patterns. Chaos theory has been
applied to computer-generated landscapes, organizational structures
(http://www.cio.com/archive/enterprise/041598_qanda_content.html), and even washing
machines. Of course, it has also been applied to economics and the stock market, in particular:
The stock markets are said to be nonlinear, dynamic systems. Chaos theory is the
mathematics of studying such nonlinear, dynamic systems. Does this mean that chaoticians can
predict when stocks will rise and fall? Not quite; however, chaoticians have determined that the
market prices are highly random, but with a trend. The stock market is accepted as a self-similar
system in the sense that the individual parts are related to the whole. Another self-similar system
in the area of mathematics are fractals. Could the stock market be associated with a fractal?
Why not? In the market price action, if one looks at the market monthly, weekly, daily, and intra
day bar charts, the structure has a similar appearance. However, just like a fractal, the stock
market has sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This factor is what makes dynamic market
systems so difficult to predict. Because we cannot accurately describe the current situation with
the detail necessary, we cannot accurately predict the state of the system at a future time. Stock
market success can be predicted by chaoticians. Short-term investing, such as intra day
exchanges are a waste of time. Short-term traders will fail over time due to nothing more than
the cost of trading. However, over time, long-term price action is not random. Traders can
succeed trading from daily or weekly charts if they follow the trends. A system can be random in
the short-term and deterministic in the long term (http://www.duke.edu/~mjd/chaos/chaos.html).
vii. One key premise in both chaos theory and fractals is "sensitive dependence on initial
conditions." One early chaos theorist studying weather patterns stumbled on this when he was
using a simple computer program to plot the course of only 12 weather variables. The computer
printout ran out of paper, so he noted the status of the variables at an earlier point, stopped the
process, replaced the paper and restarted the process at the earlier point. Even though the
variables started at the same point, the patterns quickly diverged, demonstrating the similar or
even identical initial conditions can lead to radically different outcomes (This story is in James
Gleick, Chaos: Making A New Science).
This phenomenon led researchers to talk about "the butterfly effect" to illustrate how a very
small change can produce significant changes in a system. The butterfly effect refers to the fact
that a butterfly flapping its wings over Beijing can result in a change in the weather patterns in
New York two months later.
b. Applying Fractals to Communication
i. Like Dance’s Helix, seeing communication as a fractal form allows us to conceptualize the
almost infinite density of a communication event.
ii. Margaret J. Wheatley has attempted to apply Fractal theory and the science of chaos to
management. (Leadership and the New Science: Learning about Organization from an Orderly
Universe. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, 1992.) You can read some of
Wheatley's ideas here.
iii. The significance of this for the topic at hand is this: First, the patterns of complexity in
natural systems, of which human beings are a part, is profoundly complex and not easily
captured in any formula. Therefore, any predictions about the outcome of these systems are
necessarily limited because of the difficulty of being sensitive to initial conditions. A model of
communication drawn from fractals and chaos theory would have to reflect this complexity and
respond to variations in initial conditions.
iv. In addition, if we marry the fractal to other mathematical constructs, we can develop an even
1.) The mathematician Rudy Rucker, in a way that only mathematicians can, said “Life is a
fractal in Hilbert space.” (Mind Tools: The Five Levels of Mathematical Reality (Boston :
Houghton Mifflin, 1987) 248.)
2.) Hilbert Space is a theoretical multi-dimensional space. Rucker is saying that life is an
infinitely variegated entity that exists in multiple dimensions.
3.) So, we can borrow Rucker’s phrase and say that communication is a fractal in Hilbert space.
Theories of communication:
Theories of Communication
Chapter 1 focused on the developmental stages of Communication and summed up
Communication as a complex and dynamic process leading to the evolution of meaning.
The study of communication and mass media has led to the formulation of many theories:
structural and functional theories believe that social structures are real and function in ways
that can be observed objectively; cognitive and behavioral theories tend to focus on psychology
of individuals; interactionist theories view social life as a process of interaction; interpretive
theories uncover the ways people actually understand their own experience; and critical theories
are concerned with the conflict of interests in society and the way communication perpetuates
domination of one group over another .
The earliest theories were those propounded by Western theorists Siebert, Paterson and
Schramm in their book Four Theories Of the Press (1956). These were termed "normative
theories" by McQuail in the sense that they "mainly express ideas of how the media ought to or
can be expected to operate under a prevailing set of conditions and values." Each of the four
original or classical theories is based on a particular political theory or economic scenario.
I) CLASSICAL THEORIES
According to this theory, mass media, though not under the direct control of the State,
had to follow its bidding. Under an Authoritarian approach in Western Europe, freedom of
thought was jealously guarded by a few people (ruling classes), who were concerned with the
emergence of a new middle class and were worried about the effects of printed matter on their
thought process. Steps were taken to control the freedom of expression. The result was advocacy
of complete dictatorship. The theory promoted zealous obedience to a hierarchical superior and
reliance on threat and punishment to those who did not follow the censorship rules or did not
respect authority. Censorship of the press was justified on the ground that the State always took
precedence over the individual's right to freedom of expression.
This theory stemmed from the authoritarian philosophy of Plato (407 - 327 B.C), who thought
that the State was safe only in the hands of a few wise men. Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), a
British academician, argued that the power to maintain order was sovereign and individual
objections were to be ignored. Engel, a German thinker further reinforced the theory by stating
that freedom came into its supreme right only under Authoritarianism.
The world has been witness to authoritarian means of control over media by both dictatorial and
Libertarianism or Free Press Theory
This movement is based on the right of an individual, and advocates absence of restraint.
The basis of this theory dates back to 17th century England when the printing press made it
possible to print several copies of a book or pamphlet at cheap rates. The State was thought of as
a major source of interference on the rights of an individual and his property. Libertarians
regarded taxation as institutional theft. Popular will (vox populi) was granted precedence over
the power of State.
Advocates of this theory were Lao Tzu, an early 16th century philosopher, John Locke of Great
Britain in the17th century, John Milton, the epic poet ("Aeropagitica") and John Stuart Mill,
an essayist ("On Liberty"). Milton in Aeropagitica in 1644, referred to a self righting process if
free expression is permitted "let truth and falsehood grapple." In 1789, the French, in their
Declaration Of The Rights Of Man, wrote "Every citizen may speak, write and publish freely."
Out of such doctrines came the idea of a "free marketplace of ideas." George Orwell defined
libertarianism as "allowing people to say things you do not want to hear". Libertarians argued
that the press should be seen as the Fourth Estate reflecting public opinion.
What the theory offers, in sum, is power without social responsibility.
Social Responsibility Theory
Virulent critics of the Free Press Theory were Wilbur Schramm, Siebert and Theodore
Paterson. In their book Four Theories Of Press, they stated "pure libertarianism is antiquated,
outdated and obsolete." They advocated the need for its replacement by the Social Responsibility
theory. This theory can be said to have been initiated in the United States by the Commission of
The Freedom Of Press, 1949. The commission found that the free market approach to press
freedom had only increased the power of a single class and has not served the interests of the less
well-off classes. The emergence of radio, TV and film suggested the need for some means of
accountability. Thus the theory advocated some obligation on the part of the media to society. A
judicial mix of self regulation and state regulation and high professional standards were
Social Responsibility theory thus became the modern variation in which the duty to one"s
conscience was the primary basis of the right of free expression.
Soviet Media/Communist Theory
This theory is derived from the ideologies of Marx and Engel that "the ideas of the ruling
classes are the ruling ideas". It was thought that the entire mass media was saturated with
bourgeois ideology. Lenin thought of private ownership as being incompatible with freedom of
press and that modern technological means of information must be controlled for enjoying
effective freedom of press.
The theory advocated that the sole purpose of mass media was to educate the great masses of
workers and not to give out information. The public was encouraged to give feedback as it was
the only way the media would be able to cater to its interests.
Two more theories were later added as the "four theories of the press" were not fully applicable
to the non-aligned countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, who were committed to social
and economic development on their own terms. The two theories were:
Development Communication Theory
The underlying fact behind the genesis of this theory was that there can be no
development without communication. Under the four classical theories, capitalism was
legitimized, but under the Development communication theory, or Development Support
Communication as it is otherwise called, the media undertook the role of carrying out positive
developmental programmes, accepting restrictions and instructions from the State. The media
subordinated themselves to political, economic, social and cultural needs. Hence the stress on
"development communication" and "development journalism". There was tacit support from the
UNESCO for this theory. The weakness of this theory is that "development" is often equated
with government propaganda.
Democratization/Democratic Participant Media Theory
This theory vehemently opposes the commercialization of modern media and its top-down non-
participant character. The need for access and right to communicate is stressed. Bureaucratic
control of media is decried.
2) MAGIC BULLET/ HYPODERMIC NEEDLE/ STIMULUS RESPONSE THEORY
Before the first World War, there was no separate field of study on Communication, but
knowledge about mass communication was accumulating. An outcome of World War I
propaganda efforts, the Magic Bullet or Hypodermic Needle Theory came into existence. It
propounded the view that the mass media had a powerful influence on the mass audience and
could deliberately alter or control peoples' behaviour.
Klapper (1960) formulated several generalizations on the effects of mass media. His
research findings are as follows: "Mass-media ordinarily does not serve as a necessary and
sufficient cause of audience effect, but rather functions through a nexus of mediating factors and
influences. These mediating factors render mass-communication as a contributory agent in a
process of reinforcing the existing conditions."
The main mediating factors which he considers responsible for the functions and effects of mass
- selective exposure i.e., people's tendency to expose themselves to those mass communications
which are in agreement with their attitudes and interests; and
- selective perception and retention i.e., people's inclination to organize the meaning of mass
communication messages into accord with their already existing views.
3) TWO STEP FLOW THEORY
In the early 40"s, before the invention of television, Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Goudet
conducted an American survey on mass campaigns. The study revealed that informal social
relationships had played a part in modifying the manner in which individuals selected content
from the media campaign. The study also indicated that ideas often flowed from the radio and
newspapers to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of society. Thus,
informal social groups have some degree of influence on people and mould the way they select
media content and act on it.
4) ONE STEP FLOW THEORY
This theory simply stated that mass communication media channels communicate directly to the
mass audience without the message being filtered by opinion leaders.
5) MULTI STEP FLOW THEORY
This was based on the idea that there are a number of relays in the communication flow from a
source to a large audience.
6) USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY
This theory propounded by Katz in 1970, is concerned with how people use media for
gratification of their needs. An outcome of Abraham Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, it
propounds the fact that people choose what they want to see or read and the different media
compete to satisfy each individual"s needs.
In the hierarchy of needs, there are five levels in the form of a pyramid with the basic needs such
as food and clothing at the base and the higher order needs climbing up the pyramid. The
fulfillment of each lower level need leads to the individual looking to satisfy the next level of
need and so on till he reaches the superior-most need of self-actualization.
The Uses and Gratifications approach reminds us that people use media for many
purposes. As media users become increasingly confronted with choices, this approach should
direct our attention to the audience. Lull's television research found that families used television
for communication facilitation, relationship building, intimacy, and for structuring the day. In
general researchers have found four kinds of gratifications:
1. Information - we want to find out about society and the world- we want to satisfy our
curiosity. This would fit the news and documentaries which both give us a sense that we are
learning about the world.
2. Personal Identity - we may watch the television in order to look for models for our
behaviour. So, for example, we may identify with characters that we see in a soap. The
characters help us to decide what feel about ourselves and if we agree with their actions and they
succeed we feel better about ourselves.
3. Integration and Social Interaction - we use the media in order to find out more about the
circumstances of other people. Watching a show helps us to empathize and sympathize with the
lives of others so that we may even end up thinking of the characters in programme as friends.
4. Entertainment - sometimes we simply use the media for enjoyment, relaxation or just to fill
Riley and Riley (1951) found that children in peer groups used adventure stories from the media
for group games while individual children used media stories for fantasizing and daydreaming.
The study thus found that different people use the same messages from the media for different
Katz replaced the question "what do media do to people?" with the question "what do people do
with the media?" Katz, Gurevitch & Hass found that the media are used by
individuals to meet the following specific needs :
Cognitive needs (acquiring information, knowledge and understanding);
Affective needs (emotional, pleasurable experience);
Personal integrative needs (strengthening self image);
Social integrative needs (strengthening self image);
Tension release needs (escape and diversion)
McQuail, Blumler and Brown suggested the following individual needs categories:
1) Diversion (emotional release)
2) Personal Relationships (substitute of media for companionship).
3) Personal identity or individual psychology (value reinforcement, self understanding.)
4) Surveillance (information that may help an individual accomplish tasks.)
B. Rubin and Bantz (1989) studied the uses and gratifications of "new technology" by
examining VCR use. They found the following motives for VCR use:
1) library storage of movies and shows
2) watching music videos
3) Using exercise tapes
4) renting movies
5) letting children view
7) Socializing by viewing with others
8) Critical viewing including TV watching and studying tapes
7) SPIRAL OF SILENCE THEORY
Propounded by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, this theory states that the media publicizes opinions
that are mainstream and people adjust their opinions according to their perceptions to avoid
being isolated. Individuals who perceive their own opinion as being accepted will express it,
whilst those who think themselves as being a minority, suppress their views. Innovators and
change agents are unafraid to voice different opinions, as they do not fear isolation.
8) CONSISTENCY THEORIES (1950s)
Festinger formulated the consistency theories that talked about people"s need for consistency in
their beliefs and judgements. In order to reduce dissonance created by inconsistencies in belief,
judgments and action people expose themselves to information that is consistent with their ideas
and actions, and they shut out other communications.
9) McCOMBS AND SHAW"S AGENDA SETTING THEORY
This theory puts forth the ability of the media to influence the significance of events in the
public's mind. The media set the agenda for the audience's discussion and mentally order and
organize their world. The theory is consistent with a "use and gratification" approach. McCombs
and Shaw assert that the agenda-setting function of the media causes the correlation between the
media and public ordering of priorities. The people most affected by the media agenda are those
who have a high need for orientation
10) Media Dependency Theory
Developed by Ball-Rokeach and DeFluer, the key idea behind this theory is that audiences
depend on media information to meet needs and reach goals, and social institutions and media
systems interact with audiences to create needs, interests, and motives in the person. The degree
of dependence is influenced by the number and centrality of information functions and social
stability. Some questions that this theory raised were :
Do media create needs?
Do people turn to media to achieve gratification and satisfy needs?
Are media needs personal, social, cultural, political, or all of these?
"The media are our friends"??
11) STEPHENSON"S PLAY THEORY
Play is an activity pursued for pleasure. The daily withdrawal of people into the mass media in
their after hours is a matter of subjectivity. The effect of mass communication is not escapism
nor seducing the masses. Rather it is seen as anti-anxiety producing, and are regarded as
12) MODELING BEHAVIOUR THEORY
Behaviors which are modeled from media experiences can become habitual if found useful
and/or if they are reinforced in the environment. This is not about violent or criminal behavior.
13) STALAGMITE THEORIES
These theories suggest that mediated experiences induce long term effects that are very difficult
to measure. The effects are like stalagmite drippings building up over time. Meaning Theory and
the Cultivation Theory are two of the most significant Stalagmite theories.
Media experiences mould meanings by putting things in a particular framework. Does
"NYPD Blue" depict the real world of New York City police detectives? Questions like this are
coming from a Meaning Theory focus on media.
George Gerbner tried to determine the influence of television on viewers" ideas of the
environment they lived in. He found that dominance of TV created a common view of the world
and that it homogenized different cultures. TV portrayed the society as a bad place to live in
leading to people becoming distrustful of the world. Over time, particular symbols, images,
messages, meanings become dominant and are absorbed as the truth. Cultural stereotypes, ways
of assessing value and hierarchies are established.
14) Diffusion of innovations theory
Pioneered in 1943 by Bryce Ryan and Neil Gross of Iowa State University this theory
traces the process by which a new idea or practice is communicated through certain channels
over time among members of a social system. The model describes the factors that influence
people's thoughts and actions and the process of adopting a new technology or idea.
15) Social learning theory
Formulated by Albert Bandura at Stanford University, this specifies that mass-media
messages give audience members an opportunity to identify with attractive characters that
demonstrate behavior, engage emotions, and allow mental rehearsal and modeling of new
behavior. The behavior of models in the mass media also offers vicarious reinforcement to
motivate audience members' adoption of the behavior.
Baran and Davis (2000) classify mass communication theories into three broad categories:
1. microscopic theories that focus on the everyday life of people who process information - for
example, uses and gratifications, active audience theory, and reception studies;
2. middle range theories that support the limited effects perspective of the media - for example,
information flow theory, diffusion theory, and
3. macroscopic theories that are concerned with media's impact on culture and society - for
example, cultural studies theory.
Theories of mass communication have always focused on the "cause and effects" notion,
i.e. the effects of the media and the process leading to those effects, on the audience's mind.
Harold Lasswell and Berelson have succinctly expressed this idea. Lasswell's essential question
is timeless (1949): "Who says what in what channel to whom with what effects?" Berelson said:
"Some kinds of communication, on some kinds of issues, brought to the attention of some kinds
of people, under some kinds of conditions, have some kinds of effects." (1949).
Wilbur Schramm stated: "In fact, it is misleading to think of the communication process
as starting somewhere and ending somewhere. It is really endless. We are little switchboard
centers handling and rerouting the great endless current of information.... " (Schramm W.1954)
quoted in McQuail & Windahl (1981)
16) The Osgood and Schramm circular model emphasizes the circular nature of
The participants swap between the roles of source/encoder and receiver/decoder.
17) Gerbner's General Model
Gerbner's General Model also emphasizes the dynamic nature of human communication.
18) The Shannon-Weaver Model.
Shannon and Weaver produced a general model of communication known after them as the
Shannon-Weaver Model. It involved breaking down an information system into sub-systems so
as to evaluate the efficiency of various communication channels and codes. They propose that all
communication must include six elements:
This model is often referred to as an " information model" of communication. A
drawback is that the model looks at communication as a one-way process. That is remedied by
the addition of the feedback loop. Noise indicates those factors that disturb or otherwise
influence messages as they are being transmitted
19) Berlo's S-M-C-R Model
Berlo"s SMCR (SOURCE, MESSAGE, CHANNEL, and RECEIVER) model focuses on
the individual characteristics of communication and stresses the role of the relationship between
the source and the receiver as an important variable in the communication process. The more
highly developed the communication skills of the source and the receiver, the more effectively
the message will be encoded and decoded.
Berlo's model represents a communication process that occurs as a SOURCE drafts
messages based on one's communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, and social and cultural
system. These MESSAGES are transmitted along CHANNELS, which can include sight,
hearing, touch, smell, and taste. A RECEIVER interprets messages based on the individual's
communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, and social and cultural system. The limitations of
the model are its lack of feedback
Terms used in the chapter:
It is a collective phrase that represents not only the press, cinema, radio, television and internet,
but also to some extent, books magazines, pamphlets , direct mail literature, posters, folk media,
and natural communication methods such as rumours, education and preaching. It is so termed
because its reach extends to vast heterogeneous populations. Generally the mass media employ
technological means to communicate to the masses. They are founded on the idea of mass
production and distribution. Wiebe defined mass media as those readily available to the general
The media are full of competing messages. The process of screening vast amount of information
in which one has no interest through mental filters is called selective attention, for example, an
adult will be more tuned to listening to the news while a child would rather watch a cartoon
This is the tendency to interpret communication messages in terms of one"s existing
attitudes. People of distinct psychological character same media content in different ways. This
depends on factors such as age, values, family, opinions etc. Selective perception is influenced
by social relationships.
The ability of an individual to retain certain messages in his mind while ignoring others is called
selective retention. This is influenced by various psychological and physiological factors such as
choice, values, culture, emotions etc.
Some individuals are exposed to certain media effects/messages while some are not. This
screening aspect depends on many factors such as reach of media, accessibility, age, cultural
acceptability, taboos, etc.
Opinion leaders/change agents:
The opinions of people in a group are influenced by what they hear from "opinion
leaders". An individual who is a member of a group manifests certain characteristics in his
thinking and behaviour that contribute to the formation of "public opinion". The opinion of the
leader is based on rational thinking due to education and experience. They weigh the pros and
cons of the information they receive and then give their judgement on it.
In the process of communication, the sender or source of the message is referred to as the
The person receiving the message and decodes it is referred to as the decoder.
Feedback, a term form cybernetics, the study of messages. It refers to an inquiry, response or
experiment. Feedback can be positive (when the required result is achieved) or negative;
instantaneous(when the response is immediate) or delayed. Feedback is used to gauge the
effectivenss of a particular message put forth or situation that has taken place.
In all communication, there is a sender, a message/communication and a receiver. The
meaning of a message is greatly dependent on the culture in which it is transmitted. The sender
encodes a message, the receiver decodes it. Between the sender, the message and receiver, noise
gets in the way and complicates the process. A noiseless communication does not exist. There
always is some kind of noise entering the communication. Noise can be physical noise for
example static or psychological i.e. when culture, taboos or values come into play to disrupt the
normal transmission process of communication. Misunderstanding of a particular message i.e.
distortion of meaning is a form of noise, example, the game of Chinese Whisper"a person starts
off with a particular message and the original message may be distorted by the time it comes to
the final player.
Defining Communication Theories
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Cognitive Dissonance Theory argues that the experience of dissonance (or incompatible beliefs
and actions) is aversive and people are highly motivated to avoid it. In their efforts to avoid
feelings of dissonance, people will avoid hearing views that oppose their own, change their
beliefs to match their actions, and seek reassurance after making a difficult decision.
Communication Accommodation Theory
This theoretical perspective examines the underlying motivations and consequences of what
happens when two speakers shift their communication styles. Communication Accommodation
theorists argue that during communication, people will try to accommodate or adjust their style
of speaking to others. This is done in two ways: divergence and convergence. Groups with
strongethnic or racial pride often use divergence to highlight group identity. Convergence occurs
when there is a strong need for social approval, frequently from powerless individuals.
Coordinated Management of Meaning
Theorists in Coordinated Management of Meaning believe that in conversation, people
co-create meaning by attaining some coherence and coordination. Coherence occurs when stories
are told, and coordination exists when stories are lived. CMM focuses on the relationship
between an individual and his or her society. Through a hierarchical structure, individuals come
to organize the meaning of literally hundreds of messages received throughout a day.
This theory argues that television (and other media) plays an extremely important role in
how people view their world. According to Cultivation Analysis, in modern Culture most people
get much of their information in a mediated fashion rather than through direct experience. Thus,
mediated sources can shape people’s sense of reality. This is especially the case with regard to
violence, according to the theory. Cultivation Analysis posits that heavy television viewing
cultivates a sense of the world that is more violent and scarier than is actually warranted.
Cultural Approach to Organizations :
The Cultural Approach contends that people are like animals who are suspended in webs
that they created. Theorists in this tradition argue that an organization’s culture is composed of
shared symbols, each of which has a unique meaning. Organizational stories, rituals, and rites of
passage are examples of what constitutes the culture of an organization.
Theorists in cultural studies maintain that the media represents ideologies of the dominant
class in a society. Because media are controlled by corporations, the information presented to the
public is necessarily influenced and framed with profit in mind. Cultural Studies theorists,
therefore, are concerned with media influenced and framed with profit in mind. Cultural Studies
theorists, therefore, are concerned with media influence and how power plays a role in the
interpretation of culture.
This theoretical position compares life to a drama. As in dramatic action, life requires an
actor, a scene, an act, some means for the action to take place, and a purpose. A rhetorical critic
can understand a speaker’s motives by analyzing these elements. Further, Dramatism argues that
purging guilt is the ultimate motive, and rhetors can be successful when they provide their
audiences with a means for purging their guilt and a sense of identification with the rhetor.
Expectancy Violations Theory
Expectancy Violation Theory examines how nonverbal messages are structured. The
theory advances that when communicative norms are violated, the violation may be perceived
either favorably or unfavorably, depending on the perception that the receiver has of the violator.
Violating another’s expectations may be a strategy used over that of conforming to another’s
Face-Negotiation Theory is concerned with how people in individualistic and
collectivistic cultures negotiate face in conflict situations. The theory is based on face
management, which describes how people from different cultures manage conflict negotiation in
order to maintain face. Self-face and other-face concerns explain the conflict negotiation
between people from various cultures.
The groupthink phenomenon occurs when highly cohesive groups fail to consider
alternatives that may effectively resolve group dilemmas. Groupthink theorists contend that
group members frequently think similarly and are reluctant to share unpopular or dissimilar ideas
with others. When this occurs, groups prematurely make decisions, some of which can have
Muted Group Theory
Muted Group Theory maintains that language serves men better than women (and
perhaps European Americans better than African Americans or other groups). This is the case
because the variety of experiences of European American men are named clearly in language,
whereas the experiences of other groups (such as women) are not. Due to this problem with
language, women appear less articulate than men in public settings. As women have similar
experiences, this situation should change.
The Narrative Paradigm
This theory argues that humans are storytelling animals. The Narrative Paradigm
proposes a narrative logic to replace the traditional logic of argument. Narrative logic, or the
logic of good reasons, suggests that people judge the credibility of speakers by whether their
stories hang together clearly (coherence and whether their stories ring true (fidelity). The
Narrative Paradigm allows for a democratic judgment of speakers because no one has to be
trained in oratory and persuasion to make judgments based on coherence and fidelity.
Organizational Information Theory
This Theory argues that the main activity of organizations is the process of making sense
of equivocal information. Organizational members accomplish this sense-making process
through enactment, selection, and retention of information. Organizations are successful to the
extent that they are able to reduce equivocality through these means.
Relational Dialectics Theory
Relational Dialectics suggests that relational life is always in process. People in
relationships continually feel the pull-push of conflicting desires. Basically, people wish to have
both autonomy and connection, openness and protective-ness, and novelty and predictability. As
people communicate in relationships, they attempt to reconcile these conflicting desires, but they
never eliminate their needs for both of the opposing pairs.
Rhetorical theory is based on the available means of persuasion. That is, a speaker who is
interested in persuading his or her audience should consider three rhetorical proofs: logical,
emotional, and ethical. Audiences are key to effective persuasion as well. Rhetorical syllogism,
requiring audiences to supply missing pieces of a speech, are also used in persuasion.
Social Exchange Theory
This theoretical position argues that the major force in interpersonal relationships is the
satisfaction of both people’s self-interest. Theorists in Social Exchange posit that self-interest is
not necessarily a bad thing and that it can actually enhance relationships. The Social Exchange
approach views interpersonal exchange posit that self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing and
that it can actually enhance relationships. The Social Exchange approach views interpersonal
exchanges as analogous to economic exchanges where people are satisfied when they receive a
fair return on their expenditures.
Social Penetration Theory
This theory maintains that interpersonal relationships evolve in some gradual and
predictable fashion. Penetration theorists believe that self-disclosure is the primary way that
superficial relationships progress to intimate relationships. Although self-disclosure can lead to
more intimate relationships, it can also leave one or more persons vulnerable.
Spiral of Silence Theory
Theorists associated with Spiral of Silence Theory argue that due to their enormous
power, the mass media have a lasting effect on public opinion. The theory maintains that mass
media work simultaneously with Majority public opinion to silence minority beliefs on cultural
issues. A fear of isolation prompts those with minority views to examine the beliefs of others.
Individuals who fear being socially isolated are prone to conform to what they perceive to be a
This theory posits that people are situated in specific social standpoints-they occupy
different places in the social hierarchy. Because of this, individuals view the social situation from
particular vantage points. By necessity, each vantage point provides only a partial understanding
of the social whole. Yet, those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand
the social whole. Yet, those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand the
social situation more fully than those at the top. Sometimes, Standpoint Theory is referred to as
Feminist Standpoint Theory because of its application to how women’s and men’s standpoint
Theorists supporting the structurational perspective argue that groups and organizations
create structures, which can be interpreted as an organization’s rules and resources. These
structures, in turn, create social systems in an organization. Structuration theorists posit that
groups and organizations achieve a life of their own because of the way their members utilize
their structures. Power structures guide the decision making taking place in groups and
Symbolic Interaction Theory
This theory suggests that people are motivated to act based on the meanings they assign
to people, things, and events. Further, meaning is created in the language that people use both
with others and in private thought. Language allows people to develop a sense of self and to
interact with others in community.
Uncertainly Reduction Theory
Uncertainty Reduction Theory suggests that when strangers meet, their primary focus is
on reducing their levels of uncertainty in the situation. Their levels of uncertainty are located in
both behavioral and cognitive realms. That is, they may be unsure of how to behave (or how the
other person will behave), and they may also be unsure what they think of the other and what the
other person thinks of them. Further, people’s uncertainty is both individual level and relational
level. People are highly motivated to use communication to reduce their uncertainty according to
Uses and Gratifications Theory
Uses and Gratifications theorists explain why people choose and use certain media forms.
The theory emphasizes a limited effect position; that is, the media have a limit the effect on their
audiences because audiences are able to exercise control over their media. Uses and
Gratifications Theory attempts to answer the following: What do people do with the media?
A New Model of Communication
Looking back some years, things were pretty clear in terms of the communication process
and the flow of information. Organisations sent out press releases to mass media, which acted as
gate keepers and reserved the right to distribute it (or not) to the general or more specialised
audiences. Consumers were then either non-responsive or persuaded by the information bits.
Everyone knew its role in this scheme and surprises were rare.
Moving fast forward, today we experience a chaotic explosion of information, in which RSS
feeds, social media and other news aggregators barely manage to keep us informed. We are
certainly long past the one way communication of the Mad Men area, but for sure we no longer
are in the two-way model either. One-way, two-way or the high way? Where are we today?
Models of communication
Several models of communication have emerged and evolved as interactions between
people changed. Among the main players in this game were the communication channels, which
developed as technology advanced. The first steps of progress were slow, from newspapers to
radio and TV, but then internet came about to change the pace. Speed, instant access, 24/7
connectivity were the new criteria. And everything after that changed.
One Way Communication or The Linear Model
The linear model of communication was defined in 1949 by Shannon and Weaver, who
were working at the Bell Laboratories. It was a technical model meant to be applied for radio and
telephone communication, but nevertheless remained as the first major communication model.
The graph above describes the model, but here’s how an example would look like. A musician
(the source) has some feelings he wants to share with the world (the message). In order to
transmit them he gives a live performance at the opera. By playing an instrument (the
transmitter) his feelings (the message) are coded into sound (the signal). Sounds travel by air (the
channel) and reach the audience ears (the receiver). The listeners (destination) decode the signals
and interpret their own message.
Two Way Communication or The Interactional Model
The Interactional Model developed by Wilbur L. Schramm goes one step further and
states that destination can become in turn a source and notions as feedback come into play. In our
case the audience who praises the artist with applause at the end follows the same process of
communication only that in the opposite direction.
Multiple Way Communication or the Transactional Model
Developed by Barnlund in 2008, the Transactional Model states that people actively
engage in conversation as both senders and receivers of information and they do so not only at
verbal level, but also at non-verbal and para-verbal levels. They also come into the conversation
carrying their cultural background and education, but leave the conversation influenced by the
exchange. For instance, members of the audience may not like or understand a piece of national
music or others may leave the opera changed for life by the experience.
Summing up: Communication happens vertically from communicators to people, but
also horizontally among the members of the public who start exchanging opinions about the
messages they receive. Peer review is a strong argument.
3D Communication or the Empowering Model
Let’s take a step beyond the existing models. In the social media age of today, the
transactional model surely remains valid, as we continue to influence each other, but a z axis is
added to x and y as players start occupying a place in space that allows them to interact in any
way with all other players and play all roles at the same time, depending on the perspective. The
individual is empowered by social media to become an opinion leader, a gate-keeper of his own
and influence its own community. He becomes a source of news for his community and
sometimes for the traditional media themselves. He is approached directly by organisations and
approaches them directly. The individual is simultaneously consumer, producer, evaluator and
influencer. He has the power.
The Empowering Model of Communication
TYPES OF COMMUNICATION:
Most animals communicate with each other in some way. Dogs bark at those they
perceive as a threat in order to communicate their hostility and in some cases the threat that they
will attack if provoked; bees have a pouch in which they carry the scent of their hive so as to
identify themselves as members of the community. However, it is only in humans that
communication breaks off into different types of communication: verbal and non-verbal, and
formal and informal.
Verbal communication is just what one would expect from the name: communication
using words, and in some cases written characters. There are subcategories for verbal
communication, depending on who is at the receiving end of the communication. The main
division is between interpersonal communication, in which one person speaks directly to another
person, and public or group speaking, in which one person speaks to a large group. From here,
the intention of the person speaking breaks it down into still further categories depending on
whether they are trying to persuade the listener or listeners to think or act in a certain way, to
convey information in the clearest manner possible, or even to entertain. However, in many
cases, the intentions of the speaker will overlap: speakers may want to persuade, inform, and
entertain their audiences all at the same time. Sometimes, they may even be unaware of what
their true intentions are themselves.
Non-verbal communication is the type that is more similar to what the dogs and bees
mentioned above do. Non-verbal communication includes all the information we convey to
others, whether consciously or subconsciously, without actually using any words. Probably the
most ubiquitous example of non verbal communication is that of facial expressions. For
example, when a person rolls their eyes at someone, they are expressing skepticism about what
the speaker said. They are not using any words to convey this message, but using their
understanding of the non-verbal cues they can send that message without having to explicitly
say, “I really find what you are saying unbelievable”. Not all facial expressions are so calculated
though: there are those like smiles that come naturally when someone is happy, and indicate this
Beyond these more explicit examples, there are more subtle instances of non-verbal
communication. For example, clothing: just as the male peacock uses a vibrant display of his
colorful feathers to signal to a potential mate that he is a desirable choice, people use clothing in
order to send messages about themselves (whether they are true or not). In this vein, a man going
to a job interview will usually wear a suit and tie in order to convey the idea that he is a very
professional person. Unlike facial expressions, this kind of non-verbal communication is more
like verbal communication because it is arbitrary – there is no intrinsic reason why a suit and tie
should convey the idea of professionalism any more than a Japanese kimono would. It is simply
that it has become a cultural norm that a suit and tie is what a professional person wears, and as
such it becomes a symbol and a means of non-verbal communication.
Formal communication is more strongly associated with large and small group
speaking. It is more rule bound, and is more centered on the speaker getting some kind of result.
For example, speaking to a board room full of business executives in order to convince them to
accept a marketing strategy is an example of formal communication: what is said and how it is
said is rule-bound to what is considered appropriate for the setting, and it is directed toward the
specific end of getting the executives to accept the ad campaign. Furthermore, their are instances
of symbolic non-verbal communication, such as the wearing of business attire in order to appear
Informal communication is associated with interpersonal communication. While it is
still rule bound by the social norms of the those communicating, there is much more room for the
speaker to be free in what he or she says. Informal communication is also much less tied to
specific ends: in many cases, it takes place simply for the speaker to express what they think and
feel about anything in particular, and the speaking is undertaken as an end it itself. It is a much
more emotionally involved form of communication, in large part because there is less emphasis
on symbolic non-verbal communication and more emphasis on saying what one really feels.
Although these various types of communication are very different, they are all indispensable
tools for communicating with and understanding others. In order to be able to look at others and
truly appreciate what they are trying to convey and whether what they are saying has any value,
one needs to have a thorough understanding of all types.
12.4 Communication in Business
Business persons share their business information with employees, suppliers, customers,
distributers, Government, banks, insurance companies, etc. This sharing of information regarding
business activities and their results is known as business communication. Business commuication
plays a very important role in the success of any business enterprise.
Let us discuss the importance of communication in business.
i. Business communication helps in providing information to the customers regarding the
products and services of the business organization.
ii. Effective communication facilitates quick-decision making. In today’s world ofcompetition,
quick-decisions are necessary. Proper Communication saves times, reduces wastage and cost and
induces prompt action.
iii. Proper communication helps businesspersons in managing the affairs of the business
Intext Questions 12.3
Fill in the blanks:
(i) Business communication helps in providing information to customers regarding
(ii) Business communication helps in taking ________ decisions.
(iii) Proper business communication motivates the employees because their
______________ are taken care of properly.
(iv) Sharing of information regarding business activities and their results is known
(v) Proper communication saves _________ and induces _________ action.
12.5 Means of Communication
There are various ways through which we communicate with each other. These may be called as
the means of communication. In face-to-face contact we use different parts of our body or we
directly talk to others while communicating our message. Where face-to-face communication is
not possible, we take the help of some other means through which we usually convey our
messages. For example, we may use letters to convey written messages; talk to others over
telephones; send telegrams and use various other modern machines like computers, fax machine,
etc. to communicate our messages. The means to be used in our communication process depend
upon the purpose of communication. For example, to send any urgent message we generally use
telephone; for any important matter for which a written document is required, we use letter,
telegram, fax, etc. Now-a-days modern technology has given us a wide option to choose the
means according to our requirement and liking. Let us discuss some of the important means of
Communication commonly used in business.
Letters are a written form of communication. These can be sent or received by individuals or
organisations. Written messages in the form of letters can be delivered to the receivers through
special messenger, post offices or private couriers. This method is mostly used where face-to-
face communication is difficult or other means are not easily available. It helps in keeping a
record of the communication. The cost involved is low in this means of communication.
It is also a form of written communication by which messages can be sent quickly to distant
places. It is generally used when there is an urgency of communicating any important message. It
transmits message much faster than ordinary postal mail. This facility is available in all telegraph
offices, where on payment of specific fee, we send our message. Charges are payable on the
basis of number of words used in writing the message including the address of the receiver and
sender’s name. Hence, telegraphic messages are written in brief. Telegrams can be sent as
ordinary or express. Express telegrams travel faster than ordinary telegram, for which extra
charge is to be paid. To send telegrams to foreign countries cablegrams are used. Telegrams can
also be sent by using telephone, which is called as phonogram. Here by ringing up the telegraph
office through a telephone, the message can be recorded and later the telegraph office transmits
the message to the receiver.
Telephone is a very popular form of oral communication. It is widely used for internal
and external business communications. Long distance communication is facilitated by STD
(Subscriber Trunk Dialing) while international communication can be made through ISD
(International Subscriber Dialing) facilities. Both government and private agencies provide
telecom services. Telephone is mostly preferred as it helps in establishing instant
In business firms as well as government and private offices automatic switchboards known as
private automatic branch exchange (PABX) are installed to facilitate internal as well as external
Now-a-days mobile phones are very popular as they give an access to the receiver at any time,
anywhere. This is an improvement over the fixed line telephone. It possesses many modern
features like Short Messaging Services (SMS), Multi Media Messaging Services (MMS) etc., by
using which written messages can be sent to the receivers. Both private as well as government
organizations provide this services. MTNL. BSNL, Airtel, Idea, Hutch, Reliance and Tata are the
leading mobile service provider in our country.
Telex provides a means of printed communication using teleprinter. Teleprinters consist
of machines installed at different places which are connected to a central exchange through
cable. In each machine a standard keyboard is fitted. Any message typed by using those
keyboards at one end is automatically typed at the other end. Hence instant transmission is
Fax or facsimile is an electronic device that enables instant transmission of any matter,
which may be handwritten or printed like letters, diagrams, graphs, sketches, etc. By using
telephone lines this machine sends the exact copy of the document to another fax machine at the
receiving end. For sending any message the documents on which message, diagram or drawing is
typed or drawn has to be put in the fax machine and the fax number (a telephone number) of the
other party has to be dialed. Then the fax machine at the receiving end wills SMS sends only
MMS sends pictures sound and text instantly produce the replica of the matter. This is the
most commonly used means of written communication in business. The main advantages of Fax
system are easy operation, instant transmission of handwritten or printed matters over any
distance, simultaneous transmission to two or more receivers, etc. The machine also records each
transaction of communication. The only limitation is that fax machines accept document upto a
standard size. Again, as a usual practice, a copy of the same document is sent to the receiver
through post for their record. The receiver at the other end also makes a photocopy of the
document immediately after receiving the message through fax machine, because there may be
chances that the ink used by the machine may fade away after some time.
Electronic mail, popularly known as e-mail is a modern means of communication. The
system makes use of electronic methods of transmitting and receiving information. In this case
individuals, through the internet, open an e-mail account in their name from any ISP (Internet
Service Provider). Then letters, messages, pictures or sounds can be sent through their computer
to the e-mail accounts of other individuals. Whenever the other person will access his e-mail
account he receives the message. The information is communicated audio visually and the
process is extremely fast. This method is gaining popularity with increased use of internet among
It is a computer-based system for receiving and responding to incoming telephone calls.
It records and stores telephone messages through computer memory. The caller can get the
required information by dialing the voice mail number and then following the instructions of the
computer. The individuals can also record their messages through voice mail. The receivers at
their own convenience can get the message from the machines and take action accordingly. You
can get information regarding admission, examination and result of NIOS through an interactive
Voice Mail System, which has been installed at its headquarters at New Delhi. You can dial any
of the two telephone numbers, 011-26291054 or 011-26291075 to get information from the voice
This is an instrument which can be used to receive any short messages from the sender at
any time. Within a limited area if any body wants to send any message to a person who does not
have any fixed work place or he/she is in motion, then the message can be sent through pager.
The sender dials a telephone number and gives his message orally to the company operating the
pager service. This message is transmitted by the company to the person possessing the pager.
The message travels through air in the form of electronic signal, which is converted into written
message through pager. By reading that message the receiver will take action immediately. It is a
system of one-way communication, which means; the receiver can only receive the message but
cannot send any message through this machine.
Conference generally refers to a meeting of people for consultation or discussion
regarding any common issues. Here people sit together and interact face to face with each other.
But, teleconferencing is a system through which people interact with each other without
physically sitting in front of others. People can hear the voice and see the picture of others and
also respond to their queries even if sitting in different countries. It requires the use of modern
electronic devices like telephone, computers, television etc. For every teleconferencing a central
controlling unit is required that facilitate the entire process of communication. There are two
different types of teleconferencing, one, audio-conferencing and other, videoconferencing.
Let us know more about them.
Audio-conferencing - It is a two-way audio communication system in which the participants
listen to the voice and respond immediately sitting at different places. People may listen to the
voice through radio or television and put their queries by using telephone.
Video-conferencing - Besides listening to the voice, the participants of the conference can also
see the picture of each other while talking themselves. This is called video-conferencing.
There are two different types of video conferencing process.
i. One-way video and two-way audio: In this system, the participants can listen to the voice and
see the picture of the persons sitting at the studio. The audience maintains a contact with the
studio through telephone and the persons at the studio listen to the voice of the participants.
ii. Both way audio and video: Here participants at both the end i.e., studio as well as audience
end, are able to listen to the voice and see the picture of each other while talking amongst
Types of Communication Medium
We divide the different types of communication medium into two different categories:
1. Physical media
2. Mechanical media
This site focus on the internal communication. Our listings of types of communication medium
therefore exclude external media.
With physical media we mean channels where the person who is talking can be seen and heard
by the audience. The whole point here is to be able to not only hear the messages but also to see
the body language and feel the climate in the room. This does not need to be two-way channels.
In certain situations the receiver expect physical communication. This is the case especially
when dealing with high concern messages, e.g. organizational change or down sizing. If a
message is perceived as important to the receiver they expect to hear it live from their manager.
Large meetings, town hall meetings
Department meetings (weekly meetings)
Up close and personal (exclusive meetings)
Viral communication or word of mouth
Large meetings have got great symbolic value and should be used only at special occasions. This
channel works very well when you need to get across strategic and important messages to a large
group of people at the same time, creating a wide attention, get engagement or communicate a
sense of belonging. Large meetings are excellent when you want to present a new vision or
strategy, inform about a reorganisation or share new values. The opportunity for dialogue is
limited at large meeting, of course but you can create smaller groups where dialogue can be
Weekly departmental meetings
In the weekly meetings you and your group communicate daily operative issues, gives status
reports and solves problems. Weekly meetings are also used to follow up on information from
large meetings, management team meetings etc from a “what’s-in-it-for-us-perspective”. This
type of smaller group meetings gives good opportunities for dialogue. This channel is often the
most important channel you have as a manager, because that’s where you have the opportunity to
build the big picture, you can prepare for change, you can create ownership of important
strategies and goals etc. This is a favourite among the types of communication medium.
Up close and personal
This is a form of meetings where, often, a senior manager meets with a “random” selection of
employees to discuss and answer questions. Some managers use this as a on going activities on a
monthly basis. It can also be used in specific projects or campaigns e.g. launching new strategies.
Or viral marketing as it is also called works external as well as internal and refer to marketing
techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in awareness or knowledge
through self-replicating viral processes. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the
network effects of social media.
The second of the two types of communication medium is mechanical media. With
mechanical media we mean written or electronic channels. These channels can be used as
archives for messages or for giving the big picture and a deeper knowledge. But they can also be
very fast. Typically though, because it is written, it is always interpret by the reader based on his
or her mental condition. Irony or even humour rarely travels well in mechanical channels.
Weekly letters or newsletters
Magazines or papers
E-mail is a good channel for the daily communication to specific target groups. It is
suitable mainly for up-to-date and “simple” messages and where there is no risk of
misunderstanding, E-mail is an important supplement to weekly meetings and the Intranet.
Invitation to and agenda for meetings can with advantage be sent out with e-mail before the
meeting, while background facts and minutes from meetings is well suited to be stored on the
Some short e-mail tips:
Wright short and to the point.
Target your messages to the audience and avoid sending unnecessary all-employees-e-
Set up your subject line to describe what the e-mail is about.
Clearly state if the message is for information or for action.
Avoid attaching large documents if possible. Post a link or direct to the source instead.
Managers that have large groups of employees and who has difficulties in meeting all of
them often choose to publish a personally weekly letter. It is sort of a short summary of news
with personally reflections. Many employees often appreciate it because it has the potential to
give the “what’s-in-it-for-us” angle. They can also contain summaries and status in tasks,
projects or issues – yesterday, today and tomorrow.
At special occasions it can be justified to send a personal letter to employees in order to
get attention to a specific issue. E.g. pat on the back letter after extra ordinary achievements. Or
it can be a letter with your personal commentary on an ongoing reorganization that affects many
employees. One other example is a letter that summarizes the past year and wishes all the best
for the holidays.
One of the most forgotten types of communication medium is clearly the billboard. Especially
today, when everything is about social media. But the good thing with the billboard is that you
can use billboards to inform people who does not have computers and/or access to the Intranet or
to reach people that work part time and does not attend weekly meetings.
Minutes from meetings
You can also use the billboard to gather ideas e.g. for items for upcoming meetings
The Intranet is of course one of the most used types of communication medium and a very
important communication channel and work tool for you as a manager, but it is also your job to
help your employees prioritise and pick out the information on the Intranet, as well as translating
messages into local consequences. Ask your self: what information concerns you employees? In
what way are they concerned? How do I best communicate this to my employees? Weekly
meeting or your weekly letter can be a suitable channel to discuss or inform of information found
on the Intranet.
A Magazine offers the opportunity to deepen a specific issue, explain context, describing
consequences or tell a story. It also has the opportunity to reach many employees. If you want to
create a broad internal understanding of strategic messages the magazine can be a good vehicle
to use e.g. by writing an article based on an interview with you. As were the case with the
Intranet you also have to “translate” the information in the magazine to your employees. You can
ask yourself: What does the content in a specific article mean to us? How shall I best
communicate it to the employees?
Or text messaging to the mobile phone is one of the new types of communication
medium and not a very widely used channel but where it is used it is proven very effective. Some
companies use it as an alert system e.g. for giving managers a head start when something
important will be published on the Intranet. The advantage with Sms is that it is fast. But it
should be used rarely as an exclusive channel. Some companies use it as a subscription tool
where you can subscribe to e.g press-releases.
Wikipedia describe social media as “Media designed to be disseminated through social
interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media
supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to
transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to
many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from
content consumers into content producers. Businesses also refer to social media as user-
generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”
More and more companies are using social media in their external marketing, setting up twitter
and Facebook accounts etc. But these channels are also used internal where managers become
“friends” on Facebook with their employees or where managers use blog and twitter targeting
Push or Pull
You can also divide the different types of communication medium in Push or Pull channels.
Push channels are channels where the sender are pushing the message to the receiver. Meaning it
is up to the sender to control the communication.
News letters and letters (if sent out)
Magazines (if sent out)
Pull channels on the other hand is when the receiver is pulling the message from the sender. It is
up to the receiver when he or she wants to take in the message.
New letters and letters (if not sent out)
Magazines (if not sent out)
Push channels are often regarded as having higher reliability than pull channels because of the
fact that it is more active in the communication.
The ambition Stairway
Choosing the right types of communication medium is first and most about understanding
your ambition with the communication. What effect is you looking for after you have
communicated? Increased knowledge, better understanding more motivation or involvement, or
do you want it to lead to some sort of action or changed behavior
The Ambition Stairway is a useful tool for you to use when deciding what channels to use for
your level of ambition. Witch gives you control of the different types of communication medium.
Also, it is important to realise that just publishing something on the Intranet will not get
employees motivated and involved.
Choosing the right channels for your messages
BUSINESS REPORT WRITING
As the business environment grows in its complexity, the importance of skillful
communication becomes essential in the pursuit of institutional goals. In addition to the need to
develop adequate statistical skills, you will find it necessary to effectively communicate to others
the results of your statistical studies. It is of little use to formulate solutions to business problems
without transmitting this information to others involved in the problem-solving process. The
importance of effectively communicating the results of your statistical study cannot be
Unfortunately, it seems that many business managers suffer from inadequate communication
skills. The December 1990 issue of the Training and Development Journal reports that
"Executives polled in a recent survey decry the lack of writing skills among job candidates." A
report in 1993 issue of Management Review notes the "liability imposed on businesses by poor
writing sills." The report states that employers are beginning to place greater emphasis on
communication in hiring practices. Many employers have adopted policies requiring job
candidates to submit a brief written report as part of the screening process. An August 1992 issue
of Marketing News reveals that "Employers seek motivated communicators for entry-level
marketing positions." Obviously, the pressing lack of adequate writing and communications
skills in American businesses is well documented.
Therefore, the purpose of this appendix is to illustrate some of the major principles of
business communication and the preparation of business reports. We examine the general
purpose and essential features of a report and stress the benefits of effective report writing.
Emphasis is placed on the customary form a business report should take and the format, content,
and purpose of its component parts. We will study illustrations of practical reports and the
problems will provide the opportunity for students to develop and sharpen their communication
The Need to Communicate
Most business decisions involve the cooperation and interaction of several individuals.
Sometimes dozens of colleagues and co-workers strive in unison to realize mutual goals. Lines
of communication must therefore be maintained to facilitate these joint efforts. Without
communicating ideas and thoughts it would be impossible to identify common objectives and
purposes necessary for successful operations. Without communication and the team effort it
permits, the successful completion of any important project can be jeopardized. Some aspects of
the project would be unnecessarily replicated while other tasks would be left unattended. Further,
in the absence of adequate communication, colleagues would find themselves working at Coors
purposes and perhaps pursuing opposing goals. What one team member may have worked to
assemble one day, a second team member may dismantle the next. Without communication the
chances for a successful outcome of any business endeavor are significantly reduced.
The Characteristics of the Reader
Business reports are quite often intended for a wide variety of different audiences. It is
critical that you carefully identify the intended audience for your report, otherwise it is likely that
your report will be misdirected and less effective. You should consider exactly what the readers
of your report already know and what they need to know to make informed decisions.
You should also consider the attitude the audience will adopt toward your report. If you
fear that the readers may be somewhat hostile toward your report, you may want to offer more
supporting evidence and documentation that you would if their reception was thought to be more
favorable. The educational background and work experience of the audience is also a key factor
in the formulation of your report. A report written for top executives will differ considerably
from the prepared for line supervisors in terms of style, word usage, and complexity. Even age,
gender, and other demographic characteristics might serve to shape the report.
One thing is certain. Whether you earn your livelihood as an accountant, a marketing
manager, a production supervisor, or a sales representative, you will work in a vacuum. You will
find it necessary to constantly communicate with others in order to successfully complete your
job. Generally speaking, the larger the institution in which you work, the greater will be the need
to prepare written reports. As the organization grows in complexity, so does the required degree
of formal communication.
The Purpose of Statistical Studies
Given the importance of communication, it should come as no surprise that the primary
purpose of a report is to convey information. In this effort, statistical reports are fairly concise
and follow a rather predetermined pattern. This familiar pattern permits easy recognition of the
essential features and allows the reader to quickly comprehend the study. We will examine two
types of statistical studies: Statistical reports and statistical abstracts.
These studies are quite similar to purpose and in the composition of their component
parts. However, a statistical report is the result of a more complete and exhaustive study. Its
focus is on complex issues that could affect the long-term future and direction of the
organization. It is used when decisions such as plant locations, major capital projects, and
changes in the product line are made. A statistical abstract, on the other hand, is used when the
problem is of less complexity and consequences. Each of these is examined in detail.
To complete a statistical report you must isolate the problem and collect the necessary
data. The population must be clearly identified and a sample carefully chosen. The researcher
then conducts the study and prepares to report the results.
As noted above, the procedure to be followed in reporting a statistical study consists of
rather precise and well-defined steps that may be modified only slightly. Immediately following
the title page the statistical report provides an account of its conclusions and recommendations.
In a business setting this opening statement is usually referred to as an executive summary.
The intent of the executive summary is to immediately provide the time-constrained
reader with the important facts and findings derived from the study. It summarizes these findings
and conclusions, along with any recommendations, and places them at the beginning of the
study. This placement provides easy access to the more important information relevant to any
decision that a manager must make. If the manger is interested in any further details, he or she
may consult the main body of the report.
The executive summary should be written in a non-technical manner. It is intended for
upper-level managers whose expertise often lies in business management and not in technical
fields such as chemistry, physics, or even, in many cases, statistics. They generally have little
concern for the technical aspect of the report. They only want to be assured that you have
considered all relevant business factors and followed proper scientific procedures in the
formulation of the report. If the reader then decides a more complete technical explanation, he or
she can read any additional portion of the report. The executive summary seldom exceeds one or
Although the executive summary precedes the main report when it is submitted in final
form, the summary is written only after the study has been conducted and the rest of the report
has been completed. The summary should include no new information not presented in the
report, and should not offer conclusions based on data or information not contained in the report.
The second step is a brief introduction describing the nature and scope of the problem.
Any relevant history or background of the problem that is essential to a thorough understanding
and provides clarification for the rest of the study should also be included. A statement is made
explaining why the resolution of this issue is important and the critical need to formulate a
course of action.
The third section of a statistical report is more technical than the rest of the study, as it
explains the exact nature of the statistical tests that you indeed to conduct. It describes in detail
the precise quantitative tools and techniques to be used, and reveals the manner in which they
will lead to the desired results. It is also customary to briefly characterize the data set and the
manner in which the sample was taken. This will become familiar to you as you gain an
increased understanding of statistical analysis and its many applications.
The methodology that you use will depend largely on what you want to accomplish. This
fact too will become more evident as you gain more insight into the process of statistical analysis
as described in this text.
It is here that the true statistical analysis is preformed. The findings consist of the actual
statistical computations that provide the information required to make decisions and
recommendations. These calculations may vary from simple descriptive techniques to the more
advanced inferential analysis. The computations are shown in sufficient detail to reveal and
validate the statistical test without providing needless information or becoming overly
In addition, comments regarding the computations are provided to note the results and draw
attention to their significance. That is, the results of the computations are merely cited or quoted.
No effort is made to discuss or interpret these computations. This is left for the next segment.
Discussion and Interpretation
Based on the findings from the he previous section, the researcher now woofers a
discussion and interoperation of the report's major implications. The researcher should provide
an interpretation of the findings in a meaningful and yet non-techincal sense. This section has a
considerable impact on the formulation of the solution to the problem described in the
introduction, which motivated the report.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This final segment often repeats some of the information found in the executive
summary, yet allows the researcher to explain in greater detail how and why the conclusions
were reached. A more complete discussion of the recommendations may also be included. It is
important that this section be based on the results of the findings and not other conclusions or
recommendations not supported by the analysis.
If reports are prepared in this organized form, they are inherently more useful and lend
the researcher a sense of credibility and authority. The report will command respect from those
who rely on it to make important decisions.
The statistical abstract is used when the issue is less complex and does not have the long
range implications associated with a statistical report. The statistical abstract is shorter and less
formal that the report form. Unlike the statistical report, the statistical abstract is seldom
accompanied by an executive summary. The less complex nature of the issue the abstract is to
address makes such a formal summary unnecessary.
Other than the executive summary, the abstract contains essentially the same features as
the report. However, the components parts of the abstract are much less detailed and shorter in
length. The statistical abstract can sometimes be presented in a single page. The following
discussion of the abstract's main components reveals that each resembles those found in the
statistical report, but in somewhat abbreviated form.
The introduction is a brief statement describing the motivation for the study. It explains
what problem or concerns prompted the study and why the study is important. Little or no
reference is made to historical developments as was the case with the report form.
As with the report form, the methodological statement contained in the abstract describes
in some technical detail the statistical tools and techniques that will be used to complete the
study. This is perhaps the most technical component of the abstract. A brief description of the
population and the manner in which the sample was taken is customary.
This section includes the actual statistical computations and implements the statistical
tools described in the methodology section. Due to the less involved, less complex nature of the
problem, this section may consist of only a few calculations, which will serve as the basis for the
study's conclusion. Brief commentary is provided regarding the outcome of the computations.
Discussion and Interpretation
Relying on the findings in the previous section, the researcher presents a discussion of the
study's findings and offers an interpretation. This interpretation translates the technical findings
for those who are less trained in statistical procedures.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The abstract may be completed without a conclusion or any statement regarding
recommendations. The study may have been requested by a superior who simply requires more
information to make his or her own managerial decision. This superior may consider a
recommendation for action as a usurpation of his or her administrative power. Remember, the
abstract is used when the decision to be made is of lesser consequence; the decision can often be
administered by a single authority. For this reason, a recommendation is not usually offered
unless specifically requested.
A cover letter, covering letter, motivation letter, motivational letter or a letter of
motivation is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a
résumé or curriculum vitaes
All cover letters should:
Explain why you are sending a resume.
Don't send a resume without a cover letter.
Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer
internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future
Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization — a flyer posted in
your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to
mention the name of someone who suggested that you write.
Convince the reader to look at your resume.
The cover letter will be seen first.
Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer.
Call attention to elements of your background — education, leadership, experience — that are
relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples.
Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills.
Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might
not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing
Indicate what you will do to follow-up.
In a letter of application — applying for an advertised opening — applicants often say
something like "I look forward to hearing from you." However, if you have further contact info
(e.g. phone number) and if the employer hasn't said "no phone calls," it's better to take the
initiative to follow-up, saying something like, "I will contact you in the next two weeks to see if
you require any additional information regarding my qualifications."
In a letter of inquiry — asking about the possibility of an opening — don't assume the
employer will contact you. You should say something like, "I will contact you in two weeks to
learn more about upcoming employment opportunities with (name of organization)." Then mark
your calendar to make the call.
Page margins, font style and size
For hard copy, left and right page margins of one to 1.5 inches generally look good. You can
adjust your margins to balance how your document looks on the page.
Use a font style that is simple, clear and commonplace, such as Times New Roman, Arial or
Calibri. Font SIZES from 10-12 points are generally in the ballpark of looking appropriate. Keep
in mind that different font styles in the same point size are not the same size. A 12-point Arial
is larger than a 12-point Times New Roman.
If you are having trouble fitting a document on one page, sometimes a slight margin and/or font
adjustment can be the solution.
Serif or sans serif? Sans (without) serif fonts are those like Arial and Calibri that don't have the
small finishing strokes on the ends of each letter. There is a great deal of research and debate on
the pros and cons of each. Short story: use what you like, within reason; note what employers
use; generally sans serif fonts are used for on-monitor reading and serif fonts are used for
lengthly print items (like books); serif fonts may be considered more formal. Test: ask someone
to look at a document for five seconds; take away the document; ask the person what font was on
the document; see if s/he even noticed the style. A too-small or too-large font gets noticed, as
does a weird style.
Should your resume and cover letter font style and size match? It can be a nice touch to look
polished. But it's also possible to have polished documents that are not in matching fonts. A
significant difference in style and size might be noticed. Remember that you can have your
documents reviewed through advising, and that might be a fine-tuning question you ask.
Sample cover letter format guidelines:
(Hard copy: sender address and contact info at top. Your address and the date can be left-
justified, or centered.)
Your Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Month, Day, Year
Mr./Ms./Dr. FirstName LastName
Name of Organization
Street or P. O. Box Address
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. LastName:
Opening paragraph: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or
position, and basic information about yourself.
2nd paragraph: Tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does
(Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter).
Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background
to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the
employer’s needs. (Focus on what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do
for you.) This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume. Refer
to the fact that your resume is enclosed. Mention other enclosures if such are required to apply
for a position.
3rd paragraph: Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk
with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. State what you will
do to follow up, such as telephone the employer within two weeks. If you will be in the
employer’s location and could offer to schedule a visit, indicate when. State that you would be
glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for
(Your handwritten signature [on hard copy])
Your name typed
(In case of e-mail, your full contact info appears below your printed name [instead of at the
top, as for hard copy], and of course there is no handwritten signature)
Enclosure(s) (refers to resume, etc.)
(Note: the contents of your letter might best be arranged into four paragraphs. Consider
what you need to say and use good writing style. See the following examples for variations
in organization and layout.)
Cover letters generally fall into one of two categories:
1. Letter of application: applying for a specific, advertised opening. See:
Sample 3.1: letter of application following personal meeting, hard copy version
Sample 3.2: letter of application for advertised position, e-mail version
Sample 3.3: letter of application for advertised position, e-mail version
Sample 3.4: letter of application for advertised position, hard copy version
2. Letter of inquiry: expressing interest in an organization, but you are not certain if there
are current openings. See:
Sample 3.5: letter of inquiry about employment possibilities, e-mail version
Sample 3.6: letter of inquiry about internship opportunities, hard copy version
Information-seeking letters and follow-up
To draft an effective cover letter, you need to indicate that you know something about the
employing organization. Sometimes, even with research efforts, you don’t have enough
information to do this. In such a case it is appropriate to write requesting information.
See Sample 4.1: Information seeking letter, hard copy version.
After you receive the desired information you can then draft a follow-up letter that:
Thanks the sender for the information;
Markets why you would be a good job candidate for that organization based on the information;
Explains why you are sending your resume.
....which means it does what all cover letters should do, as explained at the start above!
See Sample 5.2: Follow up letter to information seeking meeting.
Sample 3.1 — Letter of application, hard copy version
E-2 Apartment Heights Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
February 22, 2011
Dr. Michelle Rhodes
Principal, Wolftrap Elementary School
1205 Beulah Road
Vienna, VA 22182
Dear Dr. Rhodes:
I enjoyed our conversation on February 18th at the Family and Child Development seminar on
teaching elementary children and appreciated your personal input about balancing the needs of
children and the community during difficult economic times. This letter is to follow-up about
the Fourth Grade Teacher position as discussed at the seminar. I will complete my M.Ed. in
Curriculum and Instruction at Virginia Tech in May 2011, and will be available for
employment as soon as needed for the 2011-12 school year.
My teacher preparation program at Virginia Tech has included a full academic year of student
teaching. Last semester I taught second grade and this semester am teaching fourth grade.
These valuable experiences have afforded me the opportunity to:
Develop lesson plans on a wide range of topics and varying levels of academic ability,
Work with emotionally and physically challenged students in a total inclusion program,
Observe and participate in effective classroom management approaches,
Assist with parent-teacher conferences, and
Complete in-service sessions on diversity, math and reading skills, and community
My experience includes work in a private day care facility, Rainbow Riders Childcare Center,
and in Virginia Tech’s Child Development Laboratory. Both these facilities are NAEYC-
accredited and adhere to the highest standards. At both locations, I led small and large group
activities, helped with lunches and snacks, and implemented appropriate activities. Both
experiences also provided me with extensive exposure to the implementation of
developmentally appropriate activities and materials.
I enthusiastically look forward to putting my knowledge and experience into practice in the
public school system. Next week I will be in Vienna, and I plan to call you then to answer any
questions that you may have. I can be reached before then at (540) 555-7670. Thank you very
much for your consideration.
Sample 3.2 — Letter of application, e-mail version
Subject line: (logical to recipient!) Application for sales representative for mid-Atlantic area
April 14, 2010
Mr. William Jackson
Acme Pharmaceutical Corporation
13764 Jefferson Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
Dear Mr. Jackson:
From the Acme web site I learned about your need for a sales representative for the Virginia,
Maryland, and North Carolina areas. I am very interested in this position with Acme
Pharmaceuticals, and believe that my education and employment background are appropriate
for the position.
You indicate that a requirement for the position is a track record of success in meeting sales
goals. I have done this. After completion of my B.S. in biology, and prior to beginning my
master’s degree in marketing, I worked for two years as a sales representative with a regional
whole foods company. My efforts yielded success in new business development, and my sales
volume consistently met or exceeded company goals. I would like to repeat that success in the
pharmaceutical industry, using my academic background in science and business. I will
complete my M.S. in marketing in mid-May and will be available to begin employment in
Attached is a copy of my resume, which more fully details my qualifications for the position.
I look forward to talking with you regarding sales opportunities with Acme Pharmaceuticals.
Within the next week I will contact you to confirm that you received my e-mail and resume
and to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you very kindly for your consideration.
Layne A. Johnson
5542 Hunt Club Lane, #1
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Resume attached as MS Word document (assuming company web site instructed applicants to
Sample 3.3 — Letter of application, e-mail version
Subject line: (logical to recipient!) Application for marketing research position #031210-528
March 14, 2010
Ms. Charlene Prince
Director of Personnel
Large National Bank Corporation
Roanoke, VA 24040
Dear Ms. Prince:
As I indicated in our telephone conversation yesterday, I would like to apply for the marketing
research position (#031210-528) advertised in the March 12th Roanoke Times and World
News. With my undergraduate research background, my training in psychology and sociology,
and my work experience, I believe I could make a valuable contribution to Large National
Bank Corporation in this position.
In May I will complete my B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at Virginia Tech. As
part of the requirements for this degree, I am involved in a senior marketing research project
that has given me experience interviewing and surveying research subjects and assisting with
the analysis of the data collected. I also have completed a course in statistics and research
My experience also includes working part-time as a bookkeeper in a small independent
bookstore with an annual budget of approximately $150,000. Because of the small size of this
business, I have been exposed to and participated in most aspects of managing a business,
including advertising and marketing. As the bookkeeper, I produced monthly sales reports that
allow the owner/buyer to project seasonal inventory needs. I also assisted with the
development of ideas for special promotional events and calculated book sales proceeds after
each event in order to evaluate its success.
I believe my combination of business experience and social science research training is an
excellent match for the marketing research position you described. Enclosed is a copy of my
resume with additional information about my qualifications. Thank you very much for your
consideration. I look forward to receiving your reply.
250 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Resume attached as MS Word document
Sample 3.4 — Letter of application, hard copy version
1000 Terrace View Apts.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
March 25, 2010
Ms. Janice Wilson
Anderson Construction Company
3507 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20895
Dear Ms. Wilson:
I read in the March 24th Washington Post classified section of your need for a Civil Engineer
or Building Construction graduate for one of your Washington, DC, area sites. I will be
returning to the Washington area after graduation in May and believe that I have the necessary
credentials for the project.
Every summer for the last five years I have worked at various levels in the construction
industry. As indicated on my enclosed resume, I have worked as a general laborer, and moved
up to skilled carpentry work, and last summer served as assistant construction manager on a
two million dollar residential construction project.
In addition to this practical experience, I will complete requirements for my B.S. in Building
Construction in May. As you may know, Virginia Tech is one of the few universities in the
country that offers such a specialized degree for the construction industry. I am confident that
my degree, along with my years of construction industry experience, make me an excellent
candidate for your job.
The Anderson Construction Company projects are familiar to me, and my aspiration is to work
for a company that has your excellent reputation. I would welcome the opportunity to
interview with you. I will be in the Washington area during the week of April 12th and would
be available to speak with you at that time. In the next week to ten days I will contact you to
answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sample 3.5 — Letter of inquiry about employment possibilities, e-mail version
Subject: (logical to recipient!) Inquiry about software engineering position after completion of
M.S. in computer engineering
December 12, 2009
Mr. Robert Burns
President, Template Division
9845 Technical Way
Arlington, VA 22207
Dear Mr. Burns:
Via online research in Hokies4Hire through Career Services at Virginia Tech, I learned of
MEGATEK. Next May I will complete my master of science in computer engineering. From
my research on your web site, I believe there would be a good fit between my skills and
interests and your needs. I am interested in a software engineering position upon completion of
As a graduate student, I am one of six members on a software development team in which we
are writing a computer-aided aircraft design program for NASA. My responsibilities include
designing, coding, and testing of a graphical portion of the program which requires the use of
ZX-WWG for graphics input and output. I have a strong background in CAD, software
development, and engineering, and believe that these skills would benefit the designing and
manufacturing aspects of template software. Enclosed is my resume with further background
My qualifications equip me to make a contribution to the project areas in which your division
of MEGATEK is expanding efforts. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss a position
with you, and will contact you in a week or ten days to answer any questions you may have
and to see if you need any other information from me. Thank you for your consideration.
123 Ascot Lane
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Resume attached as MS Word document
Sample 3.6 — Letter of inquiry about internship opportunities, hard copy version
2343 Blankinship Road
Blacksburg, VA 24060
January 12, 2010
Ms. Sylvia Range
Special Programs Assistant
Marion County Family Court Wilderness Challenge
303 Center Street
Marion, VA 24560
Subj: Wilderness Challenge internship position
Dear Ms. Range:
This semester I am a junior at Virginia Tech, working toward my bachelor's degree in family
and child development. I am seeking an internship for this summer 2010, and while
researching opportunities in the field of criminal justice and law, I found that your program
works with juvenile delinquents. I am writing to inquire about possible internship opportunities
with the Marion County Family Court Wilderness Challenge.
My work background and coursework have supplied me with many skills and an understanding
of dealing with the adolescent community; for example:
10 hours per week as a volunteer hotline assistant for a local intervention center. After a
50-hour training program, I counseled teenagers about personal concerns and referred
them, when necessary, to appropriate professional services for additional help.
Residence hall assistant in my residence hall, which requires me to establish rapport
with fifty residents and advise them on personal matters, as well as university policies.
In addition, I develop social and educational programs and activities each semester for
up to 200 participants.
My enclosed resume provides additional details about my background.
I will be in the Marion area during my spring break, March 6-10. I will call you next week to
see if it would be possible to meet with you in early March to discuss your program.
Thank you for your consideration.
Stacy Lee Gimble
Sample 4.1 — Information seeking letter, hard copy version
23 Roanoke Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
October 23, 2010
Mr. James G. Webb
Delon Hampton & Associates
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 720
Washington, DC 20001-8000
Dear Mr. Webb:
Next May I will complete my bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Virginia Tech, and am
researching employment opportunities in the Washington area. I obtained your name from
Professor (lastname) who teaches my professional seminar class this semester. S/he indicated
that you had volunteered to provide highly motivated graduating students with career advice,
and I hope that your schedule will permit you to allow me to ask for some of your time and
advice. I am particularly interested in historic preservation and have done research on the DHA
website to learn that your firm does work in this area. I am also interested in learning how the
architects in your firm began their careers. My resume is enclosed simply to give you some
information about my background and project work.
Within two weeks I will call you to arrange a time to speak to you by telephone or perhaps visit
your office if that would be convenient. I will be in the Washington area during the week of
November 22. I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my request, and I look
forward to talking with you.
Sample 5.2 — Follow-up letter to information seeking meeting, e-mail version
Subject: (logical to recipient!) Thank you for meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23
November 26, 2010
Mr. James G. Webb
Delon Hampton & Associates
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 720
Washington, DC 20001-8000
Dear Mr. Webb:
Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to meet with me on Tuesday. It
was very helpful to me to learn so much about the current projects of Delon Hampton &
Associates and the career paths of several of your staff. I appreciate your reviewing my
portfolio and encouraging my career plans. I also enjoyed meeting Beth Ormond, and am glad
to have her suggestions on how I can make the most productive use of my last semester prior to
Based on what I learned from my visit to your firm and other research I have done, I am very
interested in being considered for employment with DHA in the future. I will be available to
begin work after I graduate in May 2011. As you saw from my portfolio, I have developed
strong skills in the area of historical documentation and this is a good match for the types of
projects in which your firm specializes. I have enclosed a copy of my resume to serve as a
reminder of my background, some of which I discussed with you when we met.
During the next few months I will stay in contact with you in hopes that there may be an
opportunity to join your firm. Thank you again for your generous help, and I hope you are
enjoying a pleasant holiday.
23 Roanoke Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
(E-mail version of course has no handwritten signature, and your signature block appears
below your name at the close.)
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