Revisiting strategic communication's past to understand the present

Richard D. Waters (Department of Communication, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
Jennifer L. Lemanski (Department of Communication, University of Texas‐Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Publication date: 10 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is to compare the communication styles on the web sites of a random sample of the top American corporations and non‐profit organizations. By revisiting the traditional approach to understanding strategic communication, the four models of public relations provide insights into the direction and nature of organizational communication.


A random sample of Fortune 500 (n=180) and Philanthropy 400 (n=170) was conducted. Although public relations research has never measured internet communication using the four models, the researchers created original scales to measure their web performance.


The research reveals that both corporations and non‐profits have strong preferences for using one‐way communication on their web sites. However, both groups moderately incorporated two‐way communication practices as corporations were more likely to use two‐way research practices and non‐profits were more likely to engage in conversations online.


This research examines organizational communication by returning to a previous method of analysis that has been cast aside by current scholars. However, assessing communication from the models of public relations perspective provides insights that current research strategies have not provided because they assume two‐way communication is the preferred form of communication.



Waters, R. and Lemanski, J. (2011), "Revisiting strategic communication's past to understand the present", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 150-169.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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