Triangular Communication Article Review

In Lou C. Williams and David M. Dozier’s study, Triangular Communications: The Who, Why and How, I think that what they found is not only interesting but also very true. I have worked in several jobs where communication with the managers and the customers was almost as important as the regular sales people interacting with the customers.


Communications is a key to running any kind of business or organization, whether it is within the big guys or just the everyday people who interact with the customer and product. In Williams’ and Dozier’s study, they looked to prove that “an effective communication audit emerges from the use of this simple three-way communication process” (p.1, 2008). What they were trying to prove is just like L.A. Grunig and J.E. Grunig argued, “Knowledge of advanced practices is not enough, however. To put such expertise to use, communication departments need CEOs and dominant coalitions to understand such practices and expect them from their communication departments. Under such conditions, communication becomes essential to strategic management and the smooth operation of organizations” (1995).


For Williams and Dozier, the word audit is defines as a “systematic process managed by the practitioner consultant to” find issues and problems, that motivate customers to talk to its public, collect background information, conduct research, and suggest actions that should take place to address these issues/problems.  Along with this definition, they included several processes and goals that go along with the audit. These included effectively using communication, determining the “leverage” of communication, determine the effectiveness of the channel of communication, find how audiences are reacting/getting the communications, develop a measurement of success, and to build a communication plan (p. 3, 2008).


According to the coorientation model, management tends to think that they know about the publics and the facts of the situation. However, the practitioners truly know these facts. This is where there is misunderstand which can cause problems. These problems include “false consensus and pluralistic ignorance”. Overall, “the goal of the triangular communications model is to ensure that audits have and instrumental or conceptual impact on the organizations that sponsor them” (p. 4, 2008).


For Williams and Dozier to find an audit successful, the criteria they based them off were: “Did management accept/understand the results of the study? Did management get involved in “solutions” to issues? Did the audit have legs, i.e., did it create a lasting attention to making the changes that were recommended? and were the changes that were made as a result of the audit strategic rather than only tactical?” (p. 6, 2008). What they found out of the 22 cases studied: 13 of the audits were considered successful, seven were lacking success, and two were not judged. Of the 13 successful, 11 included senior management interviews were 10 were considered intimate senior management involvement. Of the seven less successful, five had little or no senior management involvement.


Basically, I learned that in all areas of business, whether it is the public relations practitioners, a communications employee, the CEO, or just a sales person, all areas of communication are VERY important in getting to understand your client and what your overall business needs. Communication is key to everything. Even if you are not interacting every day with the client, you should be in the know. That is keep up with their stats, maybe even look at their blogs, or online profiles to understand what their needs and wants are. Also, make sure your company is working on satisfying those needs.


I found it surprising that some management had little or, even more surprising, no involvement in the communication/audit of the client. I think is this unspeakable because if you are to run a company/organization you need to understand who you are dealing with and their needs and wants.


This article is relevant to my company, UPS, because I believe they would fall in the category of the 13, and even in the 10 that were highly involved. I think they do have a true understanding of their consumers and they strive daily to meet those needs. They listen and work for the clients.





Dozier, D.M., Grunig, L.A., & Grunig, J.E. (1995) Manager’s guide to excellence in public relations and communication management. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erbaum Associates.


Williams, L.C. & Dozier, D.M. (2008) Triangular Communications: The Who, Why, and How. Public Relations Journal, 2 (3), 1-12


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