Disclosure and transparency involve two-way communication.
Two-way communication is something that you may have learned about in your previous coursework. It includes a message sender and a message receiver and adds feedback. Another way to think about two-way communication is to call it symmetrical communication. What should be highlighted in this model is the concept of feedback.
The receiver not only hears the message, but also listens to it, interprets it and responds to the sender.
Communication is further enhanced because both the sender and the receiver are active and involved in it. Disclosure is considered two-way communication because the practitioner sends a message to his/her publics and then awaits the public’s response.
The practitioner listens to the feedback and then adjusts the message based upon it when appropriate. This step makes the communication between the organization and the public more authentic and powerful because the practitioner demonstrates that what the public says matters. Therefore, listening to publics is often key to creating a dynamic and trusting communication environment, as the Page Principles remind us.
Disclosure and transparency can provide organizations with many benefits, but only when they build authenticity and trust. When communication is transparent and authentic, it builds trust. This helps practitioners build relationships with important publics. Transparency and disclosure are also important to publics and society because they allow for a democratic society and the free flow of ideas. Finally, transparency and disclosure help to enhance the profession of public relations because they help those outside the field to better understand what public relations is, what public relations is not, and the field’s commitment to ethical, truthful and symmetrical communication.
An important part of symmetrical communication is the concept that publics are informed and consent to the actions that members are taking. A public should not be asked for consent to an action without all the necessary information. Practitioners need to inform the publics involved so they can be informed and consent ethically to a decision. Having the consent of a public is an important important goal of many public relations campaigns, but in the long run only consent based upon information shared between an organization and its publics will build long-lasting relationships.Next Page: Case Study: Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis