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Building and maintaining a good reputation and brand awareness as a professional or company is essential to guarantee success in the short and long term. An important aspect here is communication.

There are many ways in which you can achieve communication and build a good reputation and relationship with customers. One of these is Lasswell's communication model. What exactly is Lasswell's communication model and what does it entail?

What is Lasswell's communication model?

Lasswell's communication model is based on the theories and insights of Harold Lasswell, an American psychologist and sociologist who, in 1948, turned his teachings into a practically useful model.

The model basically describes who says something, what is said, which channel is used to convey the message, who is the recipient of the message and what the effect of the message is.

Today, Lasswell's communication model is still one of the most used models in companies, communication science and PR. It is a widely applicable transmitter-receiver model with a classic basis, which proves its added value in many sectors and situations.

The five components of Lasswell's communication model

Lasswell's communication model actually mainly concerns so-called verbal communication and includes five components or steps. It is a linear action model that essentially describes a process in one-way communication. The simplicity of the model makes it an extremely flexible method and is therefore one of the most common communication models.

The five components of the model provide tools for the analysis and evaluation of the communication process. The questions that belong to that model are:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Which channel?
  • To who?
  • With what effect?

The answers to these questions ultimately provide insight into the way in which people or companies communicate with each other. Below we take a closer look at the 5 basic questions of the model and what exactly they entail.

1. Who?

By 'who' we are of course talking about the sender or communicator, who pronounces or formulates a message and then distributes it. This could be the initial originator of the message, but could also be an intermediary.

Analysis: we are talking about a control and management analysis, which gives the sender the power to communicate with another party.

2. What?

When we think of 'what' we think of the content of the message or message from the sender or communicator.

Analysis: if we examine the 'what' of this model, we see that there is a relationship with the purpose of the message or its possible ulterior motive.

3. Which channel?

'Channel' refers to the media or medium that the sender uses to spread his or her message. This medium can consist of various means of communication, such as social media, a newspaper or radio.

Analysis: do we analyze the media used? Then we find out which medium is best suited to conveying the message to the recipient as clearly as possible.

4. To whom?

'To whom' refers to the recipient(s) of the message. This may involve a single individual, but it can also involve a complete target group (as is often the case with mass communication). Another word for that is public.

Analysis: the analysis of media and audience clearly indicates which medium is best suited for conveying the message to the target group, as clearly and effectively as possible.

5. What effect?

Finally, 'Effect' refers to the outcome of the message sent and what the additional, possibly indirect consequences are. The so-called attitude triangle is often examined with the aspects 'knowledge, attitude and behavior'. Based on this you can better describe the desired or expected outcome.

Analysis: In fact, the analysis of the effect starts from the beginning of the model. This makes it easier to create a message that appeals to the target group and therefore produces the desired effect.

Lasswell's communication model for businesses

Communication within companies logically involves more than just Lasswell's linear model. When it comes to organizations that rely on communications advice, this model can certainly deliver good results based on the answers to the five basic questions and analysis of the outcomes.

The result is that a corporate communications consultant or marketing specialist has a better view of the best campaigns for that specific company. What message is sent via which channels, by whom, for whom and what is the effect?

The rather theoretical basis of Lasswell's Communication Model is difficult to interpret in practice. That's why we provide an example of how that model works below.

An example of Lasswell's communication model

Suppose a perfumery chain wants to appeal to more young women, between the ages of 15 and 25. At the moment, their collection is mainly popular among women between 25 and 55 years old.

Research shows that younger women and girls are also interested in the products they offer such as make-up or perfumes, but that this target group prefers to shop online.

The challenge

Until now, the perfumery chain has mainly limited itself to offline marketing, but Lasswell's communication model can also help attract the right potential consumers online. Below is a breakdown of each of the five components of this model as applied to this campaign development venture:

1. Who communicates?

In this case it concerns the chain itself, which wants to present itself as a modern company with an online offering.

2. What is the message?

The most important message is that the chain now also offers products online and is active on social media. The online offering ranges from make-up to perfumes from many leading brands. Other important messages may include:

  • Home orders are possible
  • 24 hour delivery

When determining the 'what' in this case, it is important that the language used is tailored to the target group. Because they are younger women and girls, it is better to use an informal form of address (you or you), as this appears more modern.

3. Which channel?

The perfumery chain can use billboards and other physical advertising options, as well as online advertisements on Facebook and social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. Because this is where young women and girls spend a lot of time.

4. Who exactly is the message intended for?

As mentioned, the message is aimed at young women and girls aged 15 to 25 who like to shop online.

5. What effect exactly should the message have?

The ultimate goal is for the younger target group to purchase products via the webshop or sign up for a newsletter. The latter makes it easier for the company to stay in touch with this target group, which increases the chance of an online purchase in the future.

Lasswell's communication model for a successful advertising campaign

Lasswell's communication model was initially intended for the analysis of mass communication, but it also proves to be a useful basis for interpersonal forms of communication and target group communication. At the time Lasswell put his theory into practice, only a few channels of communication existed, such as television, newspapers and radio.

Today, companies also use the model to analyze communications at a large-scale level, making it an indispensable tool for companies looking to improve their campaigning.

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