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The messages which circulate on the regulated channels within an organization make up formal communication. The American political scientist and communication theorist Harold Lasswell popularized the concept of the communication channel in his 1948 paper The Communication of Ideas. According to Lasswell's framework, any communication can be described by answering the following questions:
In which channel?
With what effect?
The "channel" describes the means by which the information is communicated.
Formal channels typically fall into one of four broad categories:
Electronic: Communications that are delivered and accessed electronically, either by computer, television, fax, telephone, or other devices . Examples include email, intranet, video and webcasts, DVD, electronic newsletters, podcasts, blogs, wikis, voicemail, conference calls, SMS text messaging, desktop alert messages, desktop news feeds, and internal social media tools (e.g., internal Twitter-style sites such as Yammer).
Print: Examples include memos, letters, newsletters, brochures, postcards and fliers, posters, and communication packs or "toolkits" for line managers. Print forms of communication are widely used as a form of formal communication.
Face-to-face: One-to-one and one-to-many forums where people are physically present. Examples include a variety of types of meetings, including a "cascade" of team meetings or briefings, conferences, site visits, consultation forums, "brown bag" lunches, round-table discussions, and "town meetings. "
Workspace: Examples include notice boards, plasma and LCD screens, accessories (e.g., Mouse Mats), and window decals.
Regardless of the channel used, formal communications are transmitted by authorized senders over official channels and are received by individuals who need to react, or know the content of these messages.
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