Communication practices of US elected and non‐elected officials : Toward a new model of government communication

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Journal of Communication Management

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The purpose of this study is to refine and expand an emerging US government communication model, the government communication decision wheel, by testing the differences between the communication practices of US public sector communicators working for non‐elected officials versus those employed by elected officials.


Drawing from surveys of 781 US government communicators, the study compares the communication practices and influences of government communicators working for elected officials versus non‐elected officials.


The study identifies four significant differences and five similarities in how the public sector environment affects non‐elected and elected officials’ communicators’ public relations practices.

Research limitations/implications

While the study and underlying model focus on US government communication, this study provides valuable theoretical insights. It supports the model's underlying premise that the public sector is unique from the private sector while also further refining the significant differences within the US government sector.

Practical implications

This study helps US government communicators identify unique environmental attributes that affect communication activities in the public sector. It helps identify how these attributes affect communication practices within individual and collaborative contexts. Finally, it helps non‐governmental communicators and communicators outside of the US to understand how the attributes may affect communication practices when they collaborate with government communicators from the four levels of US government as well as with those who work for elected and non‐elected officials.


Despite the critical importance of communication in the public sector, very little research focuses specifically on government communication outside of political communication. The findings provide valuable insights for practitioners and contribute to public relations theory development for the under‐researched public sector.


The version of record can be found through OCLC WorldCat.