Action Assembly Theory for Soical Media

Effective communication is like the key to the practice of public relations while understanding your target audience is like the door. 

Public Relations requires a need for not only indentifying your target audience, but also knowledge and understanding of their thoughts and behaviors.  The action assembly theory, which was developed by John Greene, helps us to understand the link between our audience’s cognitive thoughts and their behaviors.  Bryan Whaley and Wendy Samter explain that the action assembly theory “attempts to explain how people formulate meanings and produce verbal and nonverbal behaviors that bear some relations to those meanings by describing how the mind carries out these activities,” (Whaley, 2007, p.166). Central to this theory is that we know about things and how to do things, (Littlejohn, 2002, p.100).  This helps us to explain, why our thoughts determine our behaviors.

Greene described this theory by using a model airplane kit. Since they usually contain more pieces then what is actually needed to build the plane, (Greene, 2009, p.114).  The way that he explains his theory is that we use our own “procedural records that we have from our long term memory to construct the pieces together” to make the specific airplane we want, (Greene, 2009, p.115).

The action assembly theory opens the idea that you have to know what your target audience is thinking in order to predict/know what they are going to do. 

So, how does this relate…

to Public Relations?

I found a great explanation from a blog post by prgroup13. They said “Public relations requires a company to determine how an audience will react to its campaigning strategies. In order to do so, the company must figure out who its target audience is, find out what they are thinking and, therefore, discover the behavior tendencies of that specific audience. These behavior tendencies can be seen as a prediction for how audiences will react to the company’s campaigning strategies,”

Social Media?

Social media outlets, allow for the action assembly theory to be applied within a matter of minutes. Thanks to these networks, companies can have their consumer’s responses to not only a product or service that the company offers, but also their opinion on the company itself in a matter of minutes. Social media outlets also allow customers an outlet to express their real thoughts.   


Whaley, B. and Samter, S. (2007).  Explaing communications: contemporary theories and exemplars (chapter 9, p.166). Rertrieved from

 Greene, J. O., & Griffin, E. (2009). A First Look at Communication Theory (7thth ed.). McGraw-Hill. Retrieved January 25, 2010


1 Comment

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One response to “Action Assembly Theory for Soical Media

  1. Brittany Maree

    This post is really interesting. This theory is extremely important for PR students and practitioners to understand. You must understand how to target your audience after you define them. I think it is interesting how this theory relates to social media. It has changed how we communicate and the time span for how long it takes to receive this information. It is great for companies to receive immediate feedback about what they are doing. That makes it easier to monitor their progress. I am glad you shared this information with us. I am in small group communication and this will be useful for one of our projects.

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