Communications or Communication?

All professional communicators should probably know this.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Communications or communication?

The word com­mu­nic­a­tions (with an ‑s) dif­fers from com­mu­nic­a­tion (without an ‑s).

Of course, that seems obvi­ous. However, many use these words incor­rectly — even with­in the pub­lic rela­tions industry!

Here we go:

Communications or Communication

Communications vs Communication - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Communications vs communication.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Communications or Communication?

The terms “com­mu­nic­a­tions” and “com­mu­nic­a­tion” are often used inter­change­ably, yet they embody sep­ar­ate con­cepts with­in the con­text of lan­guage, tech­no­logy, and the study of human inter­ac­tion. 1Rivera, K. (2017). Communication vs Communications. Csusm​.edu. https://​www​.csusm​.edu/​c​o​m​m​u​n​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​/​m​a​j​o​r​_​d​i​f​f​e​r​e​n​c​e​s​.​h​tml 2Communication vs. Communications – Differences Between Master’s Programs. (2024, January 2). MastersinCommunications​.com. https://​www​.mas​tersin​com​mu​nic​a​tions​.com/​f​a​q​s​/​c​o​m​m​u​n​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​-​v​s​-​c​o​m​m​u​n​i​c​a​t​i​ons

  • Communication. Refers to trans­mit­ting inform­a­tion and under­stand­ing from one entity to anoth­er. It is a broad term encom­passing all forms of inter­ac­tion that con­vey mean­ing, includ­ing verbal and non-verbal exchanges, writ­ten mes­sages, and visu­al com­mu­nic­a­tions. This concept is found­a­tion­al in the study of com­mu­nic­a­tion the­ory, high­light­ing the mech­an­isms of mes­sage trans­mis­sion, recep­tion, and inter­pret­a­tion between indi­vidu­als or groups. It focuses on the dynam­ics of the exchange, includ­ing the con­text, chan­nels, effect­ive­ness, and bar­ri­ers to understanding. 
  • Communications. Refers to the sys­tems, tech­no­lo­gies, and meth­ods for trans­mit­ting mes­sages over dis­tances. It includes the tools and infra­struc­ture that facil­it­ate the exchange of inform­a­tion, such as tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions net­works, the inter­net, and mass media plat­forms. Communications can also per­tain to the fields of study and pro­fes­sion­al prac­tice that deal with these sys­tems, includ­ing engin­eer­ing, tech­no­logy man­age­ment, and inform­a­tion the­ory. While com­mu­nic­a­tion is about the essence of mes­sage exchange and under­stand­ing, com­mu­nic­a­tions focus more on the tech­nic­al and pro­ced­ur­al aspects of how mes­sages are sent and received across dif­fer­ent mediums.

While com­mu­nic­a­tion cap­tures the human aspect of shar­ing and inter­pret­ing inform­a­tion, com­mu­nic­a­tions delves into the tech­nic­al realm of mes­sage trans­mis­sion sys­tems and technologies.

Understanding the nuances between com­mu­nic­a­tions vs com­mu­nic­a­tion two can provide deep­er insights into the nature of trans­mit­ting inform­a­tion and inter­per­son­al and mass com­mu­nic­a­tion dynamics.

Learn more: Communications or Communication

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Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Communications Synonyms

Communications Synonyms - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Communications syn­onyms (and explanations).
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Communications Synonyms

Contrary to pop­u­lar belief, “com­mu­nic­a­tion” and “com­mu­nic­a­tions” aren’t inter­change­able. Communications (with an ‑s) refers to the means used to trans­mit information.

Merriam-Webster sug­gests the fol­low­ing 25 syn­onyms for com­mu­nic­a­tions: 3Thesaurus res­ults for COMMUNICATIONS. (2024). Merriam​-Webster​.com. https://​www​.mer​ri​am​-web​ster​.com/​t​h​e​s​a​u​r​u​s​/​c​o​m​m​u​n​i​c​a​t​i​ons

  • mes­sages
  • dis­patches
  • let­ters
  • reports
  • news
  • memor­anda
  • bul­let­ins
  • memos
  • memor­andums
  • com­mu­niqués
  • notices
  • intel­li­gence
  • instruc­tions
  • notes
  • epistles
  • expresses
  • missives
  • tid­ings
  • e‑mails
  • dir­ect­ives
  • words
  • voice mails
  • elec­tron­ic mails
  • com­mands
  • orders

The word com­mu­nic­a­tions (with an ‑s) is often found in pro­fes­sion­al set­tings, such as Communications Department, Corporate Communications, Crisis Communications, Communications Plan, Communications Strategy, etc.

Noteworthy: “Public Relations” is syn­onym­ous with “Strategic Communications” (i.e. using com­mu­nic­at­ive means to achieve com­pet­it­ive objectives).

Learn more: Communications Synonyms (With Explanations)

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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