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Punto Cero

versão On-line ISSN 1815-0276

Punto Cero v.14 n.19 Cochabamba  2009


Towards a Theory for Professional Communications.
Discourse and Communication Elements in Contemporary Marketing and PR Strategies

Hacia una teoría para comunicaciones profesionales.
Discurso y elementos de comunicación en Estrategias Contemopráneas de Marketing y Relaciones Públicas

Fee-Alexandra Haase

German. PhD and MA Master of Arts, University of Tübingen, Germany. Professor College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Languages, University of Nizwa, Oman.


This article examines elements of discourse in professional communication using examples of marketing, PR, and advertising focusing on the communicative functions that serve the major aims of each of the professional communication fields we define as values. It follows the rhetorical definition of communication as a persuasive figure of speech and demonstrates this impact in examples. This professional mass media communication in marketing, PR, and advertising serves commercial interests. It aims to incorporate the audience into the flow of discourses that is set up for serving the commercial interests.

Keywords: Discourse, Professional communication, Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising, Rhetoric, Mass media


Este artículo examina los elementos del discurso en la comunicación profesional con ejemplos de marketing, relaciones públicas y publicidad, referida a las funciones comunicativas que sirven a los objetivos principales de cada uno de los campos de la comunicación profesional definidos como valores. De ello se desprende la definición retórica de la comunicación como una figura de persuasión de la palabra y se demuestra en los ejemplos este impacto. Este profesional de los medios de comunicación de masas en marketinj, relaciones públicas, y la publicidad sirve a los intereses comerciales. Su objetivo es incorporar a la audiencia en el flujo de los discursos que se haya creado para servir a los intereses comerciales.

Palabras clave: Discurso, Comunicación profesional, Marketing, Relaciones Públicas, Publicidad, Retórica, Medios de comunicación


Este artigo analisa os elementos do discurso na comunicação profissional através de exemplos de marketing, relações públicas, publicidade e focando as funções comunicativas que servem os objetivos principais de cada um dos campos profissionais da comunicação que define como valores. Segue-se a definição de retórica da comunicação como uma figura de linguagem persuasiva e demonstra este impacto nos exemplos. Esta massa de profissionais dos meios de comunicação em marketing, relações públicas, publicidade e serve a interesses comerciais. Destina-se a incorporar o público para o fluxo de discursos que é criada para servir os interesses comerciais.

Palavras chave: Discurso, Comunicação Profissional, Marketing, Relações Públicas, Publicidade, Retórica, Mass media

1. Introduction: Discourse as Research and the Question

 “What is the Impact of Discourse on Professional Communication?”

The pragmatic function of rhetorical categories in mass media contents has brought a long tradition of fields of analysis such as rhetorical analysis, literary criticism basically for the medium book, and mass media criticism and rhetorical analysis for contents of the mass media. Also communication studies, while considered a separate field or studies, derive from the rhetorical system and the ‘communicatio‘ as a rhetorical figure stands for the ‘turning to the audience for consultation’ of the speaker. Our interest in this article is the naming and description of categories of rhetoric suitable for mass media communication. Among the categories suitable for mass media communication are:

1.    Rhetorical Figures describing Mass Communication Media

2.    Rhetorical Relation between Speaker and Audience

3.    Persuasion and the Aims of Rhetoric “to move, to teach, and to entertain”

Marketing, PR, and Advertising are fields of professional communication. Persuasion in marketing communication aims to find ways to sell persuasively products on the market. Persuasion in PR aims to give a positive image of a corporation. Persuasion in advertising aims to persuasively inform an audience about product eith the interest to sell the product. Discourses are formal strategies to reach the aims and the communication as a persuasive consultation is a functional strategy to successfully convince the audience to spend money on a product or service.

1.1.The Concept of Discourse and Professional Mass Media Communication

What are discourse elements in professional media communication? Discourse elements in professional media are constitutive elements serving for the commercial success of persuasion in marketing, PR, and advertising. Discourse, a word derived from Latin discursus (“running to and from”) comprises the meanings “written or spoken communication or debate” or “a formal discussion or debate.” The term is often used in semantics and discourse analysis. In semantics, discourses are linguistic units composed of several sentences in written texts, conversations, arguments, or speeches. In discourse analysis the word “discourse” is often used as shorthand for “discursive formation” meaning large heterogeneous discursive entities. Peirce traces back the expression universe of discourse: “Universe (in logic) of discourse, of a proposition, &c. In every proposition the circumstances of its enunciation show that it refers to some collection of individuals or of possibilities, which cannot be adequately described, but can only be indicated as something familiar to both speaker and auditor.” (PEIRCE 1902: N.p. (‘Universe (2)’, DPP 2 / CP 2.536, 1902)).

Discourse analysis is according to the Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences “an important theme in post-modernism especially in writers like Michel Foucault (1929-1984) for whom it is important to analyze how people talk about the world around them. The central idea is that the way people talk about the world does not reflect some objective truth about that world, but instead reflects the success of particular ways of thinking and seeing. These ways of thinking and seeing tend to become invisible, because they are simply assumed to be truthful and right, and in this way people’s thought processes themselves can come to represent and reinforce particular regimes of power and coercion.” (ONLINE DICTIONARY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES: n.y.: n.p. Online). Leps wrote that “Angenot, Bakhtin, and Foucault deploy the concept of discourse differently, yet their texts variously attribute a crucial role to fiction in the cultural production of knowledge and power relations. Together, their historical analyses set forth an eminently pertinent set of theoretical and methodological tools for contemporary cultural studies.“ (LEPS 2004: 263). Amossy wrote about doxa in argumenantive discourse: “Based on a rhetorical approach, claiming that shared values and beliefs work not only for communication but also for verbal efficacy,” Amossy in this essay explored “the constructive functions of doxa in literary and nonliterary genres of discourse. Instead of condemning commonplaces in the name of innovation, or of denouncing collective representations by exposing their ideological foundations, the analysis of argumentation in discourse views doxa as an essential ingredient of all literature, classical and modern.” For Amossy “rhetorical topoi as empty structures (Aristotle’s topoï koinoï) are distinguished from pragmatical topoi in Oswald Ducrot’s sense and from commonplaces in the positive sense of the term; the notions of idée reçue, of cliché, and of stereotype are described and reinterpreted in an argumentative perspective stressing their fundamental role in human communication. Expressed through a series of implicit and explicit forms—previously discussed within different disciplines and here integrated in a coherent model of text analysis—doxa appears as a condition of intersubjectivity and as a constitutive element of any verbal interaction.” (AMOSSY 2002: 465).

2. Discourse Elements in Professional Mass Media Communication

2.1. Discourse Elements in Marketing


According to the professional Glossary of Marketing Communications Terminology media are “channels of communication that serve many diverse functions, such as offering a variety of entertainment with either mass or specialized appeal, communicating news and information, or displaying advertising messages.” (Glossary of Marketing Communications Terminology). Marketing Communications is an expression for media and their messages used to communicate with a market practicing advertising, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales promotion and online marketing. The professionals performing marketing communications are called marketing communicators or marketing communication managers. Marketing communication is related to the media of print, but also can include academic and professional research as strategic elements of branding and marketing. Each individual step in a business process contains a number of so-called touchpoints when the customer comes in contact with a brand. Corporate stakeholders are persons, groups, organizations, or systems who communicate with an organization’s actions. Marketing Communications is divided into:


Public Relations


Direct Marketing

Event Marketing

New Media

Mann argued that “the structural ideals of cultural life stand in a give-and-take relationship with those of economic life. In the contemporary Western world this involves a recognition of the omnipresence of late or consumer capitalism (…), and the further recognition that this form of economic organization is grounded in certain structural ideals that escape from the realm of economics to deeply influence the general shape of our culture.” (MANN 2002: 78). Marketing as a professional field aims to find ways and means to distribute a product. The American Marketing Association in its Statement of Ethics mentions Ethical Norms and Values for Marketers. Ethical norms are:

Do no harm.

Foster trust in the marketing system.

Embrace ethical values.

Ethical Values are:


Strive to be truthful in all situations and at all times.







Case Study I: Transparency as a Value of Marketing

Transparency refers to the rhetorical category of perspicuitas. The American Marketing Association refers to transparency as follows:

“Transparency – to create a spirit of openness in marketing operations. To this end, we will:

Strive to communicate clearly with all constituencies.

Accept constructive criticism from customers and other stakeholders.

Explain and take appropriate action regarding significant product or service risks, component substitutions or other foreseeable eventualities that could affect customers or their perception of the purchase decision.

Disclose list prices and terms of financing as well as available price deals and adjustments.”


In classical rhetoric perspicuity (perspicuitas) is described as transparency and clearness tropically standing for evidentness, clearness, and perspicuity. Quintilian writes in the Institutio Oratoria (8.2.1) on perspicuity (perspicuitas) that the perspicuity in words arises from a certain propriety; but propriety itself is not accepted in a simple way; for the first intellect is the naming of anything, which we shall not always use, for we shall avoid the obscene, offensive, or mean: “Perspicuitas in verbis praecipuam habet proprietatem, sed proprietas ipsa non simpliciter accipitur. Primus enim intellectus est sua cuiusque rei appellatio, qua non semper utemur. Nam et obscena vitabimus et sordida et humilia.” (QUINTILIAN n.y.: n.p. Online). Balkin wrote: “Without mass media, openness and accountability are impossible in contemporary democracies. Nevertheless, mass media can hinder political transparency as well as help it.” (BALKIN n.y.: n.p. Online). Balkin wrote on transparency: “Today political transparency is virtually impossible without some form of mass media coverage. However, mass media can frustrate the values of political transparency even while appearing to serve those values. When politicians and political operatives attempt to simulate transparency and appropriate the rhetoric of openness and accountability, the mass media does not always counteract the simulation. Indeed, it may actually tend to proliferate it.” (BALKIN n.y.: n.p. Online). For Aristotle (Rhetoric 1.4) the main matters on which all men deliberate and on which political speakers make speeches are some five in number: ways and means, war and peace, national defence, imports and exports, and legislation. (ARISTOTLE n.y.: n.p. Online). The aims of marketing is to make someone buy a product or the make the person believe in a set of values. This is an aim we can call a persuasive action. It may include the classical elements of movere, docere, and delectare, but it can also be based upon other features. The advertisement is a means to publish and send related information the audience, which can be used by both marketing and Public Relations. Often the advertisement connotes the product with features that are actually not relevant for the product, but give the audience the impression that more values are connected to it than the product or object actually has. The belief system behind the products is actually the realm produced by advertisements, Public Relations, and Marketing. Marketing is interested to bring the products on the market and to find ways to sell them. Interestingly, in the history of rhetoric the use of rhetoric in order to sell objects is a relative late development. And, more interestingly, the act of selling is actually not a rhetorical one. The marketing and advertisement industry placed objects in a rhetorical context or surrounding, but the object to be sold doesn’t take part in the rhetorical action. It is a visual argument or topos in the argumentation that circles around higher, in most cases abstract values.

Case Study II: Rhetorical Tradition of Marketing Formulas

For Write Design Online the Cyberspace is an environment with its own geography in which we experience a change of documents on our screen as a visit to a distant site on a worldwide web. Editing means going over a written piece to correct mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, punctuation, style); could also be called proofreading and is not to be confused with revision. Navigation is the ability to move through virtual landscapes (cyberspace). Orienting ourselves by landmarks, mapping a space mentally to match our experience, and admiring the juxtapositions and changes in perspective that derive from moving through an intricate environment. A Style sheet in desktop publishing program, style sheets contain the typographic specifications to be associated with tagged text. They can be used to set up titles, headings, and the attributes of blocks of text, such as lists, tables, and text associated with illustrations. The use of style sheets is a fast and efficient way to insure that all comparable elements are consistent. Visualizing means to recall or form mental images or pictures, to make visual or visible, to form a mental image of, and to make perceptible to the mind or imagination. (WRITE DESIGN ONLINE n.y.: n.p. Online). According to MSH Marketing Group, in marketing language a buzzword is “a trendy word or phrase that is used more to impress than explain.” (MSH MARKETING GROUP n.y.: n.p. Online). Buzz marketing is an expression used for ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising, when potential customers pass round information about a product. Copywriting is the creative process by which written content is prepared for advertisements or marketing material and a skilful manipulation of words that increases the understanding of the reader. The AIDA formula consists of Attention, Interest, Desire, Action as a model describing the process that advertising or promotion use in order to sell successfully to a prospective customer. (MSH MARKETING GROUP n.y.: n.p. Online). Bullard, a marketing professional, applied the AIDA formula for an advertisement in the following case:

Attention: Can’t Afford A New Car Right Now? You’re not alone!

Interest: Dan’s Auto Repair Service is here to help. Why go for a new car when we can update your current one just like new? (Benefit)

Desire: (Benefit) Imagine the savings you can pocket by having your present car completely refinished!

Action: Head down to Dan’s Auto Repair today and stop in for a free estimate.

 (BULLARD n.y.: n.p. Online)

Marketing essentials are often placed in formulas using alliteration, e.g. according to The Channel Professional:

Four M’s

Money, Material, Machine and Manpower. Business resources referenced in a marketing plan.

Four P’s

Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. The basic foundational elements of traditional marketing.

 (THE CHANNEL PROFESSIONAL n.y.: n.p. Online).

2.2. Discourse Elements in PR


Public Relations as a professional field came up at a time, when rhetoric had its decline. Of course PR’s aim is a persuasive one aiming to bind the audience to the company or the organization the PR activities are made for. Since a major area of classical PR is based upon writing, for example press releases, here the application of rhetoric is helpful. A news release provides journalists with the basic information for a news story, we could also name them ‘pre-written information’ and the event described may or may not refer to the objectivity that journalism claims to follow as a journalistic value. The new event of fact is here pre-written by the source or under the control of the source that is interested in the distribution of the information. Electronic Press Kits and videos or other forms of media serving the distribution of medial news may support the aim to spread the news. Here the additional sample of a product may support the authenticity and serves for the evidence of the product.

Samarasinghe wrote in “Conceptualizing a Strategic Communication Process Model for Crisis-Mode Public Relations Management”: “Unlike decades past when a crisis PR situation meant that one had a minimum of a day to develop a strategic plan of action (or more often reaction) before the media coverage reached maturity and the visual news went national or international, today we are challenged by a pervasive instantaneous media force. For instance, a bystander can videotape or digitally record an incident with a cell phone or digital camera, and within seconds of witnessing an event email the footage directly to a news network with satellite connections to the world. Add to this mix a thousand additional blog sites and then multiply by a hundreds of thousands more emails. Consequently, there is a greater need for diagnostic tools for public relations that more accurately reflects today’s crisis communication process.” (SAMARASINGHE n.y.: n.p. Online). According to McQuarrie and Mick, a rhetorical figure can be defined as “an artful deviation in the form taken by a statement”. For them three reasons why consumer research needs to address the topic of rhetorical figures exist: “First, newly available content analyses have demonstrated the pervasiveness of figuration in the language of advertising. Moreover, the reliance on rhetoric is not exclusive to American or European culture. The second reason stems from the continued inadvertent use of rhetorical figures in experimental protocols, without appreciation for their history and distinctiveness. Third, the paradigmatic ferment associated with the advent of postmodern, semiotic, and text-based perspectives is conducive to a focus on rhetorical phenomena in advertising.” (MCQUARRIE; MICK 1996: Online). Heath wrote in A Rhetorical Perspective on the Values of Public Relations: Crossroads and Pathways Toward Concurrence: “A rhetorical perspective on public relations draws on the rich rhetorical heritage of Western civilization that originated with the writings of ancient Greeks and Romans. This heritage offers rationale for the ethical practice of public relations. It explains how public relations participates in the creation and implementation of value perspectives that shape society. It supports the practice of public relations in the marketplace and public policy arena, where values are brought to bear on economic and sociopolitical matters. The rhetorical heritage of public relations features the role of public discourse through which ideas are contested, issues are examined, and decisions are made collaboratively. In this way, concurrence is achieved to guide personal and societal decisions.” (HEATH 2000: 75). Hill, O’Sullivan, and O’Sullivan stated: “These sophisticated tools have presented arts marketers with a comprehensive single source of data which relates ticket sales immediately to customer databases. As a result, the whole organization can achieve an integrated view of the customer which feeds into accounting, marketing, operations and development – literally customer centred. The danger of such a comprehensive system is, of course, information overload and the temptation to interact with computers rather than people. But, appropriately applied, the exciting result is that the rhetoric of relationship marketing becomes achievable.” (HILL: O’SULLIVAN; O’SULLIVAN 2003: 5).

Rhetoric and Public Relations

Roberts wrote in Exercises in Rhetorical Form: Teaching Public Relations from a Praxis Perspective: “There are a number of reasons why praxis-oriented public relations education is important in the current historical moment, not the least of which is the aforementioned dearth of pedagogical research on public relations in general.” (ROBERTS 2006: n.p. Online). Generally, we can assume relying on Visual Rhetoric that “advertising is the most common manifestation of visual rhetoric and perhaps the most recognizable. Ever since the first advertisement in 1704, brands and companies have attempted to sell their ideas, products, and services to the public through various rhetorical strategies.” (VISUAL RHETORIC n.y. n.p. Online). According to Visual Rhetoric, “all advertisements contain the same elements: artwork, a headline, copy, and a logotype. The advertisers work hard to make sure all the components flow together and speak the same voice. Each element should reinforce and complement the others in order to create an effective advertisement that makes sense.” (VISUAL RHETORIC n.y. n.p. Online). In Figures of Rhetoric in Advertising Language McQuarrie and Mick wrote that “rhetoricians maintain that any proposition can be expressed in a variety of ways, and that in any given situation one of these ways will be the most effective in swaying an audience. Hence, when persuasion is the overriding goal, the rhetorical perspective suggests that the manner in which a statement is expressed may be more important than its propositional content.” (MCQUARRIE; MICK1996: Online). In Toward a Meta-Rhetoric of Pictorial Media: Specificity, Pictorality and Compound Signs Johansson wrote: “Supposedly, the imagery of advertisements should on the contrary be exhaustive to intuition. […] System analysis seems conceived of as an approach to the level of immediate communication.” (JOHANSSON 1996: n.p. Online).

Marketing is the way in which a product or media text is sold to a target audience. A form of action in marketing is agenda-setting. Agenda-setting is the ability of the media to tell people what and whom to talk and think about. Also refers to those media that have more credibility than their competition. In marketing the audience is the group of consumers for whom the media text was constructed as well as anyone else who is exposed to the text. Consumers are the audience for whom a commercial media text is constructed and who responds to the text with commercial activity. (BOLES n.y. n.p.. Online). In marketing brands often use a personification that is recognizable and supports the identification of the product. In the Anheuser-Busch International Advertising and Marketing Code the product beer is put in a context of principles for a positive appearance in public. This portrayal marketing puts the product in the current legal system and health and social customs: “Three basic principles, which have long been reflected in our company’s policies and practices, continue to underlie these guidelines. First, our advertising shall not suggest directly or indirectly noncompliance with any of the laws applicable to the sale and consumption of beer. Second, we shall adhere to standards of candor and good taste applicable to all commercial advertising. Third, we strongly oppose the abusive or inappropriate consumption of our products.” (ANHEUER-BUSCH n.y. n.p. Online). Branding is the process by which a commodity in the marketplace is known primarily for the image it projects rather than any actual quality. (ANHEUER-BUSCH n.y. n.p.. Online). Ind stated: “Finally, consumer rhetoric aside, the job of marketing in virtually all firms is to assist managers in the task of maximizing the value generated by our operations, by ‘feeding’ these operations with the orders that keep the firm alive and generate the returns it so desperately needs. Again, this is perfectly natural and understandable. But along the way it also subtly influences the role of marketing and therefore of brands.” (IND 2005: 98). Solomon in Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers On Emotions wrote: “Market-based consumer-oriented economic systems generate invidious comparisons as a way of increasing consumption. The mass media, television dramas, songs, and advertisements present riveting and reigning fantasies and models of desirability and success. They are brilliantly designed to affect patterns of consumption, to present images of satisfied desire, reinforcing the range of emotion-based motives that sustain the very social and political arrangements that structure them.” (SOLOMON 2004: 145). The rhetorical demonstratio finds its counterpart in the marketing promotion of products in front of the eyes. In marketing in-store demonstration is a promotion where samples of a product are distributed to customers in a store. The goal of an in-store demonstration is to introduce customers to the product in hopes of getting them to purchase that item. Products that often are sampled during in-store demonstrations are new products or new versions of already existing products that have recently been introduced to the commercial marketplace, and that the manufacturers are attempting to advertise.

Complex forms of the figures of speech such as the parable or allegory can be transferred into both the literal and visual media. An organization builds or establishes its reputation. The media contents analysis used as a tool for the efficiency of PR campaigns also used a topological structure examining the action with the questions Who? What? When? Why? Where? How? One of the declared aims of PR is the appearance of an object (person, organization, etc.) in a positive way. This can be achieved by the use of the three principles of rhetoric (movere, delectare, docere). For Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.7) what aims at reality is better than what aims at appearance. We may define what aims at appearance as what a man will not choose if nobody is to know of his having it. This would seem to show that to receive benefits is more desirable than to confer them, since a man will choose the former even if nobody is to know of it, but it is not the general view that he will choose the latter if nobody knows of it. What a man wants to be is better than what a man wants to seem, for in aiming at that he is aiming more at reality. One of the aims of PR is to make the object of PR appear in a “good light”. Can the goodness of a thing be transferred to another thing. Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.6) writes regarding this quality: “We may define a good thing as that which ought to be chosen for its own sake; or as that for the sake of which we choose something else; or as that which is sought after by all things, or by all things that have sensation or reason, or which will be sought after by any things that acquire reason; or as that which must be prescribed for a given individual by reason generally, or is prescribed for him by his individual reason, this being his individual good; or as that whose presence brings anything into a satisfactory and self-sufficing condition; or as self-sufficiency; or as what produces, maintains, or entails characteristics of this kind, while preventing and destroying their opposites. One thing may entail another in either of two ways; simultaneously or subsequently.” (ARISTOTLE n.y.: n.p. Online). When one thing is entailed in another thing and this thing is good, both things are good. For Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.7) what is rare is a greater good than what is plentiful. Thus, gold is a better thing than iron, though less useful: it is harder to get, and therefore better worth getting. Reversely, it may be argued that the plentiful is a better thing than the rare, because we can make more use of it. For what is often useful surpasses what is seldom useful, whence the saying: The best of things is water. For Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.7) a thing which surpasses another may be regarded as being that other thing plus something more, and that other thing which is surpassed as being what is contained in the first thing. Aristotle in the Rhetoric (1.7) also applies the term “good” to what is desirable for its own sake and not for the sake of something else; to that at which all things aim; to what they would choose if they could acquire understanding and practical wisdom; and to that which tends to produce or preserve such goods, or is always accompanied by them. (ARISTOTLE n.y.: n.p. Online).

Every medium including television, radio, movies, magazines, newspapers, video games, and the internet is used to deliver advertisement messages. The relation between rhetoric and advertisements and PR has only partially been discussed. DeRosia proposed that consumers must devote a nontrivial level of cognitive effort if they are to comprehend nonverbal symbolic signs and metaphors. (DEROSIA 2008: 308). PR contains elements of rhetoric. Mackey argued that public relations could be made a legitimate and surprisingly important academic discipline through a deeper understanding of notions of rhetoric. (MACKEY 2003: n.p. Online). Roberts argued that communication programs, especially those based in the humanities, must focus their concerns on developing in their students both theoretical sophistication and work-related capability. (ROBERTS 2006: n.p. Online). Free Think is a blog published by Maxwell PR promoting PR described as follows: “This spirited, open forum by Maxwell PR staff members, studio mates and colleagues features people who are, in our opinion, doing the right things to get people talking. You’ll see us rave about organizations building communities and rant about those who are missing obvious opportunities. We sprinkle in a little marketing and PR rhetoric from time to time for extra vigor and enthusiasm, and will share observations and insight based on our own experience honing our craft every day.” (FREE THINK n.y. n.p. online). In the rhetorical system the genus laudativum was the genre describing the object praising its qualities (besides the political genre and the deliberative genre). One of the declared aims of PR is the appearance of an object (person, organization, etc.) in a positive way. This can be done by the use of the three principles of rhetoric (movere, delectare, docere). PRSA values of the Member Code of Ethics 2000 are as follows:







(PRSA n.y. n.p. online)

De Uribe-Salazar wrote in Communication Creates Value: “Over the past century, public relations have evolved from “press agent” tasks to managing the reputation and corporate image in its broadest sense. Today, not only do public relations practitioners deal with the press, but they also administer clear information policies with an organization’s surroundings, whether with public administrations, social and economic agents, the consumers, civil society.... by means of creating, planifying, implementing and evaluating the institutional relations programs, social responsibility actions, internal communication, group motivation and cohesion, civic participation, among other activities.” (DE URIBE-SALAZAR n.y. n.p. online). Smith in Strategic Planning for Public Relations refers to rhetoric emphasizing ethos as the quality of “convincing communicators” besides credibility, control, and charisma (SMITH 2009: 122-123). De Chernatony stated: “If marketers are able to identify the rules of meaning that consumers have devised to encode and decode symbolic communication, they can make better use of advertising, design and packaging. For example, gold has been enshrined in our culture as a symbol of wealth and authority and can convey meanings of luxury, love, importance, warmth and eternity. But to use this as the prime colour on a box for a cheap, mass produced plastic moulded toy car runs the risk of it being interpreted as vulgar. Some researchers postulate that brands act as communicative sign devices at four levels. At the most basic level, the brand acts as a utilitarian sign.” (DE CHERNATONY 2003: 134). De Chernatony refers to semiotic relations in marketing when writing that “the symbolic meaning of brands is strongly influenced by the people with whom the consumer interacts. A new member of a social group may have formed ideas about the symbolic meaning of a brand from advertisements, but if such a person hears.” (DE CHERNATONY 2003: 135).

Orality in PR: Planned Strategies of Persuasion?

In the Rhetorica ad Herennium (3.4) is written that we shall use the topics of wisdom (prudentia) in our discourse (in dicendo) if we compare advantages and disadvantages, counseling the pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other; if we urge a course in a field in which we have a technical knowledge of the ways and means (ratio) whereby each detail should be carried out; or if we recommend some policy in a matter whose history we can recall either from direct experience or hearsay (aut praesens aut audita memoria). In this instance we can easily persuade (persuadere) our hearers to the course we wish by adducing the precedent. Word-of-mouth is the informal way in which media products become known by audiences. (RHETORICA AD HERENNIUM n.y.: n.p. Online). Word-of-mouth advertising used to be unpaid and can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations or the spreading equating a brand with a common noun or phrase also refers to word of mouth advertising. Oral communication as systematically planned gossiping is used in public relations. On March 14, 2008 in the PR release Let’s Make the Argument Ricard Edelmann wrote about the effectiveness of Word-of-mouth influence for selling:

“Second, PR offers a credibility advantage because information is thoroughly vetted and examined by the media, bloggers and independent third-parties. According to Forrester Research, nine of ten people do not trust advertising, while nine of ten people do buy on the basis of peer recommendation.” (EDELMANN n.y. : n.p. Online).

Ibrian released on May 18, 2008 the article Word of Mouth: The Marketing Figures noticing that Church of the Customer published that the “word of mouth” is an “engine for business growth” relying on figures of the London School of Economics: A 7% increase in positive word of mouth unlocks 1% additional company growth. A 2% reduction in negative word of mouth boosts sales by 1%. Companies with above-average positive word of mouth grow four times as fast as those with below-average positive word of mouth. (IBRIAN 2008: n.p. Online). According to the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, orality is practiced using testimonials. Testimonials are used in PR. Three types of testimonials or product recommendations exist: “An expert says...”, “Famous People Say...”, “Plain Folks Say…” are the statements that are placed to guarantee the quality of a product. (NATIONAL PARK SERVICE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: n.y. n.p. Online). According to Ind, “managers, economists, policy makers and opinion leaders of organizational systems can now design and steward brands that respect living system dynamics. Win–win is a natural human construct that means that, when you make different promises to two or more groups of people, you are doing so knowing how to keep all of those promises because they are mutually reinforcing.” (IND 2005: 166). Goldstein and Findley wrote: “One way to exert influence on asocial class in a culture is to identify and target opinion leaders. They are chosen on the basis of expertise as well as social position. Exposure to mass media is significantly greater among opinion leaders than among non leaders-and mass media directly influence opinion leaders.” (GOLDSTEIN, FINDLEY 1996: 57). Opinion leaders are persons on public life that express opinions and through the support of the mass media influence the public’s opinion about the issue. These persons are not selected according to specific professions. The opinion leaders can be recruited from the groups of celebrities in the arts, politicians, and business persons. Smith wrote in Strategic Planning for Public Relations: “An opinion leader is an influential role model who has the respect and confidence of the public. Members of publics look to opinion leaders as they obtain information, form attitudes and opinions, and determine action. Opinion leaders are particularly useful because they generate word-of-mouth support, perhaps the most effective type of communication precisely because opinion leaders are independent.” (SMITH 2009: 123). According to the PR Glossary of MediaMiser, the following parts of management fall under to profession of PR:

Communication Management

Crisis Management

Issues Management

Relationship Management

Reputation or Image Management

Resource Management

Strategic Management

 (MEDIA MISER n.y. : n.p. Online)

According to this PR Glossary, the “public relations role that calls for developing communications objectives that are consistent with an organization’s overall objectives. As two-way communicators, public relations practitioners interact directly with key publics, relaying the resulting information (with recommendations) to other members of the management team.” PR Glossary refers directly to the three functions of rhetorical speech to entertain and to delight (delectare) and to move (movere), when writing about a feature that “it is designed to enlighten, entertain, and/or educate readers.” In the definition of PR Glossary a feature is “a story that gives detailed information on an issue, a trend, a situation, an industry, a company or organization, or a person. A feature often focuses on the human element. It is designed to enlighten, entertain, and/or educate readers. Feature stories can be submitted to community newspapers and magazines (query first) on paper or on disk. Camera-ready features can be created and sent to community newspapers as well. Ideas for features can be pitched to various media. Feature stories can be submitted to community newspapers and magazines (query first) on paper or on disk. Camera-ready features can be created and sent to community newspapers as well. Ideas for features can be pitched to various media.” (MEDIA MISER n.y. : n.p. Online). PR professionals like Bottle PR use specific terms for stylistic written presentations and oral presentations of PR. Composition is a term used for the “different types of audiences that make up the target audience.”. Keywords are “specific words or phrases often within a press release. Many professionals use keywords in order to search for specific publications or features.” WOM stands for “word-of-mouth/word-of-mouse marketing where ‘people networks’ promote the message without outside influence or management.” (Bottle PR n.y. : n.p. Online).

3. A Contribution to a Theory on Professional Communication

Criticism of the Concept and Practice of Mass Media Communication

Contemporary rhetorical theorists are interested in rhetoric in a wide area of fields beyond the spoken and written word. This is a development reacting on the extended media of communication. It comprises visual and acoustic phenomena and the products such as music, film, radio, and television. Product placement is a covert advertising embedding a product or brand in entertainment or media. For example stars at the reception of the Oscars Nomination are dressed by designers that ensure that their fashion is this way published. In movies cars of a brand are used that ensure the company an audience of the people watching the movie. Advertising on the World Wide Web is a recent phenomenon. E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon occurring often as unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising called spam. Since the product and the seller have a single, financial, aim with the exchange of the product against the money and this is not an equal relation, but an arbitrary one, the seller will add values to the product to make it more valuable. These values are imaginative (image) or real (gift, get 2 for 1). The point is that after the product is produced, the financial value is an arbitrary one. Even if it has been produced for 5 dollars, the financial value can be 2 dollars or 200 dollars.

 Sending Communicators: Commercial Interests

 Money Flow                        Product/ Service Flow


Persuasion in Marketing Communication Appeal to Financial and purchase transaction (money against product)

Persuasion in PR                Appeal to Image of Product

                                       and Service /Public Opinion

 Persuasion in Advertising   Appeal to Product


 Receivers:                    Product Interests (potential)

Communication Theory for Professional Communications

Professional mass media communication in marketing, PR, and advertising serves commercial interests. It aims to incorporate the audience into the flow of discourses that is set up for serving the commercial interests. It targets public opinion for commercial interests. The professional communication is successful, if the financial exchange has been done and the product/ service is available for the consumers. Marketing, PR, and advertisement will always claim to communicate something “good” or “valuable” from their perspective. This claimed value can be a real value (“the healthy food”) or an imaginative value (“feeling healthy with a specific kind of food”). Products in the circle of marketing, PR, and advertising are presented as valuable. In other words: Values are attributed to the products in professional mass media communication.

Marketing The Value of Money

PR The Value of Positive Relations

Advertising The Value of Product Values

Values of Products and Services in Professional Media Communication

When someone was interested to market a product persuasively, he/she could add rhetorical values to the product. For example Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.5) defines happiness (eudaimonia) as prosperity combined with virtue, as independence of life, as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure, or as a good condition of property and body together with the power of guarding one’s property and body and making use of them. Parts of happiness are for Aristotle good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honor, good luck, and virtue. For Aristotle in his Rhetoric (1.18) the use of persuasive speech serves to lead to decisions. This is so even if one is addressing a single person and urging him to do or not to do something, as when we scold a man for his conduct or try to change his views: the single person is as much your “judge” as if he were one of many; we may say, without qualification, that any one is your judge whom you have to persuade (ARISTOTLE n.y. : n.p. Online)). The decision in advertisement is to buy the product, in PR to associate the company in a positive surrounding, and in marketing to find a way that the product is distributed for selling. In the Rhetorica ad Herennium (3.7) the praiseworthy (laudabile) is what produces an honorable remembrance, at the time of the event and afterwards. The author separates the praiseworthy from the right (rectum), not because the four parts (partes), which he lists under the appellative right usually fail to engender this honorable remembrance, but because, although the praiseworthy has its source in the right, we must nevertheless in speaking treat one apart from the other. We should pursue the right not alone for the sake of praise; but if praise accrues, the desire (voluntas) to strive after the right is doubled. When, therefore, a thing is shown to be right, we shall show that it is also praiseworthy, whether in the opinion of qualified persons (ab idoneis hominibus), or of certain allies, or all our fellow citizens, or foreign nations, or our descendants. (RHETORICA AD HERENNIUM n.y. : n.p. Online). Mediality is as a element of professional communication bound to the technical features of processing an information. The medium or the channel responsible for the communication process is the dominant feature of the specific form of the information communicated in marketing, advertisements, and PR. So the medium picture has specific features from the characteristic visual channel and can be used in all three professioanal fields. The oral message depends on the sounds and the acoustically received information for example for a PR speaker. The written message is characterized by the linguistic features of this medium and can be applied for all three media. As tools of mediality we classify here all kinds of technical non-human tools that are able to convert the contents of communication –information- either from one medium into another or keep information in one medium stored and enable so the information to be accessed within a communication process, when the stored information is transfered. So mediated information has the same properties like the communication channels we described before. The exception is that mediated information processing is not in need of a human activity. For example an automatically generated email answer can be send after a financial transaction. Medial or mediated communication also comprises the communicative tools in the technical surrounding of a communication network. If for example a company has an intranet, the participating workers are all depending on a high level of mediality in order to process their information. Tools of mediality have in general – as a specific feature – compability to other media channels of information. Professional communication fields serve as media for economic exchange. Their information transfer is directed and determinate for the exchange of a service or product against money. The transfer of information is the main aim of communication and runs in channels the providers of marketing, PR, and advertising must define. The selection of channel and contents of communication ensures that the information is processed and directed towards the participating entities that are receivers and potential customers. Functioning for the transfer of information, the communication basically is a medium for the persuasion of purchase. The information processed has in the form of the communication channel the most suitable form to match the interest of the customer to buy the product. Persuasive values are used to enhance the potential to purchase a product. These values are communicated in professional mass media communication.

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Recepción: 26/08/2009

Aprobación: 22/12/2009

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