Public Relations Inquiry as Rhetorical Criticism: Case Studies of Corporate Discourse and Social Influence

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

9
Janus in the Looking Glass The Management of Organizational Identity in Corporate Recruitment Videos

Theresa A. Russell-Loretz1

A young woman's voice is heard as the camera follows her to the podium during graduation ceremonies: When I was little, I never understood what mom meant when she said, "Clean your plate Cindy, there are places where kids are starving." Well, mom, now I am old enough to understand--and I love you and daddy for teaching me to care. That's why I'm eager to walk into a Dow lab . . . to work on new ways to help grow more and better grain for all the kids who need it so desperately. I can't wait. I'll be doing something that really matters. 2

With this introduction to its recruitment video, Dow attempts to titillate college job seekers' aspirations for employment. Dow's video segment, which ran in part as a television commercial, might be familiar. Dow's recruitment message may be familiar as well to those who have visited their campus placement center. This familiarity stems from the rhetorical characteristics the message shares with other organizational attempts to influence the employment decisions of college graduates.

In their attempt to attract college graduates as potential employees, recruitment videos serve to "adjust people to organizations and organizations to people," the crux of what Crable and Vibbert ( 1986) describe as the function of public relations (p. 5). Indeed, Crable and Vibbert's description of the function of public relations is based on the function of rhetoric identified by Bryant: "adjusting people to ideas, and ideas to people" ( 1953, p. 413). In the case of recruitment videos, of course, the "idea" to which college job seekers are adjusted is the concept of employment with a particular company. Inherent in this

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