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

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

value system. They seemed to provide ground for advocacy efforts that appear more lofty. So "Observations" should not be ignored. The universal appeal of the cartoon format, the identification with the famous people who are quoted (even if out of context), the "public interest" messages, the published views and suggestions of readers, the reports of favorable public opinion polls: indeed, all the available means of influence are used. More importantly, they are used in a medium uniquely suited to this collage of strategies. The newspaper magazine section surrounds the argumentation with a blanket of recipes, helpful hints, human interest stories, and special features. The magazine section, like Mobil Oil, is a part of America's Sunday afternoon.


NOTES
1.
"Observations," "Family Weekly" ( 1976, July 11). Lafayette, Indiana Journal and Courier, p. 8. "Family Weekly" is a Sunday newspaper magazine that is purchased by various newspapers and newspaper chains across the country. "Observations" also appeared in the Sunday magazine sections of larger metropolitan newspapers. Materials for this study were drawn from the Journal and Courier's "Family Weekly," from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution's "Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine," and from "Atlanta Weekly," that magazine's successor. They will be abbreviated as FW, AJCM, and AW, respectively, in the remainder of the citations.
2.
For a discussion, see The New York Times, August 26, 1975, editorial opinion, p. 30. Ultimately, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 15, 1975, and by the Senate on December 17, 1975.
3.
Mobil acknowledges that its Op-Ed and related corporate advocacy were designed to reach "opinion leaders," while Observations was intended to serve a less elite audience (see "Industry fights back," 1978).
4.
The sample includes 43 columns from 1976, 35 columns from 1977, 26 columns from 1978, 26 columns from 1979, and 19 columns from 1980. The samples vary primarily because the appearance of "Observations" was irregular through these years.
5.
Recall that Mobil was opposed to the precipitous decontrol of oil prices when its fellow titans quickly embraced this gift. Mobil's use of conservation as an argumentative topic reflects a conservative corporate policy that is premised on Promethean forethought.

-46-

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