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

By William N. Elwood | Go to book overview

10
The Rhetoric of Indoctrination A Critical Analysis of New Employee Orientation

Mitchell S. McKinney1

Examination of the extant rhetorical analysis of corporate discourse reveals that most such analysis focuses primarily on the organization's external public relations messages. Cheney and Vibbert ( 1987) refer to such rhetoric as "corporate public persuasion" and describe corporate rhetoricians as "the makers and shapers of such campaigns that 'make' and 'remake' the organization for their various publics" (p. 179). Recently, however, scholars have noted the "blurring of organizational boundaries," as increasing attention has been given to corporate discourse that is strategically crafted for both internal and external audiences. As Cheney and Dionisopoulos ( 1989), citing Paonessa ( 1983), observe, "Many of these messages flow together, in that, for example, employees who receive internal messages also go home to watch corporate messages to the external public on television (e.g., about safety); thus, the traditional distinction between corporate communications inside the organization and public relations outside the organization makes little sense" (p. 145).

In developing their internal public relations campaigns, organizations have utilized a variety of persuasive message channels designed to influence current as well as future employees. Traditional forms of internal corporate rhetoric include house organs, employee newsletters, and corporate reports. Within the past few years, however, organizations have developed the use of corporate video as a new communicative medium. Used to reach both internal and external

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