Rhetorical theory is one of the communications techniques used in public relations by persuading the public to a particular point of view. Heath defines rhetoric as the art of persuasion. Likewise Elwood defines rhetoric as “the communicative means that citizens use to lend significance to themselves and to extend that significance to others,” claiming that public relations itself is a rhetorical practice. Sproul (1988) has his own explanation and description of the “new managerial rhetoric.” Sproul explains that historically, rhetoric has been a tool focused on more greatly, but not exclusively on reaching the mass audience through media as opposed to being aimed at a single individual.
Edward Bernays, whom many regard today as the father of public relations (Tench & Yeomans, p270) regarded public relations as an attempt to persuade a public to come to terms with a certain idea, by using a series of communication techniques and rhetorical messages.
Edward also explains, that rhetorical persuasion within public relations includes non- verbal and visual cues used by organizations and therefore tend to include symbols. This would allow for an organization to shape its identity. For example iconic corporate identities as created by Apple, The icon of an apple with a bite mark. An icon that is globally recognized and is immediately emblematic of the corporate personality and qualities imbibed by the organizations public relations practice.
Though rhetoric primarily
References: Heath, R. (1993). A rhetorical approach to zones of meaning and organizational prerogatives. Public relations review, 19(2), 107-211. Heath, R (2010). The Sage handbook of public relations. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Joseph H. Boyett, Ph.D. (2008). Won’t Get Fooled Again: A Voter’s Guide to Seeing Through the Lies, Getting Past the Propaganda, and Choosing the Best Leaders. When Does Rhetoric Become Propaganda?. AMACOM Parsons, P (2007) Ethics in Public Relations, London Kogan Page Limited Sproul, J.M. (1988) The new managerial rhetoric and the old criticism. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 74, 468 – 486. Susan Kinnear. What is the role of rhetoric in public relations practice and how does it relate to the management of an organisation’s reputation?. http://mmu.academia.edu/SusanKinnear/Papers/432446/What_is_the_role_of_rhetoric_in_public_relations_practice_and_how_does_it_relate_to_the_management_of_an_organisations_reputation Tench, R. and Yeomans, L (2006), Exploring Public Relations, Harlow: Prentice Hall