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Public Relations Strategy, Theory, and Cases

Praxis at Its Best

Tricia Hansen-Horn and Adam E. Horn

Presenting a robust introduction to public relations strategy, this book helps readers explore their perceptions of what strategy is or might be; highlights influencers of strategic decision making such as distinctions among B2B, B2C, and B2G as well as public relations roles and organization types; discusses the education and training value and limitations of the popular case study; and provides a easy-to-understand overview of four theories important for every "student" (academic and non-academic) of public relations to understand. Excellence theory, contingency theory, rhetorical theory, and social capital theory are introduced. In the spirit of praxis (the application of theory to practice), the authors provide theory-specific and other relevant "keys" for use as the reader seeks to apply what is read to actual public relations cases. As might be expected, highly structured case studies that clearly distinguish between objectives, strategies and tactics are included for the purposes of education and training. The featured set of case studies includes: March of Dimes Rebrand; Inside Pediatrics Children’s Mercy Kansas City; Vanity Fair Women Who Do LiftTOUR; TouchNet + Heartland; WeatherTech Public Relations Super Bowl Ad Buy; ZF Race Reporter/Fan Reporter: Europe, Japan and the US; Pinnacle Not So Silent Night; Lee Jeans—Influencer Relations; Fight CRC One Million Strong Collection; Tips for Kids—Seventeen Years Later; and Dairy Queen’s Fan Food Not Fast Food Campaign: Retrospective Cases Analysis from the Outside.

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Chapter Six: Value in Applied Theory: Rhetorical Theory


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Value in Applied Theory

Rhetorical Theory

Don’t forget from reading chapter four that a professional finds terrific value from reading and applying theory, if he just knows how to do it. Remember, too, that the discussions of excellence theory and contingency theory found in chapters four and five were the first steps in your ability to engage in praxis (the application of theory to your professional aspirations). Chapter six picks up where chapter four left off, and addresses rhetorical theory as a different perspective from which to approach public relations and case studies. From a rhetorical theory perspective, public relations serves as an organizational rhetor with a vested interest in meaning and message creation. It does this thorough a robust and interactive process of language and symbol use and misuse involving other relevant rhetors that may or may not have the same meaning and message goals. Seven rhetorical situations are explored, as are eight rhetorical factors important to understanding them. Finally, five rhetorical responses are discussed that may be adopted in the face of relevant rhetorical situations.

Rhetorical Theory

Instead of searching for one best way to accomplish organizational goals, or to understand how a public relations professional assumes stances to perceived conflict ← 72 | 73 → and threats, rhetorical theorists focus on the processes by which meaning is created and accepted by organizations. They argue that public relations professionals are influential rhetors1 in the...

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