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08 Crafting the Message_reflections

08 Crafting the Message_reflections

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Published by owenshill

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Published by: owenshill on Jan 31, 2012
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Response to Eckhouse Introduction and Chapter 1
David Owens-Hill
“The basic notion underlying classical rhetoric is that any act of verbal communicationbetween human beings comprises four components: (1) a speaker or writer, (2) listenersor readers, (3) a message or text, and (4) a reality or universe that the message or text istalking about. All four of those components play a part in business or professional communications; but of those four, the one that gets primary consideration is audience– that is, the listeners or readers”-Edward P. J. Corbett 
When writing a reflection for class based on reading, I follow a pretty simpleformat for choosing on which (of the undoubtedly many) topics in the reading I willrespond. I use a pen to mark the things in the book that I find relevant and useful, and theitems that are fervently circled, underlined, or starred get more attention in the reflectionthan the items that are not. It’s basic prioritization; nothing fancy. In the introduction of the Eckhouse text, I circled–twice–the passage above in which Eckhouse cited Corbett’smodel of basic classical rhetoric. For a great long time I have known the gist of rhetoric,but it was not until I read the above passage that I understood the basic formula fordetermining the rhetorical validity of a communicative act. I may put this passage on myfridge, where I sometimes stick index cards with passages that I come across that makeme feel like I can relive an “aha!” moment.
Chapter one had fewer violent circles and underlines, but no fewer “aha!”moments. It’s a little known fact that, before going to art school and embarking on acareer focusing on brand-management, I briefly went to architecture school to try myhand at that profession. It was a difficult program, and I was successful, but I didn’t buythe “hype” that the profession professed. I understand, after reading the case studypresented in Chapter one, that I was rebelling against the non-rhetorical nature of theprofession and slipped naturally into a profession that is based entirely in rhetoric.I was happy to learn from the case study, which Eckhouse correctly identified asapplicable to any industry or profession, that my role as a brand-manager is rhetorical andthat the strategies I implement, many of which I was never formally taught, were centeredon emphasizing the “client” in communication and maintaining the relationship betweencommunicator and audience. For example, in a previous role at a nonprofit organization,part of my responsibilities included internal communication strategy for a looselyaffiliated audience closely comparable to a transient staff. Because this audience wasonly loosely tied to our organization, I worked to refine our strategy–and our expectedoutcomes–as related to this group. Instead of expecting immediate buy in, I worked withthis group to ensure a comprehensive understanding of our institutional philosophy andbuy-in on our messaging. If I sensed resistance, I worked with the audience to explain ourposition, or looked for ways to reflexively change the message, either in substance or inmechanism, to accommodate the needs of the audience.Point (4) in Corbett’s quotes that “a reality or universe that a message is talkingabout” is necessary in classic rhetorical study. I want this to be my take-away from thisreading. In order to achieve classical rhetorical study, I believe that you have to
acknowledge the moment-in-time nature of complete communicative acts. Maybe thatwill join the quote in its entirety on the index card on my fridge.

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