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A Rhetorical Typology for Studying the Audience Role in Public Relations Communication: The Avon 3-Day Disruption as Exemplar

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This study develops public relations theory using Aristotelian theory as a foundation and contemporary rhetorical and public relations scholarship to build a framework from which to extend the rhetorical public relations paradigm. This approach adds depth to rhetorically framed public relations theory and offers practical application for public relations scholarship. The article provides an example of how public relations researchers can apply the proposed rhetorical typology to better include the public, thus more fully understanding the audience role in communication relationships. A qualitative analysis of the online dialogue among Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk participants during a time of uncertainty serves as an exemplar for the proposed use of rhetorical theory in public relations research. The key difference in the approach proposed here is the emphasis on the public as partners in the public relations dialogue who help shape rhetorical discourse. In contrast to the organization-centered approach, the public-centered tactic exposes the links as well as the disconnects between organization and public values, underscoring the importance for practitioners to provide meaningful contributions to the public–organization dialogue, creating, negotiating, and codefining meaning with publics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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