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This week on Inside PR, Dave and Terry discuss ideas about how to measure stakeholder relations campaigns and tactics. They also welcome comments from Michael Netzley, Bob Ledrew and Amy Cole.

Show Notes

00:35 Dave introduces the show and reminds listeners that he will be on the TV show Test the Nation: Trivia this Sunday, January 20.

03:58 Dave talks about what he wears when he blogs.

06:20 Terry announces that Thornley Fallis has signed up two new social media folks: Michael Seaton and Bob Ledrew.

08:13 Terry welcomes a commentary on the history of professional communication from Michael Netzley. He phoned in to share his first installment of what will become a ‘Communications Legacies’ series.

17:04 Dave and Terry welcome a ‘Rudolph’ comment from Bob Ledrew.

21:21 Amy Cole writes in with a comment about how to measure stakeholder-relations communication plans. Dave and Terry decide to use the idea as today’s main topic.

32:19 Inside PRoper English: Thanks to Sallie Goetsch for these words to avoid: ‘actionable’ and ‘learnings’.

33:47 Terry winds up the show with all pertinent details. Fans of Inside PR on Facebook click here to join.

Our theme music is Streetwalker by CJacks, and is from the Podsafe Music Network; Roger Dey is our announcer.

Comments

  1. Not to worry, Aristotle will get at least one comment. I was a classicist in a former life and can’t stand to let the inaccuracies in Michael Netzley’s contribution pass, even though his major point about Greek rhetoric stands.

    “Greece” was not a single nation in antiquity, but a collection of city-state with different forms of government. Netzley’s statements about participatory democracy apply to Athens, and in particular to Athens during a fairly short period of time, the fifth and fourth centuries BCE.

    It’s absolutely true that oratory and rhetorical skill were critical to Athens, particularly in politics. The way you got the Assembly to pass laws was to stand up in front of them and persuade them. In the fifth century, teachers called Sophists instructed those who could afford to pay them in the art of “making the worse argument appear to be the better,” in the words of Aristophanes’ parody of them.

    But while there were no lawyers as we know them, by the fourth century there were men who made their living writing speeches for the law courts. They’re known collectively as the Attic Orators (look that term up on Wikipedia for more details). No doubt there were a lot more of them than the ones whose work remains to us because it was good enough to be considered literature in its own right.

    The extent of literacy in Athens is an open question. One assumes that there would be no point to public inscriptions if fairly large numbers of the public couldn’t read them, but very often these were lists of names and years. Almost all of what we now think of as “Greek literature” was written for performance. While it’s obvious that authors later than Homer and Hesiod were literate, it’s hard to tell how many of the people who watched the plays of Sophocles or listened to the speeches of Demosthenes could read beyond what we might think of as a first or second-grade level.

    Remember that copying written documents required laborious effort by hand, generally on papyrus, which had to be imported from Egypt. Most instruction was carried out orally, and people were trained to watch and listen and to speak and sing and to memorize. It wasn’t until the fourth century that the works of the great fifth-century tragedians were written down in an “official” form and stored in something approximating a library.

    None of that takes away from the importance of being able to communicate, and in particular to communicate with “the public”, if you were an Athenian citizen.

  2. Hi Sallie,

    Thank you for the thoughtful note and taking the time to share these additions. Over the years I have certainly been amazed by the vigorous debates and passion that surrounds scholarly discussions of antiquity. And just like inside the academy walls, few topics stir the passions quite as much as Aristotle.

    For my purposes here, I most certainly made the decision to simplify the history a bit and not get caught up in too many of the details. Taking a complex topic and attempting a concise summary is never easy, and certainly the choices I made are open to discussion like everything we post on-line. My primary assumption was that I would not generally be writing (and speaking) to listeners who have a scholar’s interest in antiquity, and thus my choice to keep things short and sweet. For those choices I am fully responsible.

    Perhaps to briefly clarify what I have done, Aristotle did live and study in Athens during precisely the period of history you identified. He went on to create his own school, the Lyceum, during this period as well. As a scholar studying under Plato (talk about pressure!), he was in fact surrounded by the elite of Athens. Aristotle, as best as I can tell, was most likely in a position to take advantage of what other scholars have called the literate revolution (even if the specific medium was papyrus). In short, all signs are that Aristotle lived, taught, and conducted his scholarship in precisely the context that you have described. I agree completely that was appears to have been true about Aristotle’s elite context was probably not true of society generally, but I have to disagree a bit and say that the basic context for Aristotle’s work (the subject of my entry) has been described in a fair and reasonable manner.

    You also add an important point when you say that speech writers were available. I completely agree. Again, only I am responsible for the choices I make as I summarize what could be a painfully detailed and academic discussions not entirely suited to short blog entry and pod cast reports. I assume not many people have a long row of red and green books from the Loeb Library. The fact that there were speechwriters does not change the burden individual citizens faced when defending themselves in front of an extremely large jury–an act requiring tremendous confidence and communication skill regardless of who crafted the text.

    So I must conclude that you have certainly added points and details that I glossed over. Hopefully these additional details add to the conversations now taking place 2400 years later. But without the intent of inviting an academic debate about antiquity, I do respectfully believe that the greater context that I have described for Aristotle’s work (the specific subject of my posts) is on the one hand a short and sweet summary, and on the other hand a reasonable and fair account of Aristotle’s context.

    Some small part of me does hope that the historical summaries might excite a few folks and prompt them to learn more about this history (or histories, if you prefer). I find Greek and Roman rhetoric fascinating and certainly I will do my best to keep these summaries fair, relatively concise, and hopefully interesting.

    If readers want to know more, then at the end of each post I have provided a point of entry (Encyclopedia of Rhetoric by Thomas Sloane). This book will then point you to some of the best resources available regarding classical rhetoric (e.g., George Kennedy). And knowing that Sallie has expertise as well, hopefully anybody who has an interest can easily take that next step and enjoy being immersed in both history and our continuing debates about it.

  3. Terry Author

    Wow, clash of the titans on the IPR blog! Very interesting you two. Perhaps you should join forces and produce the Ancient Greek Podcast. I’d certainly listen. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. (Dave might say that sarcastically, but not I!) Love the history. Who said PR is a product of the 20th century?!

  4. Hi Terry,

    I am glad you find the topic interesting. The history and ideas found in both the Greek and Roman texts have fascinated people for centuries. The debates about what the authors intended, as well as how the texts should be undertood within a current-day setting, have carried on for over 2000 years.

    For me, I keep returning to the classics because the ideas are timeless. As a brief example, in the last 10-15 years we have had two new books reinterpreting Aristotle and offering a much more vibrant and inclusive view of his treatise On Rhetoric. These new views stand is starck contrast to traditionalists who in some cases might read Aristotle as giving great priority to logic (logos). Certainly my brief description of the available means of persuasion (ethos, pathos, and logos) could be described as lacking from both perspectives because I did not give priority to one proof over the others. The different perspectives are many and endless.

    So to bring this to a close for me, my continued interest in the classics stems from the fact that we today still struggle with these very same questions about how to communicate with various publics. Do politicians use too many fear or emotional appeals to sway an audience? Do we lose a client’s attention if we rely too much on a chronological series of arguments to support our pitch? How much information is too much or too little?

    Perhaps the ancient masters can help us struggle with these questions. The question of how to communicate and target audiences most certainly is a rich and much debated topic, and as you say not just a product of the 20th century.

    Speaking of…I have a client to pitch this morning and move in my direction, so I am out of here. I will send another short legacy in a week or two. Best wishes to everyone back in North America.

  5. Looking forward to hearing more of Michael Netzley’s new podcast, particularly since I’ve been kicking around the idea of a PR podcast with a history bent myself. There must be something in the air!

    + Big ideas, small budget : great concept, Donna. As a PR consultant, I regularly budget some pro bono time for non profits and grassroots organizations. Giving back in this way brings me a lot of personal satisfaction, not to mention some collateral ‘good corporate citizen’ visibility in business circles that are of interest to me. So I’m in complete agreement with the points raised in last week’s Inside PR episode.

    ***

    Congrats to Thornley Fallis for attracting such great talent. Looking forward to seeing the great campaigns that will (continue to) come out of your shop.

    ***

    Dave: I’ll wear a big colourful wig and bathrobe in your honour as I sit down to watch Sunday’s Test the Nation. So (please) feel free to use me as a proxy and show up in studio wearing pants!

  6. I am so glad you guys chose to hash this out in the comments and not via audio comment. They would have moved our podcast to the History category on iTunes.

  7. Michael: The Loeb is for wimps. Mostly I have Oxford Classical Texts, though as my specialty was drama, I don’t have the complete orators. Lots of Plato and Aristotle, even if I haven’t read any of it for some time. (It’s been a while since I left academentia.)

  8. Sallie’s audio comment about “actionable” and “learnings” was music to my ears! I started a new job at a large corporation last summer and have already started a list of business-speak nonsense. These two were definitely included. I’m also sick of the terms “thought leadership” and “leveraging.”

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