Bitzer Rhetorical Theory

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The case study is an analysis of the strategic messages created and delivered by the organization you have chosen to study.  These strategic messages are directed at specific and significant stakeholder groups which have the potential to affect and/or influence the organization you’re studying.  Your task in the case study is to accomplish three major goals: Three messages that I will use 1.Bitzer Rhetorical theory 2. Immanuel Kant Ethical Theory 3.  Aristotle Model of communications 1.  Determine which, of the various communication theories and concepts you’ve learned as a student in the Strategic Communication program, will best explain and explore the organization’s strategic messages.  You don’t have to have 10 or 12 theories but you must have more than 1 or 2.  The Bitzer model of exigence-audience-constraints is a great theory for analyzing whether an organization understands the communication context (what Bitzer called “the rhetorical situation”).  There are a number of other theories in our class and you’ve had a chance to discuss numerous ones in your other COM classes.     2.  Apply these theories/concepts to specific strategic messages by the organization.  These messages could be speeches by the CEO, corporate websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook postings, brochures, special events, rallies, etc., etc.  “Message” does not mean simply “speeches”.  “Messages” are any and all communication activities, including unintentional ones.  “Messages” include both verbal *and* non-verbal (i.e., visual) efforts.   As you apply the theory to the message, you’re examining how well the theory explains what seems to be happening with the messages.  Theories become theories because they are viewed as reliable predictors of behavior.  In a very real sense, you are “testing” the theories by applying them to real messages.  What happens if the message appears successful BUT violates what the theory tells us should happen?  In that case, you’ve contributed to a refining of the theory!  If the theory and the message match up, you’ve reinforced our understanding of the theory.   3.  Evaluate the success (or lack of success) of the organization’s strategic communication efforts.  Was the organization successful?  Why or why not?  What does an analysis of the strategic messages, using both theories and the messages themselves, tell us about how the organization understands its stakeholders, its issues and the context in which it operates? These three activities (Theory – Application – Evaluation) are the three major activities that have to happen in your paper.   The work on the case study is divided into three major sections, all of which are graded (and which account for 75% of your final grade): 1.  A detailed working outline 2.  A rough draft of about 3-5 pages 3.  The final paper (which is described in detail below). Information on each of these three is available at the Weekly Module in the week in which they are due and I will be providing additional information about these assignments as they are due. Specifically, final paper information is contained in the Weekly Assignment section for the final week of the term but I’ve listed the general requirements here: Must be a MINIMUM of 30 pages, double spaced with reasonable margins and font size Should have a title page and abstract/executive summary and references/bibliography page(s) Images (such as photos and graphs, etc.) are okay for use within the paper but if there are a lot of these, then the page length should expand.  Use either MLA or APA for your citations The final paper does not have be turned in via Turnitin.com.  Use the link at Week Nine for submission. I’ll be using a general rubric for grading the papers as follows: 20% = use of, and understanding of, conceptual materials, communication theories and ideas 20% = inclusion of examples of communication 20% = analysis of the communication examples 20% = quality of writing (clear, concise, appropriate for a research paper, free from errors, etc.) 20% = general overall impressions of the paper including inclusion of all required elements (30 pages, citations, turned in on time, etc.) A well organized and clearly divided paper with the three majors sections of Introduction, Body and Conclusion 2.  Within the Body of your paper , you should have three major areas:  a) the specific communication theories/ideas/concepts you will want to use to guide your analysis; b) the specific kinds of strategic messages you will be analyzing; and c) your evaluation of these messages, based on your use of the communication theories/concepts.  Clearly, you are working through communication theory/concept materials from your earlier classes in the program. You need to be looking at these various ideas, thinking about your case study organization, reading and considering the strategic messages you are already finding and coming to some well-founded preliminary decisions about what theoretical/conceptual materials you will use.  You were asked to read Bitzer’s essay already and will read additional essays this coming week.  Also, the FDR inaugural contains examples of very specific language use and you may wish to explore how metaphors shape strategic messages.  For the strategic messages, you will need to be building, very quickly, the sources of these messages for your organization.  These messages can take a lot of different forms:  web pages, social media, speeches, press releases, special events, annual reports, etc.   Your introduction should include: 1.  An opening that captures the attention of your reader.  It should be directly linked to the organization you are studying.  It’s an invitation to the reader to “read further” in your paper. 2.  A clear, concise thesis statement.  You must be able to express the purpose of your paper in a single sentence and it must make sense.  Otherwise, your reader is going to drift, unsure of what exactly you’re doing.  Remember:  you are examining strategic messages in order to offer an evaluation of an organization’s communication efforts.  This should be a part of your thesis statement. 3.  Some short material to support why this particular organization and this particular case study is important.  These sentences establish the significance of your paper and create a credibility for your readers. 4.  A brief listing or overview of the main points around which the paper will be built.  You don’t more than 3-5 of these.  In fact, “3-5” is the number you would use for almost any sized speech or paper.  In the longer papers (and speeches), you simply have more development, more examples, more supporting materials.  This overview (often called “previewing”) is a way to set up the roadmap for your readers.  When you get to the body of the paper, follow your outline of main points (don’t preview one list and develop another one in the body!).  Your readers will know what you’re going to explore and will be more comfortable following along. 5.  Transition out of the Introduction and into the Body of the paper with some signaling statement or device.  Sometimes, it’s easier to use internal headings to mark subsections of the paper.  That’s fine.  But you’ll still need a transition sentence (or two) to get you from the preview portion of the Introduction into the Body section of the paper. All of these elements (your entire Introduction) should be no more than about a page and a half.  If you have an Intro that 3 or 4 or more pages, you’ve probably sucked some of the Body into the Intro.  Go back and take a look.  The Intro should set up the main work of the paper, which is the Body. Remember to have a clearly written Thesis statement which appears early in your Introduction.  Even well-regarded scholarly essays have thesis statements.  Tell your reader what you intend to do:  “The purpose of this paper is to………..”.   This will help your reader know WHAT you intend to discuss.2.  Similarly, remember to have a clear preview statement of your 2-4 main points.  This preview statement should follow right after the Thesis statement.   The preview statement is one sentence with a short listing of those main points.  The preview statement is the HOW of what you intend to discuss.  Along with the thesis statement, a good preview sentence is an important navigational tool for your readers.3.  Make sure your final paper conforms to all the MLA or APA style guidelines for such things as end notes, foot notes, margins, etc.  This includes putting page numbers into your final paper. 4 Remember that your final paper is twenty (20) pages of content.  These twenty pages do NOT include your title page, your executive summary page, your bibliography page, any end notes or any appendices for supplemental materials. 5.  The Executive Summary is like an abstract in a scholarly journal.  It’s one or two paragraphs that lays out the entirety of your paper in a very condensed form.  It’s not your Introduction and it should flow into your Intro.  The Intro should be the start of your paper and have all of the elements which are required for an Intro (like thesis and preview statements)6.  You MUST incorporate a meaningful use of communication theories and concepts in your analysis of the communication activities of your selected organization.  Mentioning a theory as a kind of “fly by” (“Bitzer noted that situations are important and Company XYZ was in a situation…..”) won’t work.  Unpack the theories (Bitzer has three major elements plus a whole section on the idea of “a
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