1st Edition

Public Relations and the Corporate Persona
The Rise of the Affinitive Organization

ISBN 9781138945012
Published July 19, 2017 by Routledge
190 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

USD $175.00

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Book Description

For much of the last century, large, predominantly US corporations used public relations to demonstrate that their missions resonated with dominant societal values. Through the construction and conveyance of the "corporate persona", they aimed to convince citizens that they share common aspirations - and moreover that their corporate "soul" works as a beneficent force in society.

Through examining key examples from the last 80 years, this book argues that PR, through the corporate persona, works to create a sense of shared reality between the corporation and the average citizen. This has been instrumental in conveying, across generations, that the corporation is an affinitive corporate persona - a fellow companion in the journey of life. The construct is obviously ripe for manipulation, and the role of PR in creating and promoting the corporate persona in order to align corporations and stakeholders is potentially problematic. From wage inequality to climate change, preserving the corporate status quo may be negative.

This original and thought-provoking book not only critically analyses how PR and its role in the corporate persona works to solidify power, but also how that power might be used to further goals shared by the corporation and the individual. Scholars and advanced students of public relations, organizational communications and communication studies will find this book a challenging and illuminating read.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of tables



1 A basis for a distinctive personality in the public relations realm: The corporate persona

2 The corporation as person: Four perspectives

3 The corporate persona and industry: the National Association of Manufacturers walks with you

4 PR News: Public relations describes the corporate persona

5 The railroad and you: The watchful Norfolk and Western helps chart the destination

6 The oil company and you: The corporate persona as encourager of self-governance

7 Reality television and you: The corporate persona observes and rewards on Undercover Boss

8 Beyond fracking: The corporate persona as a relatable, credible entity

9 Through the social media window: Tracking the affinity of the corporate persona

10 Where to with the corporate persona?


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Burton St. John III is Professor in the Department of Communication at Old Dominion University, USA.