Successful Silences: A Practitioner’s Toolkit
Keywords:measuring silence, off-the-record communication, choreography of public attention, engagement as means, strategic silence
AbstractIn this paper I present ten patterns of successful silence which professional communicators use in their daily work. A silence succeeds if, first, it is mutually recognised as communication and, second, it conveys meaning, which the listener principally interprets the way the speaker has implied. The focus here is on communicative silence, although non-communicative silence is also a common and legitimate technique. I remain as close as possible to the language of the practitioner, which is both functional and rich in proto-theories that wait to be developed. Patterns are tools, not rules. Rules are abstract and universal. Tools are concrete and situational. Patterns depend on the context and objectives of a campaign —they do not work in every situation. One needs to know how to select and apply them. Coded in shortcut titles, some patterns are: know when to shut up; engagement is a means, not an end; no negative publicity first; everything you say is on the record; people follow leaders, not communication; and how to measure silence. This paper “breaks the silence” on behalf of communicators and for the sake of learners. Keywords: strategic silence, engagement as means, choreography of public attention, off-the-record communication, measuring silence.
Ahluwalia, Rohini; Burnkrant, Robert E., and Unnava, Rao H. (2000). “Consumer Response To Negative Publicity: The Moderating Role of Commitment”. Journal of Marketing Research, 37(2), pp. 203-214.
Austin, William J. (1975). How To Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Oxford: Oxford Scholarship Online.
Back, Les (2007). The Art of Listening. Oxford: Berg.
Bateson, Gregory (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.
Berger, Jonah; Sorensen, Alan T., and Rasmussen, Scott J. (2010). “Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales”. Marketing Science, 29(5), pp. 815-827.
Byers, Dylan (2013). “President Obama, off the Record”. Politico. Available at: <http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/president-obamaoff-the-record-99180_Page2.html>. Accessed 1 July 2019.
Clair, Robin P. (1993). Organizing Silence: A World of Possibilities. New York: State Universityof New York Press.
Clegg, Stewart; Courpasson, David, and Phillips,Nelson (2006). Power and Organizations. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Coombs, Timothy W. (2014). Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding. New York: Sage Publications.
Cutlip, Scott (1994). The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Davenport, Thomas H. and Beck, John C. (2001). The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press.
Davis, Aeron (2002). Public Relations Democracy. Public Relations, Politics and the Mass Media in Britain. Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press.
Dietrich, Gini (2018). “PR Is Not JustMedia Relations”. SpinSucks. Available at:<https://spinsucks.com/communication/pris-not-just-media-relations/>. Accessed 15 April 2020.
Dijk, Teun A. van (1997). “Introduction: The Study of Discourse”. In: Dijk, T. A. van (ed.). Discourse As Structure and Process. London: Sage, pp. 1-34.
Dimitrov, Roumen (2008). “Acting Strategically: Skilled Communication by Australian Refugee Advocacy Groups”. Global Media Journal, Australian Edition, 2(2), Available at: <http://stc.uws.edu.au/gmjau/iss2_2008/ Roumen_Dimitrov%20v2_2%202008.html>. Accessed 22 May 2020.
—. (2015). “Silence and Invisibility in Public Relations”. Public Relations Review, 41, pp. 636-651.
—. (2018). Strategic Silence: Public Relations and Indirect Communication. London; New York: Routledge.
—. (2019). “Explicit and Implicit Strategies of Silence”. Journal of Advertising and Public Relations, 2(1), pp. 19-31.
Ephratt, Michal (2008). “The Functions of Silence”. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(11), pp. 1909-1938.
Fairclough, Norman (1992). Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
—. (2001). “Critical Discourse Analysis As a Method in Social Scientific Research”. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis, 5, pp. 121-138.
—. (2003). Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London; New York: Routledge.
Franck, Georg (2005). “Mental Capitalism”. What People Want, pp. 99-114.
Gee, James Paul (2011). How To Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. New York: Routledge.
Glenn, Cheryl (2004). Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence. Carbondale: South Illinois University Press.
Glenn, Cheryl and Ratcliffe, Krista (eds.) (2011). Silence and Listening As Rhetorical Acts. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University.
Green, Adam (2013). “A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins”. The New Yorker. Available at: <http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/01/07/130107fa_fact_green?printable=true>. Accessed 9 September 2019.
Greenberg, Jerald and Edwards, Marissa S. (eds.) (2009). Voice and Silence in Organizations. Bingley: Emerald.
Grice, Herbert P. (1975). “Logic and Conversation”. In: Cole, P. and Morgan, J. L. (eds.). Syntax and Semantics, pp. 41-58. New York: Academic Press.
Halliday, Michael A. K. (1973). Explorations in the Functions of Language. London: Edward Arnold.
Hardy, Cynthia; Palmer, Ian, and Phillips, Nelson (2000). “Discourse As a Strategic Resource”. Human Relations, 53(9), pp. 1227-1248.
Hockenson, Lauren (2013). “Engagement: The Big Word that Means Very Little”. Mashable. Available at: <https://mashable.com/2013/05/01/engagement-buzzword/?europe=true>. Accessed 8 October 2019.
Hodge, Bob and Kress, Günther (1988). Social Semiotics. Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Hoffman, Jascha (2008). “Art Teams with Science to Explain It All to You”. The New York Times. Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/arts/design/01acad.html?pagewanted=all>. Accessed 3 April 2020.
Jalbert, Paul L. (1994). “Structures of the ’Unsaid’”. Theory, Culture & Society, 11, pp. 127-160.
Jaworski, Adam (1997). Silence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Vol. 10. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Johannesen, Richard L. (1974). “The Functions of Silence: A Plea for Communication Research”. Western Journal of Communication (includes Communication Reports), 38(1), pp. 25-35.
Kallio, Kirsi P. (2012). “Political Presence and the Politics of Noise”. Space and Polity, 16(3), pp. 287-302.
Kanter, Beth (2010). “Actionable Listening: Learning from Watching Other Nonprofits”. Beth’s Blog. Available at: . Accessed 22 June 2020.
Karlberg, Michael (1996). “Remembering the Public in Public Relations Research: From Theoretical to Operational Symmetry”. Journal of Public Relations Research, 8, pp. 263-278.
Kellner, Douglas (2003). Media Spectacle. London: Routledge.
Kenny, Colum (2011). The Power of Silence Silent Communication in Daily Life. London: Karnac.
Kress, Günther (1993). “Against Arbitrariness: The Social Production of the Sign As a Foundational Issue in Critical Discourse
Analysis”. Discourse & Society, 4(2), pp. 169-191.
Kress, Günther and Leeuwen, Teo van (2001). Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Edward Arnold.
Kruse, Michael (2016). “Trump and the Dark Art of Bad Publicity”. Politico Magazine. Available at: <http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/donald-trump-2016-convention-melania-trump-speech-dark-artof-pr-214083>. Accessed 30 March 2020.
Leeuwen, Teo van (2005). Introducing Social Semiotics. London; New York: Routledge.
Leeuwen, Teo van and Kress, Günther (2011). “Discourse Semiotics”. In: Dijk, A. T. van (ed.). Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, pp. 131-191.
Leitch, Shirley and Motion, Judy (2010). “Publics and Public Relations: Effecting Change”. In: Heath, R. (ed.). The SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 99-110.
Leitch, Shirley and Neilson, David (2001). “Bringing Publics into Public Relations: New Theoretical Frameworks for Practice”. In: Heath, R. (ed.). Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 127-138.
Lentz, Richard (1991). “The Search for Strategic Silence: Discovering What Journalism Leaves Out”. American Journalism, 8(1), pp. 10-26.
López, Germán (2018). “Watch: Emma Gonzalez’s Incredible Moment of Silence at March for Our Lives”. Vox. Available at: <https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/24/17159916/march-for-our-livesemma-gonzalez-silence>. Accessed 3 June 2020.
Macnamara, Jim (2016). Organizational Listening. The Missing Essential in Public Communication. New York; Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag.
Mickey, Thomas J. (2003). Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Monga, Alokparna B. and John, Deborah R. (2008). “When Does Negative Brand Publicity Hurt? The Moderating Influence of Analytic Versus Holistic Thinking”. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 18(4), pp. 320-332.
Pieczka, Magda (2019). “Looking Back and Going Forward: The Concept of the Public in Public Relations Theory”. Public Relations Inquiry, 8(3), pp. 225-244.
Schiffrin, Deborah (1994). Approaches to Discourses. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, USA: Blackwell.
Scollon, Ronald, and Scollon, Suzanne B. (1986). Responsive Communication: Patterns for Making Sense: Black Current Press.
Searle, John R. (1989). “How Performatives Work”. Linguistics and Philosophy, 12(5), pp. 535-558.
Shister, Gail (2013). “As Journalists Become the Story, Will the Rules Change?” TVNewser. Available at: <http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/when-journalists-become-the-story-do-the-rules-change/182930>. Accessed 15 June 2020.
Summers, Jane and Morgan, Melissa J. (2008). “More Than Just the Media: Considering the Role of Public Relations in the
Creation of Sporting Celebrity and the Management of Fan Expectations”. Public RelationsReview, 34(2), pp. 176-182.
Tanaka, Keiko (1994) Advertising Language: A Pragmatic Approach to Advertisement in Britain and Japan. London; New York: Routledge.
Tannen, Deborah and Saville-Troike, Muriel (eds.) (1985). Perspectives on Silence. Norwood, NJ: Alex Publishing Corporation.
Wodak, Ruth (1996). Disorders of Discourse. London; New York: Longman.
—. (2009). The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics As Usual. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Copyright (c) 2020 Tripodos
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Once an article has been approved for publication in Tripodos, the exclusive right to publish the work becomes the property of Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations of Ramon Llull University. These rights can be granted to a third party with the agreement of the author(s).
Until the articles have been approved for publication, Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations of Ramon Llull University has no rights over them.
The submission of articles is understood to represent explicit consent to these conditions of publication.