Re: Marketing Writing Articles

Subject: Re: Marketing Writing Articles
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 12:04:01 -0600

Amy wrote:
I don't suppose someone out there can tell me exactly what it is
that people seem to have againt marketing.

This is something of a history lesson, but I think it's relevant to
the ethical issues we face in all writng.

The bias against marketing goes back to Socrates/Plato. Maybe
longer, since I've heard it said that rhetoric is the second oldest
profession. Socrates maintained that communication should be a
dialog and exposition of ideas to determine the truth. He condemned
rhetoricians, because they tried to persuade people to a viewpoint.
In other words, they marketed ideas. And, heaven forbid, wanted to
be paid for their rhetoric/teaching of rhetoric.

Personally, I think Plato's dialogues against rhetoric have more to
do with jealousy than fact. Why, because the dialogues are blatantly
persuasive mechanisms. They purport to stand on a higher moral
ground while at the same time using persuasive techniques. In my
opinion, there's no such thing as pure expository. All communication
is persuasive. The techniques of persuasion are amoral, their USE is
moral or immoral. As in many cases, an object can be a tool or a

(Simplistic explanation) Persuasive communication is used to
manipulate people. If it is used for public good, (fighting crime or
eradicating disease), it's considered acceptable. If it's used for
monetary gain, it's considered bad. I think the association with
money has caused people to embrace Plato's position for centuries.

So, if people hold an essentially Socratic or Platonic viewpoint,
they tend to characterize marketing as evil. If they are pragmatic
neo-Aristoteleans, like me, they evaluate individual cases of
marketing or persuasion and decide if it is a position or product
that they support. Of course, there's always the third category of
people, who care about neither the morality of the technique nor the
morality of the position/product that they support. That's where
Marketing tends to get into deception and creates its own current-
day negative image. I think it's entirely possible to do Marketing
and be ethical. It can be challenging, but ultimately, it's in a
company's best interest to behave ethically, if they want to be in
business a long time. (Go ahead, tell me I'm naive. It's still what
I believe.)

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

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