In my post from last week, I referenced my customer service experience and although I am aiming to generally direct this blog toward those with an interest in early literacy efforts (a.k.a. my “customer”), this week, since I am exploring the connection between an expertise to a particular genre, I am going to focus on the communication I used with my typical client at Madden Media. Madden Media is an innovative travel marketing company and as a former Client Service Coordinator, my job was to contact clients via email to request specific materials from them that our designers would need in order to create their ad, whether it be for print in a magazine or for an online banner ad.
It would seem when I write the word genre I mean children’s literature, but in this case, I am moving beyond that to the genre (or “construct” or “framework”) I used to communicate on behalf of Madden Media, which was daily email correspondence with advertisers, one of my discourse communities.
Gunther Kress writes in his chapter two of his book Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World that he treats “genre as that category which realizes the social relations of the participants involved in the text as interaction” (p. 41). Email was my genre since it was the best way to send a bulk of information to a given advertiser to read at his most opportune time. Within the email I would include specifications including what format the ad would run in (print or digital); the ad size and specifications of what to submit to me (word count, number and size of images, contact information, or a finished ready-to-print ad file); the due date for ad materials; how to submit materials to me (via email or mail or FTP site); how to contact me with any questions; and usually there was a link to view a visual of their past ad if applicable, or an example of the publication they will run in, and perhaps even a link to a visual of ad specifications for extra reference. The latter would be what Kress calls “mixed genres” (Kress, p. 52) because it includes both text and pictures. Kress used writing “for the representation of event structures, and images [are] used for the representations of displays of aspects of the world” (p. 49). This practice tends to multiple learning styles, which is anticipating potential customer needs.
By choosing an email format to send the specifications, email was my chosen genre. Amy Devitt writes in her article, “If a writer has chosen to write in a particular genre, then the writer has chosen a template, a situation and an appropriate reflection of that situation in sets of forms” (Devitt, p. 582). Before I send specs (specifications) to my clients, I would have a clear understanding of my goal and the product of which I am referring.
It is important to be able to meld my customer service skills by writing effective emails (my genre) to my advertising client (a discourse community) in regards to their business of placing an ad (the subject matter) within a publication. I would send basically the same predictable specs to each advertiser, but adjust the personalized details for each email. Charles Bazerman wrote that “…Schutz recognized the need for orderliness for humans to operate” (Bazerman, p. 20). By using email signatures as a template, that created an orderliness that I could easily handle in order to complete my job most efficiently and give a consistent message to all advertisers equally.
As a writer, it’s crucial to know your audience (the discourse community) and of course what the topic is about and then wisely select the best mode to reach your audience to meet maximum potential. To relate back to early literacy, I could write a grant proposal (my genre) in a very specific format to an organization (my audience) that gives money to nonprofit organization in regards to funding for early childhood literacy efforts (my topic). By linking these three integral pieces, I can reach my ideal audience in the best way. Just like making an apple pie, I need the best ingredients and I will be successful.
Bazerman, C. (2002). The rhetoric and ideology of genre: Strategies for stability and change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc.
Devitt, A. (1993). Generalizing about genre: New conceptions of an old concept. College composition and communication, 44( 4), 573–586.
Kress, G. (2004). Visual rhetoric in a digital world: A critical sourcebook. Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University.