“We are prepared to play our part…”: A case study of the use of first-person references in e-releases from two oil companies
Abstract This study looks into the meta-pragmatics of e-releases by providing corpus-based data on variations in the use of first-person references in e-releases from two oil companies: BP and Repsol. Previous research on corporate press releases had approached this particular feature (Jacobs, 1999a, 1999b), but no further attempts have been made to look into their usage in press releases published on corporate websites of different organizations. Two corpora of nearly 100,000 tokens have been examined for first-person pronouns and determiners in order to identify their frequencies and their referents. The results reveal an interplay of multiple first-person voices that enhance the dialogic nature of e-releases and possibly their persuasive effectiveness. The variations detected show that BP uses first-person references far more frequently than Repsol, yet lower frequencies seem not to correlate with higher frequencies of third-person references. The range of referents identified is also broader for BP. The differences suggest distinct approaches to exploiting the communicative potential served by the use of first-person references, and thus different communication strategies applied by companies operating on a global scale but within the same industry.