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Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Communication Theory


The Internet constitutes one of the most important innovations in communication technology. Unlike traditional media such as print, audio, and audio-visual platforms, the Internet fosters two-way communication. Search engines permit people to acquire information at a swift pace by eliminating the necessity of perusing through pages, as in the case of books. This advantage has seen the Internet develop to become an important medium for the distribution of printed academic material such as e-books and e-magazines, among others. The rapid deployment of the Internet as the most preferred media for communication due to its advantages associated with speed and fostering two-way communication is akin to the development of the World Wide Web. At the infancy stages of the World Wide Web, Yahoo! search engine had already been developed.

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Yahoo! Search engine was developed in 1995, and it grew rapidly to become the most visited search engine across the globe by 1998. In fact, Yahoo Stocks share prices had risen to US$ 125 in its exponential growth phase. However, due to reasons such as overspending and managerial mistakes, the stock prices dropped sharply to US$4 per share. This aspect served as a clear indication that Yahoo! had lost its glory, but in 2014, the shares reached the heights of US$ 38 per share. This growth may be attributed to the shaking of the corporate organizational structure. After realizing its mistakes, Yahoo! turned to Google Company for help, through the appointment of Google’s Executive personnel, Marissa Mayer, in 2012 as the new Yahoo president and CEO. Marissa reported working with a clear goal of helping Yahoo! to restore its foundational years’ success glory. The main interrogative facing Merissa is whether this goal is achievable.

Yahoo! still contends with the question of whether one key hire can ultimately change the fate and direction of an entire company. In the attempt to partly respond to this query, this paper defines the communicative theories and methods that Marissa Mayer uses to get Yahoo! moving in the right direction in the quest to rebuild faith and trust in the company before the eyes of users and stakeholders. Theories utilized here include Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons” of influence known as likability, Quintilian’s theory of the good person speaking well, and the archetypal image of identity, more specifically the identity group, which is defined as the technical adviser. Other important communication theories applied in this case study are uncertainty reduction theory, Aristotelian rhetorical theory, and corporate social responsibility.

The evolution of the Internet as a communication technology

The development of the Internet and especially the World Wide Web is quite possibly one of the greatest “single” innovations of the modern era. Since its humble beginnings in the late 1960s, the Internet has completely revolutionized every activity in day-to-day life. It has rearranged the way people communicate and the speed at which they communicate. All previous forms of communication were, in one way or another, anchored or grounded. The mediums of radio and television were simply forms of one-way communication. Newspapers and magazines took writers and reporters out to locations to gather all the necessary information by hand and physically bring it back to “headquarters” to prepare, assemble, and make it ready for distribution. The telephone brought a quicker and easier way to relay information, but it too had its own set of limitations as the design was more geared towards one on one interaction.

An American author, teacher, consultant, and all-around Internet guru, Clay Shirky, once remarked that the Internet communication revolution was unique. It completely absorbed all other the previous revolutions. Anything done in any of the earlier movements could either be directly done or duplicated on the Internet. For instance, letters sent as emails, newspapers, and magazine content could be read directly from a website or even downloaded for reading after some time or even after a long time. Phone calls could be made and listened. You can listen to just about any radio station in the world with the click of your mouse. Later, with the further development of two-way communication opportunities like blogs, message boards, and later social media, active, real-time exchanges were actually possible at a much faster rate. With the proper device and a data stream, thousands of people in a matter of seconds can see most of the information. Feelings about this information can be reciprocated just as quickly.

One of the first great innovations of the Internet was the search engine. In the beginning, these websites’ sole purpose was to help “users” find whatever they wanted at a high rate of speed simply by typing in a few keywords. The days of hours and hours flipping through books and magazines were over. Gone were the days of wasting so much valuable time and energy making phone call after phone call. While the World Wide Web was still a baby, one of the biggest and brightest search engines to erupt into the scene was that of Yahoo! Founded in 1995. By 1998, Yahoo! was the most visited web search engine on the planet. At one point, a single share of Yahoo! stock could have cost you as much as 125 dollars. Shortly after this high point, due to a laundry list of management mistakes and a lot of overspending, stock prices dropped to as little as 4 dollars a share.

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Amid the challenges faced by Yahoo!, its fortunes are becoming brighter as time progresses. The Yahoo! Company is recovering from the immense losses experienced in the past. Indeed, today, as stated in the introduction section, Yahoo! stock can be bought for just over 38 dollars a share. This price is mostly due to a major shakeup in corporate structure, starting at the top. After a series of upper-level management misses, Yahoo! turned to a competitor to breathe fresh air and usher in a new direction and purpose for its future. On July 16, 2012, the company appointed Google executive Marissa Mayer as its new President and CEO. She went to work the next day, starting the journey that would perhaps return the one-time Internet juggernaut to its former days of glory. The Yahoo! Company believes that Marissa Mayer is the leadership personality it requires to turn around further its fortunes and increase its survival probabilities.

Although Yahoo! Company strongly believes in the abilities of Marissa Mayer, it still needs to face the puzzle of whether the outcomes it anticipates from her are realizable. In this context, the interrogative of whether one key hire can ultimately change the fate and direction of an entire company remains important for Yahoo! Company. However, only time will tell the overall story. What specific attributes does Marissa Mayer have that makes Yahoo! believe that she can indeed restore the glory of the company? The remainder of this paper discusses communicative theories and methods that Marissa Mayer uses to get Yahoo! moving in the right direction again and to rebuild the faith and trust in the company through the eyes of consumers, users, and stakeholders. However, before this, a discussion of a brief autobiography of Marissa Mayer is considered, coupled with how her skills are suited to communication roles at Yahoo! Company.

The entry of Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! Company

Born in Wausau, Wisconsin, on 30 May 1975, Marissa Mayer depicted high potential and interest in science and mathematics at a very young age. Her first job, in a supermarket, ushered her to designing solutions for enhancing speedy expedition of customers’ service. In her biography, she recalls that while working at the supermarket, she memorized the costs of different items in an effort to expedite consumers’ time during checkouts.

Later, Mayer would enroll in a University, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer science-related fields. In fact, she enrolled at “Stanford University where she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Symbolic Systems, and she then progressed to study a Masters Degree in Computer Science where she specialized in Artificial Intelligence” (Carlson, 2013, par. 4). Her graduate work on artificial intelligence played a part in the more than a dozen job offers she received upon completion of her education. Precisely, her internship at Union Bank in Switzerland and Stanford University set the way for her future career. During these internships, she acquired 14 job offers in different companies, with one of them being Google.

Mayer decided to accept a position with, at the time, a little known company with only 19 employees called Google. She became the company’s first female engineer, primarily doing web server and user interface work where she was ultimately responsible for the overall Google “experience” that the Internet behemoth is so well known for- products like Maps, Earth, Gmail, and special occasion company logos affectionately known as “doodles.” She joined the company as the 20th employee in 1999. Her main job at Google was leading products such as “Gmail, Google maps, and Google news development teams” (Carlson, 2013, par. 7).

After working for more than a decade at Google, Mayer’s success attracted the attention of many industry key players in both the Silicon Valley and other parts of the world. One of the organizations particularly moved by the work of Mayer at Google was Yahoo! Company. Being known for always looking out for the next big thing, it came in a big way in July of 2012. Mayer was appointed the new CEO and president of the slowly sinking Yahoo! Corporation. In the past five years, Mayer is the fifth CEO hired by Yahoo!, joining the ranks of only 20 women tasked with the job of top dog at a Fortune 500 company.

Mayer is currently serving at Yahoo in the capacity of the president and the CEO of the company on a five-year contract. Her main role at the company is driving its success so that it can restore its past glory. She is an excellent communicator who has the capability of getting things done through people. Aligning people to a common strategic focus requires an ardent organizational communicator. Mayer is one such organizational communicator deploying various theoretical approaches to communication in a bid to enhance her effectiveness as Yahoo!’s company vision career.

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Marissa Mayer’s organizational communication strategies

Communication strategies are crucial in organizations. Organizations are growing into immense complexities, and thus they are constantly looking for mechanisms of becoming competitive. One of the ways of gaining competitive advantage is by “discovering and implementing a communications strategy that supports company business objectives for its customers, workforce, and partners” (Perry & Bodkin, 2000, p.89). Good communication strategies have multiple benefits for an organization ranging from enhancing workforce motivations to the creation of additional customers and retention of the existing clientele. Mayer is one of the top CEOs who understand the value of effective communication in enhancing efforts to drive the success of an organization by ensuring that a highly talented workforce delivers optimal productivity.

Through her communication approaches, Mayer is aware that developing strategies that ensure Yahoo!’s success requires ardent communication at all hierarchical structures of the company. This realization is vital since the implementation of new business strategies often involves change. Poor communication often results in resistance to change, especially where the persons working in an organization consider the changes implemented as threats to their jobs and personal excellence. For instance, Mayer announced that all Yahoo home-based workers would be required to report physically at work. This move was an attempt to create a working environment by bringing all Yahoo’s most productive employees into one place to ensure optimal innovativeness and creativity. Nevertheless, this aspect involves a change in the organizational culture of the company, which some of the workers may resist.

Mayer is highly suited to altering the culture at Yahoo! She has the capability to communicate adequately at the intra-organizational levels. In spite of the significance of her inter-organizational communication, the literature on organization management recognizes the significance of organizational culture in determining the effectiveness of communication strategies adopted by communication personnel within an organization. For instance, Goldman, Santos, and Tully (2008) argue, “Cultural factors can hinder successful execution of business strategies” (p.139). At times, organizations utilize trial and error methods based on theoretical paradigms to approach the challenge of organizational culture without appreciating that operating “in different markets requires different approaches to succeed” (Goldman, Santos, & Tully, 2008, p.139). Yahoo! is one of the companies that seek to rejuvenate their business success by shaking their managerial structure in the attempt to correct past mistakes, which affected their performance negatively in the past. Mayer serves as the key icon for the enhancement of change at Yahoo. Given that communication constitutes a major element for driving organizational success, the next sections discuss possible theoretical approaches that Mayer may utilize or has deployed to ensure ardent communication in an effort to change the fortunes of the company.

Likability in Robert Cialdini’s theory

Mayer’s success in rebuilding Yahoo! depends on her ability to use her likability attribute to orient all the stakeholders of the company to her desired corporate direction. Likability constitutes one of the six aspects identified by Cialdini (2007) in his theoretical model for persuasion. Seiter and Gass (2010) posit, “Persuasion can attempt to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors” (p.33). In the context of an organization, persuasion aims at altering people’s behaviors and attitudes in the manner they approach a certain issue, idea, or even other people through communication.

Communication helps in conveying information, feelings, perceptions, and reasoning, or a combination of these aspects. Organizational leaders attempt to persuade employees and other stakeholders to follow their identified vision and mission by executing their mandates with precision (DellaVigna & Gentzko, 2010; Heath & Palencher, 2009). At Yahoo!, restoration of its competitive advantage strengths requires Mayer to persuade the design team to innovate and create competitive products. Mayer has already identified products such as Yahoo News and Yahoo Search as some of the products, which have constituted Yahoo! Strengths over a long period. However, persuasion is required to enhance the motivation of product creators and innovators to redesign the products and make them more competitive in comparison to similar products offered by competitors such as Google. Therefore, this aspect leaves no doubt that Mayer has to be a likable leader.

People like associating with successful people. This assertion suggests that the previous success of Mayer may act as an important tenet for enhancing the acceptability of her established corporate strategy for restoring the past glory of Yahoo! The perception that a successful person leads Yahoo’s employees may induce Mayer’s likability. Nevertheless, the question of whether Mayer possesses the qualities of a likable leader remains relevant.

Robert Cialdini’s theory argues that people say yes to persons that they like. According to the theorist, liking is a function of two main factors, which include physical attractiveness and similarity. Physically attractive people have better persuasion ability (DellaVigna & Gentzko, 2010). They have the ability to acquire what they need from others through alteration of attitudes. Seiter and Gass (2010) argue, “Attractiveness is proven to send favorable messages or impressions of other traits that a person may have such as talent, kindness, and intelligence” (p.39). However, as aforementioned, the pertinent question remains – is Mayer talented, intelligent, and physically attractive. The response to these queries is a big yes.

Similarity comprises the more simplistic elements of liking. The concept of similarity “is ingrained in the paradigm that whenever people like a leader, they are likely to say yes, to what the leader asks of them” (Heath & Bryant, 2000, p.83). The followers do not even bother to engage in arguments before following the set directions. For a company whose products are developed through coding, such as Yahoo!, for a leader being similar implies having the ability to do what employees are required to do. The educational background and work experience of Mayer prove that she is a guru in coding. She is similar to Yahoo’s product creators and innovators. Consequently, from the likability aspect of Robert Cialdini’s theory, there is no doubt on whether Mayer is a likable leader.

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Quintilian’s theory

Quintilian was born of Marcus Fabius Quintilanius in the area of Europe that is now occupied by Spain and Portugal. His father, who was dubbed by most scholars as an educated man himself, though not much else is said, sent Quintilian to Rome to study the art of rhetoric during the reign of Emperor Nero.

During this time in Rome, he developed a relationship with one of the most distinguished orators of all time, Domitius Afer. Quintilian regarded Afer as his mentor. From him, Quintilian learned further practical applications of rhetoric and courtroom advocacy. In year 69, the year more commonly known as The Year of the Four Emperors, Quintilian opened a school charged with the instruction of rhetoric after serving as part of the educational entourage of Emperor Galba. He practiced courtroom advocacy in both Spain and Rome. At one time, Quintilian was considered the greatest teacher in Rome. Indeed, he is recognized as the first teacher in Roman history to receive a state salary.

Quintilian’s paramount work in the world of rhetoric can be found in a progression of twelve books collectively known as the Institutio Oratoria, which at the time was considered dangerous by some people due to some of the foundations of the work in Ciceronian principle. This order of thinking at times dealt with openly speaking out against “anti-governmental” organizations or people. Ultimately, the Institutio was the “road map” that needed to be followed while training an orator. According to Quintilian, that journey began in infancy. This aspect perhaps may explain the argument that the greatest organizational leaders, who are well equipped with leadership skills such as the capacity to communicate effectively at interpersonal and intrapersonal level, have the skills ingrained in their personality.

This section focuses on the aspect of The Good Person Speaking Well or The Good Man Who is Skilled in Speaking aspect of the Quintilian theory. As discussed before, Quintilian was the author of Institutio Oratoria, in addition to being a famous Roman theorist in rhetoric. According to him, rhetoric not only constitutes persuasion art but also “a tool of the broadly educated citizen who is capable of analyzing, reflecting, and then taking powerful action in public affairs” (Bourelle, 2009, p.29). This suggests an effective organizational orator is the one who can analyze and articulate issues properly to establish an effective organizational vision and direction. In this context, Mayer’s appointment can prove that an organization can shake up its corporate structure to yield success in the future through a single appointment.

Quintilian believed that a true rhetorician must be of high moral character, exhibit sound decisions, and display good values (Bourelle, 2009). He took this belief a step further by alleging that a true rhetorician cannot be immoral and expect to have a factual understanding of moral topics like honesty, righteousness, and impartiality. In organizational leadership, honest communication is an important driver for success. Mayer went on record by asking the Yahoo people to uphold high moral standards and learn to communicate in a manner likely to reflect the level of their influence. During the Consumer Electronics Show, which was held this year, Mayer laid her strategic goals to investors, marketers, and all other parties interested in the future improved performance of Yahoo! This approach portrays her ability to use the Quintilian theory of a good person speaking well, which is backed by her past proven success in other organizations.

Mayer is well known for her success in leadership at Google. She has not been incriminated of any vice or malpractice in her career life. In this sense, she fits the definition offered for a good orator by Quintilian. Quintilian’s theory suggests that evil leaders fall short of becoming effective communicators since audiences definitely reject them (Bourelle, 2009). Such people only worry about how they will not be caught, rather than focusing on persuasive communication. Mayer started her interest in having home-based Yahoo! workers reporting at the workplace. This aspect implies that she has nothing to worry about over the evaluation of her accountability by all Yahoo workers in close proximity. Mayer believes that by having her work team confined in one place, she can better analyze various situations, which may improve their success and articulately address any issues arising along the way. In fact, her main concerns are how to bring people together and analyze their performance to identify their weaknesses and strengths. This aim entails deriving Yahoo’s success strategy capitalizing on the most productive workforce in terms of innovation and creativity strengths while mitigating their weaknesses.

The archetypal image of identity

Carl Juang advanced the idea of psychological archetypes. Archetypes refer to the “innate and universal prototypes for ideas used in the interpretation of observations” (Leary & Tangney, 2003, p.56). Such prototypes help in constructing common beliefs and attitudes in the workplace. They constitute identity images that people embrace within an organization, which shape their common goals and objectives. Indeed, it is hard to communicate effectively with people having different goals and objectives within an organization. Consequently, by deploying the identity aspect of the archetypal image theory, Mayer constitutes and ingrains appropriate identity prototypes in the minds of the Yahoo! Company workers. She aligns such identities with the desired corporate goals over her five-year contract period.

One of Mayer’s biggest merits fits perfectly into the identity archetype grouping defined as the Technical Adviser. When she accepted Yahoo’s CEO position, she brought with her an extensive pedigree of education and accomplishments from her time at Google. She was considered an expert in the industry even before she joined Yahoo! More proof of this assertion extends with the implementation of a multi-tiered plan to streamline the current technologies and acquire other Internet-based companies and technologies to promote further the Yahoo! brand among its rivals.

From the paradigms of the Archetypal image theory, identity refers to characteristics, which distinguish individuals and members of a given group from other people. Therefore, such characteristics are shared amongst group members for work teams within an organization. In a bid to communicate effectively, people within an organization must subscribe to a common way of thinking, interactions, values, and norms (Goldman, Santos, & Tully, 2008). Organizational norms, values, and the way of thinking define an organizational culture, which needs alignment with the business of a company. Hence, it is important for Mayer to create an appropriate organizational culture. Such a culture should reflect the desired future state of Yahoo! This way, the new culture will reflect and identify the new face of Yahoo!

Organizational cultural elements constitute some basic assumptions that, when adopted and observed by all the stakeholders of an organization, especially the diverse workforce, can aid in enhancing its success. For this reason, communication strategies entail the identification of probable audiences, followed by analyzing their characteristics in an effort to determine both the media and strategies that will produce the highest responses. Yahoo! employs people and targets customers of diverse backgrounds ethnically, professionally, and in terms of nationalities. Mayer values an organizational culture that emphasizes the importance of ardent communication to all stakeholders of the organization, including employees and customers. This culture requires a leader with the ability to communicate through formal and informal techniques. Given that Mayer displayed that she possessed these skills in the past when she worked at Goggle, she is undoubted what Yahoo! needs in the quest to build its success around people.

A culture for innovation and creativity is what Yahoo! requires. When Mayer, through her inter-personal and intra-personal communication skills, manages to institutionalize such a culture, it will comprise the identity distinguishing Yahoo! employees from workers of competing organizations. Through sharing the values of innovation and creativity, Mayer has the ability to establish and define performance requirements for necessary products to reengineer the growth curve of Yahoo! When these changes take place, perhaps Yahoo’s shares’ stock price will rise from US$ 38 to US$ 125 or even more.

Uncertainty reduction theory

Leading through communication calls for leaders to understand the audience adequately for every situation by paying attention to what motivates people to behave in certain ways. This aspect calls for Mayer to have awareness of the people that she leads at Yahoo! The purpose of developing this awareness rests on the assertion that effective organizational communication must reduce uncertainties and attachment of wrong meanings to ideas, events, or situations. Indeed, this argument is the backbone of the uncertainty-reduction communication theory.

The uncertainty-reduction communication theory suggests that people exchange information to reduce levels of incertitude in differing situations. Uncertainties negatively affect interpersonal relationships amongst people. Therefore, people require motivation in a bid to engage in interpersonal communication and thus reduce incertitude. Heath and Bryant (2000) support this argument by claiming that one of the motivations “underpinning interpersonal communication is the acquisition of information with which to reduce uncertainty” (p. 153). This assertion implies that reduction of uncertainties helps in shaping the audiences’ perception and making a decision on whether to pay attention to the leader while talking or not. Consequently, ethos and the initial presentation of a leader may create barriers to reception of the desired message where the audience possesses some uncertainties about an orator. In fact, when the audience does not listen to leaders when they speak, communication does not take place.

The need to posses the capacity to clear any uncertainty whenever contentious issues arise, which may lead to organizational conflicts, may explain Mayer’s continued emphasis that Yahoo! workers should report to work every day. Although she can still communicate to the workers through technological mediations such as video conferencing, the outcomes of persuasion coupled with ardent interpersonal communication depend on the communication media used. In this context, Heath and Bryant (2000) emphasize that face-to-face communication is very effective in helping to clear any uncertainties. In fact, compared to other media such as telephone, the Internet, and messaging, face-to-face communication makes it possible to transfer meaning verbally and emotionally. This way, audience can read the feeling of a communicator through gestures and facial expressions among other body language insinuations. For Mayer, emphasizing on having real contact with Yahoo! employees is a very critical aspect, which is necessary for effectiveness in clearing any uncertainties.

The Aristotelian rhetorical theory

The Aristotelian rhetorical theory argues that communication entangles a complex interaction process, but not mere sending of message anticipating that the audience will receive and decode it to create the desired meaning. Through the rhetorical theory, Aristotle challenged various assumptions on constituents of effective communication. Handa (2004) argues that Aristotle considered rhetoric “as a means of adding dimensions to the communication process to make it clear and understandable” (p.81). This assertion suggests that the goal of communication is to ensure that the audience understands or is capable of decoding the information transmitted by the communicator.

The rhetoric theory “holds that rhetoric depends on differing emotions, presentation of facts, figures, interrogatives, and deployment of moving language to articulate information and it also means hard hitting information to make message easier to understand and more likely to persuade” (DellaVigna & Gentzko, 2010, p.651). In a bid to applying this theory at Yahoo! Effectively, Mayer has to master the art of persuasion. This goal can be accomplished via the creation of positive ethos coupled with development of clear understanding of the nature of the people being led in terms of what propels them to pay attention to details. Influencing people requires evidence of benefits expected on implementation of organizational change. At Yahoo!, while executing leadership roles such communication, Mayer must ensure that she considers the needs of the audience while also providing various proofs of the ability to achieve her desired Yahoo! vision. These two aspects are key pillars of the Aristotelian rhetorical communication theory.

From the perspective of thinking about the needs of the audience, the Aristotelian rhetorical theory suggests that audience-speaker relationship is important in helping to construct meaning. Appreciation of this concern perhaps explains Mayer’s interest in bringing together employees of Yahoo! Company under one roof on a daily basis. This way, arguably, it can become possible to ensure that as the main organization’s communicator, she enhances her ability in taking the role of audience-centeredness. This approach corresponds to the Aristotelian rhetorical theory, which insists, “People should think about the audience as a group of individuals with motivations, decisions, and choices and not as some undifferentiated mass of homogeneous people” (Handa, 2004, p.99). For Merissa Mayer to understand her audiences well, she needs to conduct audience analyzes. However, how can she effectively analyze the virtual audience?

Following the Aristotelian rhetorical theory, Mayer is definitely right in her strategic decision for reinstituting the culture of virtual working at Yahoo! According to the rhetorical theory advanced by Aristotle, organizational leaders also need to make use of proofs in their presentations. These proofs are simply strategies for enhancing persuasion. They include ethos, logos, and equally important, the pathos. Pathos implies “all the emotions that emerge from the listeners once engaged in communication and listeners judge differently when they are influenced by joy, pain, hatred, or fear” (DellaVigna & Gentzko, 2010, p.653). By studying the emotions of the listeners, a leader develops the ability to judge his or effectiveness in communication in terms of whether he or she has aroused the appropriate emotions. This goal is best achieved without technological mediation to enhance communication.

Logos refers to logical proofs deployed by communicators. They include rationalizations, a myriad of discourses, and arguments. Handa (2004) states that logos “involves using a number of practices, including logical claims and clear language” (p.105). The effectiveness of leading a design team, which must come up with new products to meet specific requirements, requires accuracy and precision in communication. Having worked before in leading active coding teams, Mayer is well aware that now while working at Yahoo!, communication using poetic phrases, which lack no logical organization to ensure clarity, is a catalyst for failure in the realization of her mandates at the company during her tenure. Mutual influence of the communicator and the listeners is an important attribute of effective organizational communicator like Mayer. Aristotle utilized the term ethos to define this attribute.

Corporate social responsibility

Organizations serve the needs of different stakeholders such the owners, the government, communities, and employees among others. In a bid to satisfy the needs of these groups, the communication personnel in an organization must deploy the appropriate corporate branding strategy. This aspect refers to the “perception of a company that unites a group of products or services for the public under a single name, a shared visual identity, and a common set of symbols” (Balmer & Wilson, 1998, p.13). Yahoo! serves the needs of different stakeholders. Consequently, Mayer, as the CEO and the person responsible for setting the direction of the organization, cannot fail to consider corporate social responsibility theoretical approaches in enhancing her effectiveness in her in communication.

Heath and Palencher (2009) are of the view that the corporate social responsibility precepts in organizational communication settings are crucial and specifically for firms seeking to recover from a downfall. For instance, corporate branding is important when “customers perceive a high degree of risk in purchasing products or services of a company” (Balmer & Wilson, 1998, p.19). In this line of argument, the main mandate of Mayer is to revive the performance of Yahoo! after experiencing high reduction in the stock prices of its share over the last decade. Myer needs to position the Yahoo! corporate brand such that it can rebuild the interest of an investor who had bought the company shares at US $125, only dispose them later at US$4. Certainly, Mayer possesses the capacity to present a favorable Yahoo! corporate identity through corporate communication.


The improvement of communication technologies experienced within the last two decades provides easy and speedy ways through which leaders can express their visions for organizations. However, Marissa Mayer, the CEO and the president of Yahoo!, decided to alter the virtual working culture of the company. She now requires all virtual workers to report physically at work. While this decision may present some challenges associated with reluctance to embrace organizational change, this paper has clarified that such a move is important and necessary if Mayer will succeed in using communication as a tool for engaging and motivating employees. This position applies in the context of discussion of Mayer’s communication approaches in the context of Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons” of influence, the Quintilian’s, the archetypal image of identity, uncertainty reduction , Aristotelian rhetorical, and the corporate social responsibility communication theories.


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