As a media professional, you must understand the meanings behind the words you use. Words are powerful and can be used and abused in many ways. Words should be used as precise tools to convey your desired meanings. Always think of your audience first, and be on guard for words that may label, stereotype, or otherwise treat anyone in an unethical manner. Semiotics present a useful heuristic, or tool, to help us chart the meanings of words and determine their potential impact on audience members. Based upon the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, semiotics focuses on how people understand each other through the passing of “signs” in communication.
Semiotic signs are units of meaning composed of two elements: the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the form of the communication (a spoken word, written word, a nonverbal gesture, for example.). The signified is the concept, the meaning associated with the word, details this relationship. Here is an example of how you can use semiotics to help build messages. Suppose you are a public relations director at your local United Way chapter. Your manager asks you to draft a speech she will be delivering to the Rotary Club next week.
Based upon the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, semiotics focuses on how people understand each other through the passing of “signs” in communication.