Leaders banking on ethos
This paper investigates persuasion in the context of the current economic-financial crisis by focusing on the strategies employed by banks to attract and preserve confidence. The targeted genre is senior executives’ letters to the shareholders issued before and during crisis. Theoretically, the study predicates on two crucial perspectives: it relies on Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals (<i>ethos, pathos, logos</i>) and on Close Textual Analysis (Browne 2009), an interpretive practice whose aim is to decipher the linguistic particulars underlying the rhetorical force of a text, and it equally tackles other semiotic resources that are considered to be persuasion markers. The twofold investigation (both quantitative and qualitative) shows that the crisis exerts psychological and economic pressures upon the communication stream even between high-performing banking institutions and their website audience, and, therefore, the three rhetorical appeals, ethos, pathos, logos are fully enhanced and appropriately adjusted towards shaping the desired corporate image.