Self-praise strategies in French and US press releases: a cross-cultural perspective

30 May 2024
Conference Room

Self-praise strategies in French and US press releases: a cross-cultural perspective

Within Politeness Theory, self-praise has traditionally been described as a problematic speech act, since it infringes the “maxim of modesty” (Leech, 1983) and it does not take into account the hearer’s feelings (Dayter, 2016). However, it has also been shown that specific contexts such as social media (e.g. Matley, 2018) tend to impose fewer restrictions on self-praise. Culture has been referred to as another factor that plays a role in the acceptance of self-praise (Dayter, 2016), but until now very few studies have been devoted to the impact of culture on the pragmatic realization of this speech act.

In this paper, the focus shifts from interactions between ‘natural persons’ to self-praise strategies used by ‘legal persons’, more specifically French and American companies, in press releases published on their corporate websites. Interestingly, press releases appear to provide a another context where self-praise is both expected by journalists and delicate as a speech act. Companies are typically well aware that their communication must strike a balance, avoiding excessive promotion to increase the likelihood of being picked up by journalists (Pander, Maat 2007; Catenaccio, 2008).

Based on previous research on the metapragmatics of press releases (Jacobs, 1999) and on self-praise (Dayter, 2014; Tobback, 2019), It will be demonstrated that both French and American companies employ various indirect and distancing mechanisms to present themselves positively. Moreover, in contrast to LindedIn summaries (Tobback, 2019), similarities appear to prevail on ‘cultural’ differences.  This observation might suggest that the highly conventionalized nature of press releases as a text genre overrides culturally determined ‘communication styles’ found in other discursive contexts.



Catenaccio, P. (2008). Press releases as a hybrid genre: Addressing the informative /promotional conundrum. Pragmatics, 18(1), 9–32.

Dayter, D. (2016). Discursive Self in Microblogging: speech acts, stories and self-praise, John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Jacobs, G. (1999). Preformulating the news: an analysis of the metapragmatics of press releases. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Matley, D. (2018). ‘This is NOT a# humblebrag, this is just a# brag’: The pragmatics of self-praise, hashtags and politeness in Instagram posts. Discourse, Context & media 22: 30–38.

Pander Maat, H. (2007). How promotional language in press releases is dealt with by journalists: Genre mixing or genre conflict? Journal of Business Communication 44.1, 59-95.

Tobback, E. (2019). Telling the world how skilful you are : self-praise strategies on LinkedInDiscourse & communication, 13:6, 647-668.