If there is something that will be accompanying humanity until the end of its days, it is protocol. It is a practical discipline by nature, which is why there has never been a need to register it, but with the emergence of communication, sciences have begun to be studied. The reason is simple: it is a powerful communication tool that helps connect public and private organisations with their audiences.

One of the problems facing the discipline, which we will discuss in a future article, is the lack of scientific research. 99% of the protocol manuals that we can find today in the market have a practical profile, which means that they are written from a professional perspective and not with a scientific approach. As a result, we can say that no one knows what the protocol is because the scientific method has not been applied to approach this concept.

The review of the current little scientific literature on protocol leads us to affirm that protocol is a science in the embryonic state (Álvarez Rodríguez, 2008; Pulido Polo, 2015; Ramos Fernández, 2013; Ramos Fernández, 2014;  y Sáez González & Martínez Fierro, 2020) that, depending on what the professional and research community does, will be consolidated as a science or remain in a simple auxiliary tool.

So, as a science, what does protocol refer to? Our research is the science of the human order since it gives us a series of rules and guidelines to ensure peaceful and positive coexistence among human beings. In addition, this regulation takes a special value in celebrating the symbols -the events- due to its communicative value. Let us think that, from the moment two human beings decided to live together, they needed to generate a series of rules that allow them to live together. Who will sleep in the safest place? Who will eat the most nutritious foods? Who has the merits to lead the group? This coexistence will become more and more complex with the growth of the groups, which will make the rules of the protocol more like what we know today.

Maribel Gómez and I have come up with a definition of a protocol. The objective has been to reflect what the latest scientific literature on the subject gathers and our professional experience to bring discipline to the 21st century and build protocol’s science. This is our proposal which we hope will help to shed light on this subject that is taking its first steps and that supposes not only our profession but the passion for what we do:

“The protocol is a transversal scientific discipline that defines the social structures and norms generated by use, custom, tradition or legislation that society is endowed with to guarantee and facilitate the harmonious coexistence of all its members. As a communication tool that applies to all social areas, the protocol takes special relevance in the organisation of public and private events, where it provides techniques that make tangible the intangible.”

As we have already argued, there is no doubt regarding its scientific approach. It is a science in an embryonic state. This means that it is in its beginnings, as it happened with other social sciences such as psychology or sociology at the time.

We are talking about a transversal discipline because it involves civil society, public and private organisations, and institutions. The protocol is present in all layers on which the present society is built. It reflects society, and it changes and adapts along with it.

One of the objectives of the protocol is to give order. Therefore, through this matter, we can describe the state and social structures of the society to which it belongs. For example, by reading the Royal Decree 2099/1983 of precedence (art. 10 and 12) of the Kingdom of Spain, we can understand how this country is structured.

It produces rules generated by either considering what society usually does (customs or traditions) or those generated by legislative channels from the current Government. All this with a final aim: to guarantee and structure the coexistence of a certain social group.

It is a communication tool because it is used by institutions, private companies, and civil society to communicate. And therefore, the rules produced by the protocol take on special relevance in the organisation of events, public or private.

The protocol makes the intangible tangible because it allows us to speak without words. It is an essential ally in generating an institutional or corporate image in organisations and social people. It uses its essential four principles elements: spaces, people, times, and symbols. For example, within the latter, we consider the flags of countries since they make it clear to us who is hosting an event without the need for words.

In conclusion, we would like to address all those interested in the subject of the protocol. We expect professionals to find this definition interesting and appropriate. To the students of the subject, we hope that it has helped them shed light on your future work, and we encourage you to research the protocol. And to non-expert people, we hope that it will help you understand a little better what protocol is and what we professionals do in the field.


Álvarez Rodríguez, M. L. (2008). Artículos de protocolo y ceremonial en Revistas Académicas Iberoamericanas. Razón y Palabra. Primera revista electrónica en lationoamérica especializada en comunicación, (65), 1-11.

Delmás Martín, D., & Gómez Hernando, M. (2019). Spoilers de Protocolo. (Editorum, Ed.) (1a Edición). Madrid: Editorum.

Orozco López, J. de D. (2016). Protocolo para la organización de actos oficiales y empresariales. (I. Editorial, Ed.). Antequera: ic editorial.

Pulido Polo, M. (2015). Ceremonial y protocolo: métodos y técnicas de investigación científica. Revista de Comunicación Vivat Academia, 65, 1137-1156.

Ramos Fernández, F. (2013). Método científico e interferencias comerciales en la construcción de la ciencia del protocolo. Una reflexión crítica para un proceso innovador y creíble. Revista de Comunicación Vivat Academia, 1-16.

Ramos Fernández, F. (2014). El Protocolo como ciencia propia en el ecosistema de la Comunicación. Espacios posibles para transformar una técnica en una disciplina científica. Estudios sobre el Mensaje Periodístico, 19(2), 1075-1089.

Sáez González, E., & Martínez Fierro, S. J. (2020). Protocolo como disciplina científica: un análisis bibliométrico. Revista Estudios Institucionales, 7(12), 149-178.




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 Written by: Daniel DELMÁS, Professional of events and protocol

30 July 2021, The Netherlands

Category: Internancional Protocol 

Reference: DD300721IP

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