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 and that is the reason 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 organizations 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 to this day no one knows what the protocol really is because the scientific method has not been applied to approach this concept.
The review of the current little scientific literature in protocol leads us to affirm that protocol is a science in 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? According 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 the celebration of the symbols -the events- due to its communicative value. Let us think that, from the moment in which 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 protocol more like what we know today.
Maribel Gómez and I have come up with a definition of protocol. The objective has been to reflect what the latest scientific literature on the subject gathers, as well as 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 organization of events, both public and private, where it provides techniques that make tangible the intangible”
Regarding its scientific approach, as we have already argued, there is no doubt. 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 organizations, and institutions. The protocol is present in all layers on which the present society is built. It is a reflection of 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, reading the Royal Decree 2099/1983 of precedence (art. 10 and 12) of the Kingdom of Spain, we can have a broad idea of 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 organization of events, public or private.
Protocol makes the intangible tangible because it allows us to speak without words. It is a very important ally to generate institutional or corporate image in organizations and social people. It uses its basic four principles elements: spaces, people, times, and symbols. Within the latter, for example, 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 to shed light on what your future work will be, and we encourage you to research in protocol. And to non-expert people, we hope that it will help you to understand a little better what protocol really 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. https://doi.org/10.5209/rev_ESMP.2013.v19.n2.43489
Sáez González, E., & Martínez Fierro, S. J. (2020). Protocolo como disciplina científica: un análisis bibliométrico. Revista Estudios Institucionales, 7(12), 149-178. https://doi.org/10.5944/eeii.vol.7.n.12.2020.26964