What I Learned

When I realized I had to take Persuasion Communication to graduate I theorized how I could take it without actually doing much communication, my last class in Communication Research not being much of a success in either grade or social standing. However, as this semester progressed I realized there was a lot of interesting, subtle communication tools I never thought of as such.

The topic of persuasion has always been a rather interesting topic  to me, but I never seemed to have much luck persuading anyone of anything important. Thus, I found the ELM to be very helpful. Before this class I categorized persuasion as subtle or non-subtle, not in terms of central route or peripheral route. Furthermore, a lot of the other concepts and persuasion tactics we discussed seemed fairly obvious, but it wasn’t until we discussed them in class and wrote blogs on them that I did any critical thinking on the matter.

Personally I think the blogs were the most helpful in this class because they created the critical thinking and application necessary to make the class relate able to us individually. The second most helpful thing was the logic presentation, again because of the application. The logic presentations tied it all together for me because you didn’t just have to think of your side. You had to think of how to make a persuasive speech while lowering the impact of someone else’s persuasion. In today’s world of business, especially marketing, you have to be good at that for your job and ultimately your company to survive.

The class was more helpful and interesting than I anticipated and I am very glad I took it at MSU. I believe the  knowledge it gave me will be very beneficial in both my personal life and career.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson referred to Indians with euphemisms such as “subjects of intellectual curiosity, enemies in war, and partners in peace.” Jefferson believed that “our system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment from them by everything just and liberal which we can do for them within the bounds of reason, and by giving them effectual protection against wrongs from our own people.” He explicitly expressed this belief in his speeches, relationships, and actions in office.

On December 30, 1806, Thomas Jefferson addressed the Wolf and the people of the Mandan Nation (presidential speech). He sought to establish credibility in the beginning using god terms such as friends, children, and beloved when describing them and one of his men they had spoken to previously. He then went on to give them “advice.” He said,

“If you will cease to make war on one another, if you will live in friendship with all mankind, you can employ all your time in providing food and clothing for yourselves and your families. Your men will not be destroyed in war, and your women and children will lie down to sleep in their cabins without fear of being surprised by their enemies and killed or carried away. Your numbers will be increased instead of diminishing, and you will live in plenty and in quiet.”

In this part of his speech he painted a picture for them of what life could be like if they listened to him. He emphasized all of the positive reasons to follow his lead and made the alternative sound like an obviously bad choice. He used powerful language instead of powerless language, and frequently used the word “our” instead of your. He spoke like he was part of their group not an outsider, and he made his mental pictures stronger by using vivid language (the clouds will fly away like morning fog, and the sun of friendship appear and shine forever bright and clear between us).

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Thomas Jefferson’s speech to the Indians and I believe it had all of the necessary traits to be very effective.

Penn State Football Scandal

                                     Report Finds Paterno Aided Sandusky Cover-Up

In November of 2011 former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 criminal accounts of child sexual abuse (Sandusky Timeline of Dates). During the trial that ensued it was discovered that Head Coach Joe Paterno and several other key Penn State school officials were aware of the abuse, but failed to report it to authorities. Many people wonder why. Why would people who were responsible for the safety and welfare of children on their campus allow such a thing to go on? The simple answer is social proof.

Social proof is the principle that the more people are doing something, the more likely you will do it yourself (Neil). Our textbook defines it as the tendency to see an action as more appropriate when others are doing it. “Paterno…along with PSU president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz ‘repeatedly concealed critical facts’ in order to prevent bad publicity for the school,” according to a private investigation report. In other words, multiple people with the authority to stop it agreed not to because it was better for the school to keep it quiet. If just one of them had not gone along with group conformity and social proofing Sandusky could have been stopped and therefore been unable to continue abusing young boys for years beyond the first revelation of his behavior. However, each of them apparently thought more of their school’s football program than they did of the young boys whose trust and protection Sandusky violated.

It is sad that this type of incident could have been stopped so much earlier, but wasn’t because of social pressures. Thankfully the NCAA hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban, and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998 after the scandal to prevent such a thing from happening again.

Celebrity Credibility vs. Influence

The topic for our blog this week is why a specific celebrity is or is not credible. However, I don’t believe there is always a simple black and white answer; Therefore, I feel that I must first address the issue of celebrity credibility vs. celebrity influence.

As my roommate and I were discussing, any given celebrity has influence that can directly affect their credibility, but that doesn’t mean they equal each other. According to dictionary.com influence is “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.” That sounds a lot like credibility doesn’t it? But, a person may exert compelling force on or produce effects on someone or something without being believable or trustworthy. Gass & Seiter define credibility as “judgments made by a perceiver concerning the believability of a communicator.” Dictionary.com defines credibility as “the quality of being believable or worthy of trust.” Gass & Seiter state that the primary dimensions of credibility are expertise, trustworthiness, and goodwill, but the sad truth is that celebrities will often influence a population without exhibiting any of those things. A perfect example is when Obama first ran for President. During his election campaign the media interviewed random African-Americans and asked them questions about whether they approved of his vice president and statements he had made in his speeches.One person was asked if he agreed with Sarah Palin being Obama’s vice president. He got very animated saying how great it was and how he was such a supporter of Obama, but Sarah Palin was running against Obama for President! This guy wasn’t voting for Obama because he was credible, he was voting for him because he was black! I’m not saying that influencing someone without having credibility is always a bad thing, but it definitely can be and the two terms should not be confused with one another, and in today’s society they often are. A perfect example of this is Lindsay Lohan.

A celebrity that I believe holds no credibility, and very little influence on me, is Lindsay Lohan. As a child star she was a role model for me as well as many other teenage girls. She was pretty and she was a good actress and she could have probably sold me anything through influence alone. However, by last year she had already completed numerous stints in rehab and was arrested for driving under the influence twice. Last year she also reportedly shot a commercial for Beezid.com while on house arrest. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion states that there are two routes to persuasion, cognitive and peripheral. According to Gass & Seiter, credibility falls under the peripheral route. This means that credibility “tends to work its magic when receiver involvement is low” and no one will be consciously thinking “is this person credible or not?” every time someone tries to persuade them to do or buy something. This theory holds true for me in the case of Lindsay Lohan because I have no interest in Beezid.com and when I start watching a commercial with Lindsay in it I subconsciously have the natural inclination to say, “she’s a drug addict and alcoholic, why would I trust her?”  As my male roommate pointed out, if she were dressed in skimpy clothing and photo-shopped like other models and sat on a shiny, new corvette she could probably sell a guy a new car. Companies use celebrities to endorse their services and products like that on a daily basis because of the influence they have on the general public. But again, that does not make them a credible source.

Paul Christ says, “Many marketers are eager to spend their promotional money on celebrities because they believe a strong celebrity can quickly heighten awareness for a brand. ” He goes on to corroborate my example when he says, “However, such promotional techniques also pose risks if something negative happens to the celebrity.” If Lindsay Lohan wanted to boost her credibility she would need to have more positive publicity and have promotions for products and services promoting goodwill towards others, such as helping kids or donating to mission trips to third-world countries.

To sum up this week’s blog I can say one thing: A celebrity can have influence, credibility, or a combination of the two; whatever the case may be the two terms do not mean the same thing and both should be taken into account when evaluating a celebrity’s persuasive appeal.

Dave Drove a Ford

When I first started thinking about this post being based on chapter 3 material I couldn’t decide how I wanted to narrow down the ideas to a specific story or idea to write about, so I started browsing YouTube commercials that we watched in class to see if it would spark something for me. Next, I began browsing other commercials for brands that I like and I kept a close eye on how the companies used different elements to express the qualities of the companies that made me like them. One of my favorites was done by Chevrolet.

In my example Chevrolet shows a man and his dog driving out of the rubble of a building in a Chevy truck in what appears to be the end of time. They drive through the fiery debris of a city and meet other guys standing in front of their trucks in a semi-circle. The man gets out, walks up to their circle, and asks where his friend Dave is. One of the guys shakes his head, looks very serious, and says, “Dave didn’t drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road. Dave drove a Ford.” Obviously the company is focusing on the reliability of its product and implying that other brands such as Ford aren’t good enough to even really compare. It is seeking to create a brand personality that stands out.

As we discussed in class, and an online management study guide re-iterates, ” Brand personality is the way a brand speaks and behaves. It means assigning human personality traits/characteristics to a brand so as to achieve differentiation.” Our book gives a more in-depth explanation of this when it talks about attitudes as associative networks. It likens our attitudes, beliefs, and values to a spider’s web and says that persuaders try to create connections among these networks. In its commercial Chevrolet was trying to create a connection between its truck and satisfaction in something tough and long-lasting.

When companies can help or cause consumers to associate positive things with their products and services they create brand loyalty and thus increase the chances of the customer becoming a loyal customer. A company depends on its consumers to run, so loyal customers generally equate to prosperity for that company. It has  been said that “the consumer owns the brand.” If the company does not create brand loyalty it will not succeed, and it creates brand loyalty by creating a brand personality.

I have a Chevrolet truck that has been both very tough and reliable, so I had brand loyalty based on personal experience before I saw the commercial. Watching the commercial made me smile and re-enforced my belief that I have a great truck.

Why take it?

Persuasion affects everyone to a certain extent every day whether we realize it or not. When I stopped and thought about a time that I was consciously persuaded by something or someone I thought about the beginning of this semester.

I came to MSU as a guest student for a variety of reasons and I was only required to take this class. However, my boyfriend had told me several times in the months before that I should take the Basic Horsemanship class. I love horses, I work with horses on a regular basis, and I am always looking for ways to improve my horsemanship, so it seemed like a great idea at first. However, I knew I had to have 300 hrs in an internship this semester, I had to take this Persuasion Communication class, and I had to possibly look for a part-time job so it didn’t look like it was going to happen.

My boyfriend knew all of this and he presented his case very well by elaborating on how good the teacher was, how much he learned, and how much fun it was. He repeated multiple times that I would like it and that I should take it despite my busy schedule. I wasn’t completely sold on it by the end of the summer, but I was close. Furthermore, after my boyfriend and I broke up I knew that I would have to stay at MSU this semester to graduate in December and if I decide to stay in Murray longer I can’t take other riding classes without taking Basic Horsemanship first. I thought about all of those things a great deal and then decided to give it a shot.

After reading Chapter 3 in our book I saw how the Theory of Reasoned Action had taken effect. My boyfriend positively influenced my belief about the outcome, that is that I would learn new things and have fun, and the evaluation of the outcome, that he would be happy if I did it and others would see what a better rider I was. Those things in turn positively influenced my attitude about taking the class, which in turn influenced my behavioral intention.

I also read an article by AJ Kumar called “5 Techniques that Make You Powerful, Persuasive, & Influential.” Three of those techniques contributed significantly to my decision: The “Because” Technique, the Social Expectancy Effect, and the Half & Half Technique.

A second article I read that held some relevancy to my situation was “Influence and Persuasion Techniques Not Typically Shared.” It discussed Social Validation and Liking/Friendship as did our book and the previous article, but it also touched on scarcity, which in my case was a very big deal. One of the biggest reasons I decided to take the class was because I knew it wouldn’t be offered next semester and I couldn’t take other classes without it.

We have discussed in class the number of ways people are bombarded with thousands of persuasive messages everyday, and we have touched on several reasons they are effective. By reading the material I did and applying it to the above-mentioned situation I was able to take our class discussions and make them relevant to everyday life. It also further ingrained the persuasive techniques in my mind through simple repetition of material.

Why is Persuasion Important in Non-Profit Organizations?

As a future professional in the non-profit world I believe it is most beneficial to look at why persuasion is so critical to the success of non-profit organizations.

The most prevalent reason is that non-profit organizations rely almost completely on fundraising efforts and donations to prosper or many times to even survive. It is my job then, as a professional, to persuade others to give to my organization. In order to accomplish that goal I have to persuade them to buy into the vision and mission of the organization. I have to persuade them that it is important. Greg Bowden reiterates this when he says, “we seek to persuade. Not just to help people understand our mission but to convince them to make it their own.” He even takes it a step further and touches on persuausion tactics by pointing out that, “Persuasion relies on the individual becoming more invested in the mission. We must impress upon them our own sense of urgency and passion, but do so in such a way that makes their decision to become more involved seem their own.”

Our book defines persuasion as a process that involves one or more persons, also known as interpersonal relationships. Relationships are the foundation for nonprofit organizations because without them you cannot fundraise or ask for gifts effectively. A website I found discusses community organization fundraising as it pertains to nonprofit organizations. One of the points it emphasizes is the principle of authority. Simply put, they use people in positions of authority to persuade others and to try to build relationships. I believe that this principle has validity and can be a useful tool. By using a person in a position of power you are using their credibilty to build your own credibilty.

To sum up what I just said and reiterate what was discussed in class, persuasion is a pervasive tool that is constantly being used in every business and organization. When used correctly persuasion can help non-profit organizations build credibilty, build relationships, and increase donations and fundraising, which results in its sustainability.