COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

An Audience Adaptation Model

 last updated 3/5/2012


  To begin planning a persuasive campaign strategy, develop message concepts/appeals as indicated below:

1st.  Select/create one or more "best arguments" for your campaign goal (derived from your Campaign Overview and Audience paper).  Plan to develop a message that uses the Central Route (engaged audience) by use of the Rational Model. Identify each of the terms in the model (below) such that the argument you make using the model produces the behavior you want.

[  B + V/M = Attitude --> Behavior  ]


2nd.  Develop/Identify Audience segments

A.  select/create segments from:

a)  groups open to Belief change

b)  groups with change potential in Value/motive saliency

c) consider your ability to  target and reach segments with your messages and plan to deliver targeted messages to them.  Availability of opinion leaders may be helpful in selecting segments.


B.  set goals for segments that are REALISTIC

a)  consider persuasion by degree

b)  remember behavior depends on attitude toward concept(s) and attitude toward behavior(s)

c)  consider situational constraints on messages and behavior.

     3rd.  In designing persuasive message systems, for each segment,

Develop initial messages using the rational model (see "1st" above).  Then supplement the rational model by considering:

A.  Pick good sources for your messages.

a)  apply source implications from:  balance, congruity, & cognitive dissonance theories

b)  select sources to emphasize: relevant similarities to segment, segment reference groups (perception theory) and other credibility factors


B.  Features for specific messages:

a)  use your "best arguments" (see above) as relevant to the segment you will target

b)  emphasize common ground between source & segment members in your messages:

common experience, shared values/beliefs, reference groups...

c)  make messages receiver oriented - believable and consistent with audience V/Ms.

d)  insure messages includes material for creating attention/comprehension as well as retention/yielding.


C.  Behavioral expectations.  Plan ways to get needed action if that is appropriate to your message goals!

a)  use conditioning/reinforcement techniques, incentives and repetition

b)  consider creating dissonance relevant to behavior (e.g. gain public commitment, preliminary action/behavior (try it out), etc.

c)  provide directions for action -

  • Be explicit and simple,

  • Give complete directions

  • Deal with negative attitudes toward behavior

  • Be clear on purpose - so that segment can resolve dissonance/imbalance as you wish them too.

Homework for our next class meeting:

  • Come prepared to discuss your message strategy presentation “message” idea. What message will you use? What theory and "appeals" we have been discussing in class will you use?  Be somewhat clear as to the following:

    • what the message and medium will be,

    • what your specific purpose is (including the timing of the message in your campaign,

    • who the audience/segment is for this appeal, and

    • what you will do to make use of theory and appeals in this message.