by Gabrielle Adeoti
To: Dr. Cummings
From: Kim Rubish
Date: 16 February 2016
Subject: MP1 Self-Analysis
In our class, you have pointed out that one of our main objectives is learning to “synthesize fundamental rhetorical principles with business communication theory to analyze the persuasive and communicative strategies of business writing in multiple contexts, using multiple genres”. I firmly believe that through my work on MP1, I made substantial progress on this learning goal.
Specifically, through revision and peer comments, this project helped me better understand the process of analyzing persuasive and communicative strategies in the posts that I was analyzing. In my original draft, a significant amount of my analysis was my own conjecture—comments on things I thought seemed persuasive. After reviewing my peer edits, I realized that I needed to back up my points with actual references to our class material. By combing the textbook for information multiple times, I gained a better understanding of all of our material. For example, in my original draft, I didn’t realize that one of my posts used an emotional appeal, but after re-reading and searching the textbook, I realized how different types of appeals were functioning in the posts I chose. Thus, I learned how to better identify and analyze persuasive techniques, which showed up in my final draft.
Further, I believe that this project helped me make progress on analyzing writing in “multiple contexts”. The posts I analyzed were not all the same, and having to understand each of them helped me understand the small but vital differences between positive, negative, and persuasive messages. Before completing this project, I had a basic understanding of the content of all of the types of messages, but after completion, I genuinely think I could apply the knowledge in real-world settings. I feel confident in my ability to distinguish between types of messages, which I was not sure about before MP1. For example, when I started finding posts to use for my project, I originally intended to use my second post (referring to a marked-down property) as a positive message. After searching for textbook information to back this up, I realized I had misunderstood what a positive message was. From there, I was able to identify the post as a persuasive message, and then find a truly positive message later.
by Abigail Gleason
The homepage of Winston-Salem, NC office of Leonard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate (LBR) makes a pleasant, informative first impression on its audience. Ryan Ireland’s presentation on the basics of digital writing emphasizes the importance of accessibility and simple interface navigation, an aspect of communication that is immediately apparent on the homepage of Leonard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate (“digitalwriting.mp4).
Web Publications & The Rhetorical Triangle
LRB’s prominently featured slogan effectively appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos in just four words: “Local Agents, Local Knowledge” (Leondard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate). By introducing the business as a local organization, the writers establish logos under the simple but effective implication that agents who call Winston-Salem home should know local real estate better than non-natives in the area.
Emphasizing the company’s local identity also promotes pathos by highlighting common ground between the readers and the writers, essentially creating an emotional connection between the business and its audience. While this emotional appeal is subtle and probably subconscious to most consumers and potential clients, it is a highly effective and carefully constructed rhetorical strategy that creates a sense of community between Leonard-Ryden-Burr personnel and clients who are interested in buying property in the area.
Guaranteeing local expertise reinforces LRB’s ethos in this rhetorical situation by assuring its audience that this company in particular is more credible than competitors due to its commitment to hiring and serving a community of Winston-Salem natives. Creating and maintaining a sense of community and hometown pride and capitalizing on the notion of “insider knowledge” persuades readers to deduce that LRB has an edge over non-local competitors.
Catering to Consumers
The suggestions for composing effective business blogs listed in chapter five in The Essentials of Business Communication can easily be seen in how the homepage successfully identifies “a need” and proposes “to solve a problem” before leading users to continue exploring the rest of the website (“Short Workplace Messages and Digital Media”). Users are immediately presented with a cordial, concise welcome message that gives LRB’s customers pertinent information without making readers sift through ineffectual, nonessential content.
In adapting to its potential clients and anticipating its audiences’ responses to its services and marketing, LRB uses community-oriented, confident diction that reinforces a sense of goodwill between business personnel and those who are using their website, creating a comfortable experience during a potentially stressful transitional time for clients who are looking to move or sell their home. The site even features a personalized webpage for each staff member, allowing clients to read about and interact with various realtors before deciding on an agent. Some agents, like Ron Arend, added a “Just for Kids” link to his page that features fun, educational websites for children (“Agents”); in doing so, Arend markets himself to families with young children and demonstrates a strong understanding of his potential audiences, as is discussed in chapter one of Essentials of Business Communication (Guffey and Loewy).
In the opening statement on the homepage where LRB promises to conduct business “with a dedication to professionalism, local knowledge and giving back to our community” (Leondard-Ryden-Burr), LRB also takes advantage of the “you” view by emphasizing how the customer and his or her surrounding community will benefit from the services of LRB (“Planning Business Messages). By effectively employing the basic principles of rhetorical theory and applying some of the strategies discussed in our textbook for proper business writing, Leondard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate composed a professional, easy to navigate website that provides an engaging and pleasant experience for its audience.
Guffey, Mary Ellen, and Dana Loewy. “Planning Business Messages.”Essentials of Business Communication. 10th ed. Boston: Cengage, 2016. N. pag. MindTap. Cengage. Web.
Guffey, Mary Ellen, and Dana Loewy. “Short Workplace Messages and Digital Media.” Essentials of Business Communication. 10th ed. Boston: Cengage, 2016. N. pag. MindTap. Cengage. Web.
Ireland, Ryan. “digitalwriting.mp4” Online video clip. Youtube. 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
“Agents.” Leondard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate. Delta Media Group, n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
Leondard-Ryden-Burr Real Estate. Delta Media Group, n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
By Bethany Showers
Have you ever seen a Buzzfeed video, laughed for days about it, but kept thinking about the products featured in the ad? For example, consider the “Dear Kitten” videos, where famous voice-actor/Youtuber, Ze Frank voices a grouchy cat mentoring a young kitten. In this famous series, which has collectively received over one million views, the company Friskies is featured as the sponsor every time. Because of this video, “#DearKitten” became popular on Twitter without any additional work on Friskies’ part, showing how powerful social media can be (Cullers).
Social media can be a wonderful platform for marketing, especially because it allows a business to communicate with a community of people at once. According to Schwom and Snyder, it “allows interactive communication” and is “eas[ier] to keep up to date” (85). When you’re outlet is easy to use and easy to see, it’s understandable why so many people log in as soon as they can to start advertising, but there are many things to keep in mind. The language online is a little different from our everyday casual and business jargon. New forms of marketing are being formed and old forms are almost detested when they are spotted on common social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. It may be difficult, but in order to be adaptable to this changing culture, businesses everywhere need to learn how to keep up.
One of these new forms of marketing is known as “inbound marketing.” Coined by the marketing company, HubSpot, inbound marketing is “about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more” (HubSpot). This is also known as “content marketing,” meaning a company provides its customers/clients with informative or interesting content instead of products (Shwom and Synder 185). This kind of marketing brings in those who would not have paid attention to a regular ad and entices them to watch a persuasive video, view a powerful photo, or think deeply about an eloquently compelling topic, all the while having the company in the back of their minds.
This method of marketing follows a specific flow of viewer evolution, according to HubSpot. In the following image, viewers are at first strangers who are attracted to a site or content-based ad. As they are attracted, they transform into “visitors” and then are converted into “leads,” then official “customers” and finally “promoters” themselves! Each tier has a list of social media outlets these types of consumers were led by, such as the “visitor” being only likely blog links or keywords or the “customers” being led by specific emails and workflows. Once a consumer becomes a “promoter,” they are expected to promote the company to the stranger and the cycle begins again.
For example, this type of content marketing was front and center in the “Dear Kitten” ads for the cat food, Friskies. Executed by the popular content sharing network, Buzzfeed, this video series is an example of “positive advertisements,” or marketing that works and brings in more consumers. The “Dear Kitten” videos portray two adorable animals, proven to access of more attentive and positive response in people (“Why Babies and Other Things Are Cute, Explained”), one older cat mentoring a young kitten about life. Already attracted to such a scene, people are most likely to watch until the end for the video includes both cute images and humorous jokes, such as portraying the classic stereotype of a grouchy yet sophisticated old cat “hiss[ing] at [the new kitten] the customary 437 times” before beginning to educate the newcomer (Buzzfeed). With 23, 467, 873 views, it’s safe to say this video was a success, beginning the cycle of inbound marketing from visitors toward promoters.
Marketing can use or create a community to persuade others to trust them. If there are many “likes,” “shares,” and/or “views” on a post, this is social proof of the company’s credibility. According to Shwom and Synder, credibility is “an audience’s belief that you have expertise and are trustworthy based on your knowledge, character, reputation, and behavior” (165). Social proof is a tier of credibility. People follow those who they respect, such as tangible characters, family members, friends, neighbors, etc. So, it’s helpful for consumers to see those respected people portrayed in marketing attempts. In traditional advertisements, testimonials with names or recommendations from trusted figures, such as doctors, satisfied this need for social proof of a company’s credibility.
An example of this community for social proof would be the online clothing company, ModCloth’s post on Facebook on August 31st of two cats in ModCloth shipping boxes. In the post, the company linked to the instagram account who had originally posted the photo. This shows both social proof of the company’s credibility and evidence that HubSpot’s theory on the inbound marketing cycle is accurate. The customer in that moment became the promoter and the company awarded them for it by posting on the main Facebook page.
This prompted others to upload photos of their own pets in ModCloth boxes, creating a community of animal lovers and ModCloth consumers. This post, like the “Dear Kitten” videos, utilized the “cute science” of kittens in order to draw in more Facebook users and the company’s already-satisfied customers proves the company’s credibility through the ever-present community and social proof.
However, if an advertisement is not done right (not as convincing, lacks the social proof aspect, etc.) netizens, or internet users, might not respond to advertisements as well. It’s always important to double check your wording, spelling, etc. in a post; otherwise, netizens will could counterattack the marketing attempt. These advertisements are definitely negative advertisements, or ads that do not work as well. For example, in 2013, PepsiCo launched an ad depicting a can of Pepsi soda wearing a cape similar to the Coca Cola logo with the tagline, “We wish you a scary Halloween!” However, the message was fairly ambiguous and some viewer found it humorous, because many thought, as Food Dive says, “Hey! Pepsi wants to be Coke!” (Riddell 2013). Afterwards, an unaffiliated consumer posted an edit of the ad with a different tagline reading, “Everybody wants to be a hero!” In this way, the competitor’s mistake both benefited Coca Cola and transformed one of their customers into a promoter. However, this was a bad blow to PepsiCo, because their ad was misconstrued and thus changed in a negative way for them.
While social media can be enormously helpful for a company’s growth if used correctly and effectively, it can also prove to be detrimental to a business’s future. However, the best maneuver seems to be content/inbound marketing. This form entices the viewer into seeing the company’s page or message, at the least. This starts a convincingly effective flow of evolution for the consumer from stranger to eventual customer and finally promoter his or herself for said company. Many choose this path of promotion without pay because the internet offers a fascinating bright light of fleeting fame. For the ModCloth user on Instagram with her cats in the boxes, having her photo shared on the company’s website gives her and her cats a feeling of popularity and momentary fame. This was enough incentive for the other consumers to promote using their own pets. In order to be successful on this relatively new online frontier, trust the customers to promote. Set them on a path toward trusting your business, loving your business, and finally wanting to promote for your business online. In this way, your business’s marketing will almost move on its own.