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Article Purchase - Online Checkout. Issue Purchase - Online Checkout. People also read Article. Kevin Barge et al. Western Journal of Communication Volume 68, - Issue 3. Published online: 6 Jun Kimberly J. Published online: 4 Oct Published online: 23 Jul More Share Options. The video was produced with advisory input from marketing professionals as well as scientists, and evaluated using online Qualtrics survey software. The assessment and evaluation of the video was conducted using self-completion questionnaire surveys administered online [Bryman, ].

The survey design was based upon a review of existing literature [Foddy and Crundall, ; G. Norman, ; Robson, ; Robson and McCartan, ; Thomas, ], as well as advisory input from social science researchers.

Communication Theory

The survey intended to assess the effectiveness of our proposed SciCommercial storytelling format as a science communication tool, and its capacity to influence behavioural intentions such as sharing the video and visiting the related website. The survey contained a combination of mostly closed questions with some open-ended questions.

Five-point Likert scaling was used due to its power and simplicity of format [Robson, ]. Appropriate filter categories allowed respondents to opt out if they had no opinion or their position was neutral. The order of the sub-questions was randomized through the online survey software. People were invited to participate in the research using social media Facebook, Twitter. Initially Facebook friends were invited to participate in the research and asked to share the survey. In addition, the survey was promoted on relevant tourism, conservation and whale-related Facebook pages.

From these initial Facebook publications, the survey was shared and distributed widely in various whale, conservation and science communication forums. A total N of surveys were collected online. However, the number of total completions for individual questions varied. For the analysis of questions, descriptive analyses and cross-tabulation were used. At the heart of successful marketing communication strategies lie sticky successful ideas [Heath and Heath, ] that can be characterised as simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional stories, or SUCCES for short [Shimp and Andrews, ].

Based on an analysis of hundreds of contagious messages that got shared virally, Berger and Milkman [ ] identified six essential ingredients of contagious ideas or content: social currency how it makes people look to talk about products , triggers stimuli that prompt people to think about related things , emotion when we care, we share , public need to make products and ideas more public , practical value useful content , and stories narrative used to translate the idea; stories carry moral and lessons.

We appropriated these ingredients from marketing communication, in a somewhat modified form SUCCESS to use for science storytelling in short-format videos, which we term a SciCommercial format Table 1. Sticky memorable successful science ideas portrayed using this format should be understandable, memorable, and effective in changing thought or behaviour [Heath and Heath, ] by providing practical content, public visibility, social currency and emotion, leading to social diffusion. Effective pieces of communication keep things simple and clear [Lee and Kotler, ].

Message Production: Advances in Communication Theory

Simplicity is defined not in terms of dumbing down the science but instead refers to prioritization and finding the core of the idea. The core idea should be the lead for a story, or the hook, that draws people into the story. Succinct, compact ideas help people learn and remember a core message [Heath and Heath, ]. In the case of the whale watching example, the core idea is that whale watching can harm whales and it is, therefore, essential to respect their space so that the experience will be sustainable for both whales and watchers. Science content, at its heart, is based on uncovering and revealing the unknown.

It is founded on a process of discovery and revelation [Kelsey, ; Swaisgood and Sheppard, ], all of which are key elements of effective science storytelling. Lee and Kotler [ ] note that sometimes the very act of asking a question can be a force for driving a message of positive change. For example, it can be very effective to surprise audiences by starting with a question — such as, What is good whale watching? Effective communication concretizes messages to facilitate audience learning, as it is easier for people to remember and retrieve concrete versus abstract information [Shimp and Andrews, ].

Here, abstract language refers to intangible qualities, ideas and concepts things we know through our intellect while concrete language refers to tangible qualities or characteristics things we experience through our senses. Scientists often struggle with translating their abstract concepts into concrete descriptions that an audience can more readily understand, making this an important job for science communicators to do in their visual storytelling. Abstract phrases like sustainable whale watching, by comparison, are unlikely to evoke distinct and predictable images.

These word-generated pictures and visuals are better remembered than words alone because pictures are especially able to elicit mental images and be recalled [Shimp and Andrews, ]. Credibility is about how to make people believe the scientific ideas that are being communicated. Effective communication has to be believable, have a sense of authority, and provide information or support for why it should be accepted as a fact [Shimp and Andrews, ].

Scientists, in general, are regarded as trustworthy and valued experts due to their reputation for providing systematic, empirical research [Peters, ; Shapin, ]. The perception that a source is fair, unbiased and truthful contributes to the trustworthiness of information [Rieh, ]. The whale watching example includes a well-known whale researcher who is widely viewed as a trustworthy figure. Credibility is also influenced by likability , which in turn can be influenced by celebrity status and fame [Binet and Field, ; Shimp and Andrews, ].

The International Encyclopedia of Communication

Character identification through sympathetic characters is, therefore, crucial to increase narrative persuasion and should be used in video-based science communication initiatives. Hence, the scientist, operator, whale watchers as well as mother whale and whale calf used in our video were all chosen for their likeability on screen and ability to generate empathy with viewers. Credibility further relates to authenticity where the trustworthiness of a message can be enhanced by showing authentic human reactions, that is, capturing people in the act of being themselves [Voltz and Grobe, ].

For our whale watching example, we show authentic emotional responses of people watching whales. This approach has potential for the purposes of science communication as showing the authenticity of something will equate to its honesty, which is a crucial currency when it comes to the viral diffusion of content [Voltz and Grobe, ].

Marketing communication that uses emotional appeal is much more effective than rationally based models that rely on providing information alone [Binet and Field, ], which argues strongly for a more widespread adoption of emotion as a tool for science communication. An important element of storytelling for short-form video is the adoption of positive messages for science communication. Negative emotions, such as sadness, are unlikely to increase the virality of videos [Berger and Milkman, ].


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For the most effective form of science storytelling in videos, then, it is best to create content that evokes emotions such as hope and awe but to avoid negative emotions such as sadness or fear. For our whale watching example, while there is a need to communicate risk and threats, it is crucial to highlight solutions and messages of hope or else risk paralysing the audience [Joffe, ]. Science is at its core a discipline of discovery [Hanson, ].

In our whale watching exemplar, scientific studies have highlighted that whales exhibit behavioural changes in response to whale-watching boat traffic, and that whale watching can impact essential behaviours such as breeding, feeding or resting [Bejder et al. This can reduce fitness of whale populations [Wright, Soto et al.

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We do this in a positive way that brings together the various stakeholder perspectives scientists, whale watching operators, tourists , while emphasising their likability and compassion for the whales [Olson, ]. Humans are strongly pre-disposed for narratives and certain emotional structures that are triggered when we encounter stories, images and human interaction [Bondebjerg, ].

Classic storytelling typically involves a three-act structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end [McKee, ]. Most stories follow the simple idea of what happens next. Olson [ ] provides an alternative approach for thinking about story structure for science stories called ABT and, but, therefore. The Good Whale Watching video applied the principles of our short-form video, SciCommercial storytelling format in ways that are summarized in Table 2.

A keyframe analysis describes the filmmaking techniques and communication purpose of each shot used in the video. This type of analysis is useful for understanding the video production process [Zettl, ].


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Excerpts from a keyframe analysis undertaken of the Good Whale Watching video are outlined in Table 3 to illustrate how specific ingredients of the filmmaking process have been used to comply with the SUCCESS format for science storytelling in short videos. The top six countries represented were the United States Most of the participants were female After watching the video, respondents reported they were most likely to choose a tour operator that promotes responsible whale watching practices, with Just over two-thirds of survey participants Over two-thirds of those who watched the video Participants were given 14 different adjectives to describe the video and could choose to agree Yes , disagree No or be undecided.

The adjectives are ranked in Table 5 according to the level of agreement from respondents that they described the video. Notably, only 5. Survey participants were asked to write down what they liked most about the video to see whether they would, of their own volition, identify some of the SUCCESS communication elements applied as part of the video production process. A total of people responded to this question by listing one most-liked aspect of the video. The answers fall into seven broad categories Table 6 , with example verbatim quotes from participants. According to Nisbet and Scheufele [ , p.

Our results point to the potential of this approach: after watching the video, almost all of the respondents This highlights the potential of our proposed science communication video format to influence behavioural intentions and, therefore, its potential to impact human behaviour by communicating a simple and concrete message.

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With regard to this particular aspect of the SUCCESS model in action, we are unable to say what the intentions to choose a responsible whale watching operator would be for respondents who did not see the video. Nevertheless in another part of this study [Finkler, ], half of these same respondents formed a control group that were asked before viewing the video if they would choose a whale watching operation based upon how close it got to the whales, while the other half were asked the same question after seeing the video. After seeing the video, survey participants professed to be significantly less likely to choose a whale watch operator that would get them close to the whales compared those in the control group that had not seen the video [Finkler, ].

The vast majority of participants described the Good Whale Watching video as believable, real, informative, engaging, motivational, memorable, solution-focused, emotional and telling a story. It was able to leverage the power of narrative persuasion [Green, ; Hoeken and Sinkeldam, ] by using the concept of family a mother and calf and including information that people can relate to in their own lives feeding, breeding and sleeping. It is an example that emphasises the importance of utilising intrinsic values and universal framing in science storytelling, which allows audience members to see the relevance of stories to themselves [Crompton, ].

Our findings indicate that solution-focused emotional storytelling, as used here, can be perceived as real, believable, informative, engaging and — most encouragingly from the point of view of science communication — designed to effect change, motivational and empowering [Voltz and Grobe, ]. In our example, the science content was successfully packaged in a form that communicates the key science idea while not being heavy-handed with the science. Whereas only This is likely to be especially so if trying to: i get to a wide audience, and ii effect some behavioural change as a consequence of the communication.

Most viewers of our video said they were likely to tell someone else about the video, and share the video on social media: an important component for reaching audiences in a marketplace where there is a large amount of competition. This is why the science content when using the SciCommercial format is intentionally packaged non-scientifically : i. In contrast to user generated content though, our proposed format for short-form science videos utilizes structured narratives and storytelling to inform and elicit intentions for behaviour change in the audience through being also perceived as informative, real, solution-focused and motivational.

To be effective in communicating science in the online video realm, science communicators need to leverage the best of both worlds: combine i the viral attraction and social marketing that can be derived from mimicking what makes user generated content successful, with ii the motivational storytelling derived from the advertising industry for marketing products.

Even the most successful longish-form online video channel, TED talks, limits videos to no more than 18 minutes [Bradbury, ].