Persuasion Campaign for Online Education

The growth in economy of the United States has coincided with an increase in demand for education. Although some sectors of economy have been affected by recession and harsh economic times, education continues to witness unprecedented growth. However, learning opportunities of American students have historically been shown to be shaped by factors beyond their control. (Lips, 2010) has identified the factors that influence education of American students as geography, finance and access to quality education. Online education provides an alternative source of instruction helping to break such barriers and increasing access to education among the American students.

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The Central Message of the Campaign

Spend Less Money, Less Time In Class, and Learn More Through Online Education!!

            In making an advertisement campaign, there is need for a slogan or central message. The message must be short, captivates and is easy to remember. The central message that was chosen for the online education campaign is “Spend Less Money, Less Time In Class, And Learn More Through Online Education!!. The slogan is short and captures the main theme of the campaign, that is, online education. In addition, the use of the words “less money, less time and learn more” captivates the audience since it shows that the campaign will address the major factors that hinder access to education.

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            As outlined in (Lips, 2010) geography, finance and accessibility of quality education are some of the barriers towards education among the students in America. The creation of a slogan that captures these factors will be critical in attracting attention of the target audience of the campaign. Since quality education is associated with high costs, the target audience will be eager to know how one can learn more with less money, less time through online education.

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The Target Audience for the Campaign

            According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of students graduating with high school diploma has risen than the previous years (U.S. Department of Education, 2017).  The authors point that in 2012-14, a record 84% of high school students graduated in the United States. This represents a huge number, yet as the college education continues to be more expensive with other factors such as accessibility to quality education and geography still in play, this segment of the population remains of great significance to the national economy. The enrollment for degree courses continue to drop in the country, which is worrying to the country’s future economic prospects. It is for these reasons that the campaign seeks to target secondary school graduates in the online education advertisement.

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            In addition, a majority of the high school graduates are in a position to make their own choices regarding the institutions to pursue their higher education. However, they need to learn about the various college and learning options that are available, the cost variables and access to quality education. Also, online learning has major drawbacks, which includes discipline and retention among the learners. (Allen, & Seaman, 2011) identified discipline as the most critical component for success of online education. Online earning involves the use of web resources with minimal class attendance. Having huge discipline is important for retention in online learning. Individuals in online learning learn with less contact and supervision from teachers, which exposes students to likelihood of indiscipline (Allen, & Seaman, 2014). The choice of high school graduates is important since the graduates have enough discipline that will ensure the success of their studies.

The Medium for Promoting the Campaign

            Advertisement has been considered a form of persuasion that attempts to influence and win audience. According to (Cobley & Schulz, 2013) advertisement encompass persuasion, which should not be coercive, but should be interpersonal rather than intra-personal and must me symbolic with resulting effects. However, these are possible through an establishment of contact with the target group of audiences. The contact should enhance the interaction that will facilitate effective persuasion.

            A number of advertising strategies are available for advertisement campaigns. They include face-to-face communication, use of billboards, and use of radio, social media, television, local newspapers and school visits. These strategies have individual advantages and drawbacks. The online education campaign shall adopt the use of television as the medium to promote the campaign. The rationale on the choice is that persuasion being a form of communication needs some form of visual interaction. Although face-to-face communication offers face-to-face interaction, television is relatively cheap and offers the opportunity to reach far and wide, including areas that may be difficult to access owing to geography. Moreover, the target audience consists of categories of students whose interests include watching, which can be an appealing strategy to use. It also offers an opportunity of reaching the parents of high school graduates who can be persuaded to advice their students to enroll in higher education online learning.

The Intended Persuasion Outcome

            The persuasion theory is underpinned in the development of the understanding of the effects of advertising (Magee, 2014). When the audiences are exposed to an advertisement, they can develop positive or negative reactions. The reaction or effects of the message on the audience can be measured using a number of variables. (Cobley & Schulz, 2013) identifies the variables as including the extent of exposure, the degree of interest and the extent to which the audiences remember the message. In advertisement for online campaign, the persuasion will be directed in order to achieve a number of outcomes. The following are the intended persuasion outcomes of the online education campaign.

  • Increase the audience interest towards online education
  • Create a positive perception amongst the audience towards online education
  • Create a lasting positive impression among the audience regarding the online education campaign.

Why the Online Education Campaign Will be Effective

            The success of online education campaign hinges on the effectiveness of persuasion employed in the advertisement message. Persuasion remains a critical concept, which has been adopted widely by scholars and practitioners in communication and in field, especially in advertisement. Owing to the great significance of the concept in academic and practical level, it has attracted numerous definitions. The concept has been defined by (Cobley & Schulz, 2013, p. 273) as a form of communication, whose purpose is to shape, reinforce or alter responses of another/others. In the field of advertising, the author points that the theory of persuasion has the ultimate aim of alteration of the perception of people through message with the aim of influencing them to make decisions that they would otherwise have not had they not been exposed to the advertising message. As a tool of persuasion, advertising campaigns seeks to change, shape or create the behaviors and attitudes of the target audience.

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Persuasion Theories

            The persuasion theories in advertising campaign consist of the theoretical knowledge, the perspectives that concern the relationship between the advertising variables, the methods and modes. According to (McDonough & Egolf, 2015) persuasion theories are important at the practical levels, helping in decision making about the media plans, creative message strategies and in better understanding of the all the phases and advertising aspects. In recognition of the important role that persuasion theories can have on advertising campaign, the online education persuasion campaign shall employ the following persuasion theories.

  • Message learning theory
  • The congruity theory
  • Cognitive dissonance theory
  • Self-persuasion theory

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Message Learning Theory

The practical guidelines that have been developed for use in the design of advertising strategies are entrenched in the message learning theory. According to (McDonough & Egolf, 2015), message learning theory guidelines suggest that repeating message enhances learning, while commercials that employ users last long than those that use straight foreword claims. The authors also assert that the message learning theory makes enables the analysis of message order, with the aim of identifying where best to place strong arguments.

The message learning theory will be employed extensively in the online education campaign. Message learning theory points that the medium characteristics influence the effectiveness of persuasion in any advertisement campaign, with radio considered poor. The choice of television as medium hinges on the ability of the campaign to offer greater persuasion to the target audience through delivery of the message from the source. The campaign would employ an expert in online education to deliver the campaign message. The rationale is that having an expert deliver the campaign message would positively alter the perception of the target audience. According to (McDonough & Egolf, 2015) the degree to which the target audiences learn and retain the message depends on determines the extent of persuasion. The use of expert increases audience learning, thus positively influencing the persuasion effectiveness.

The Congruity Theory

            Developed in 1955 by Osgood and Tannenbaum, congruity theory employs the concept of cognitive balance in persuasive communication (Petty, Ostrom & Brock, 2014, p. 146; Shaver, 2015). According to the authors, the theory provides a prediction about the direction and magnitude of attitude change that will occur during persuasive communication. The theory posits that when a source and attitude link together, there arise pressures towards attitudinal congruence. For example if a source (speaker) expresses favorable attitude towards a particular topic or issue, the congruence form audience occurs if the target audience hold the same attitude towards the topic under consideration. Sources in congruity theory include commentators, newspapers, professional experts, political analysts and so on.

            The online education campaign will employ congruity theory of persuasion in the persuasion of the target audience and thus attempt to influence them into accepting the advertisement message. In the campaign, the source as outlined will be an expert in the field of online education, with proven experience and having practiced in the field as a consultant for time that is long enough. It is hoped that through the wealth of experience of the expert, the target audience will attain attitudinal congruence. For example, through the expression of favorable attitude (associative bond) on the topic (speaker endorsing online education by citing it being affordable and effective) the target audience can hold same attitude towards the message and the subject and thus reaching congruence.

The Cognitive dissonance theory

            Developed by Leon Festinger, the cognitive dissonance theory is the most known theory which is regarded as being the most important (Sanderson, 2009, p. 196). According to the author, the cognitive dissonance theory posits that when individuals hold two conflicting beliefs or cognitions, or engages in behaviors that are in conflict with their cognition, they experience an unpleasant psychological arousal (dissonance). The theory is important in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of the audiences.

            The cognitive dissonance theory will be employed to influence the attitudes of the target audience by creating unpleasant psychological states that will eventually alter them into embracing the concept of online education. Many of the American parents/students believe that a child can only learn through the traditional methods of teachers instructing students in class. However, through the work of the campaign expert, the long held lack of belief towards the use of web sources will be discussed in detail. It is believed that the campaign will highlight the lack of enough knowledge while actually showing that contrary to the general believes, online education is associated to improved levels of outcomes relative to the traditional methods. The new information is expected to create contrary cognitions among the target audience. These clashing cognitions will prompt the target audience reactions and thus change of their behaviors into adopting online education.

Self-persuasion theory

The self-persuasion theory contrasts the message learning theory in that is asserts the effectiveness of an advertisement campaign can better be understood through the examination of how the target audience persuade themselves upon receiving the message (McDonough & Egolf, 2015, p. 1212). According to the authors, learning through message is not the only method that audience can get persuaded. The mere presence of arguments does not mean the target audience will learn and remember, but the audiences often become involved with the advertisement message and they try to elaborate on the message.

When target audiences are exposed to the message from the advertisement campaign, they get involved and try to elaborate on the advertiser’s message (McDonough & Egolf, 2015, p. 1213). They then assume an active role, try to establish the meaning thereby persuading themselves into bolstering, accepting, distorting, or rejecting the message contained in the advertisement.

The persuasion theory will be employed in the online education advertisement campaign. The advertisement message will be tailored so as to evoke issue-relevant thinking among the advertisement target audience. This can be captured through advertisement discussion that offers arguments which are relevant to the topic. Moreover, the information will be offered in a way that will be easy for the target audience to comprehend and process as this offer motivation for the target audience to follow central route in processing the online education advertisement campaign information. The persuasion campaign for online education depends on the message delivery, the type of message and the power of t

the speaker. This is an advertisement that targets to change the perception of high school graduates, with the goal of increasing their enrolment in online learning. An online advertisement campaign as a form of persuasion, must encapsulate all the elements and strategies outlined in the persuasion theories as taught in class.  However, it is believed that the online education advertisement campaign will be successful mainly because of the power of the speaker.

According to (Petty, Ostrom & Brock, 2014) the power of the source is the greatest element in which message recipient can be influenced. The source must be able to control the delivery of the rewards and punishments to the target audience. The source can induce compliance, making the audience to follow the position advocated for by the speaker. The use of the theories of the persuasion will provide a great impetus in the design of the campaign message and the choice of the speaker. The choice of the speaker will be made in a way that ensures they possess the skills and education that are respected in the field of online education. This will provide the necessary power over the target audience, thus helping to influence them into adopting the position that will be advocated during the delivery of online education advertisement campaign in the television.

            In as much as the power of the source is important, ensuring the speaker combines the persuasion theories as discussed in class and in the paper will be critical to the success of the campaign.  The theories will govern the nature of message, the choice of words, the mode of delivery and the medium of delivery. It is important to note that these theories will be combined to ensure that a comprehensive online education campaign programme is developed. It is believed that with these factors included in the paper, the online education advertisement campaign will be successful.

Conclusion

The number of high school students who graduate annually with high school diploma in the United States has been on the rise in the past few years. However, the same is not true for the students who graduate with degree certificates from universities and colleges. This is attributed to factors such as geography, access to quality education and financial factors. The adoption of online learning is one form of educational instruction that can help to address the decreasing rates at which students graduate from degree programs. Through persuasion campaign, more students can be influenced to enroll for degree programs through online learning. An effective online campaign program that employs persuasion theories such as message learning, self persuasion, congruity and cognitive dissonance theories can help in shaping the perception and attitudes of the high school graduates to enroll for online learning.

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