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Journalism 2200 - Audiences and Persuasion: Where to start

Where to start your research

Design your research strategies to help you:

  • Discover what is currently known about the issue that needs promoting
    • Is it a problem that needs to be solved?
    • Is it an idea or strategy that needs to be adopted?
    • Is it a product that you want people to purchase?
  • Find out about the audience(s) that you plan to target with your message (demographics, psychographics)
  • Recognize current barriers to successfully promoting your product or idea
  • Identify any competition
  • Learn about persuasive communication strategies and how to employ them.
  • Learn about strategies that have already been employed to persuade people to adopt the strategy or purchase your product

If you have questions, contact Vera Elwood, Head, Journalism Library, if you have any questions.

What do we know about the idea or product that you want to promote?

Look for recent primary research (new research findings in scholarly journals) and secondary research (journals with literature reviews) about your idea/product.  Trade publications may also be appropriate depending on the idea/product you wish to promote.

  • Use the Discover at MU link below to search all multi-disciplinary content owned or subscribed by the University of Missouri Libraries.  Filter by "academic peer reviewed" to focus your research on scholarly sources and date to make sure the resources are the most recent since information on this topic is still evolving.

  • Create a list of concepts to use as search terms ; combine concepts using Boolean logic: 
    • Concept #1 OR Concept #2 (using OR will allow you to search for both terms)
    • Put phrases in quotation - "concept #1 phrase" - to search for phrases
    • Truncation of terms (using * at the end of the word) like concept* will find concept, concepts, conception, etc.
    • Combine terms using AND to find articles with more than one concept
    • Use parentheses to combine concepts with AND, OR, NOT - (concept*OR intent*)
      • Example:  (concept* OR intent*) AND (strateg* OR plan) - will find articles about concepts and strategies
  • Use Google Scholar to conduct similar searches to expand your search strategy

Google Scholar Logo

  • Don't forget to use Google to find trade and organizational publications related to your search.  The caveat is to make sure you use credible sources. You can restrict your search to government publications and data by using site:gov in your search string. You might also try site:edu to limit to educational institutions. 
  • Google Dataset Search Google has a search tool that will look for datasets on your topic.

Find reliable research and surveys about your idea/product

In addition to scholarly research sources, to find the most current and reliable information and surveys about your idea/product, look to organizations with reputations for providing evidence-based and reliable information.

  • Primary research methods can reveal views and attitudes (focus groups, surveys)
  • Secondary research methods reveals information that has already been published (scholarly and market research databases, polls, data)
  • Use quantitative research to tell you what is happening (analytics)
  • Use qualitative research to tell you why something is happening and help you define problems (customer opinions, values, beliefs)

Audiences and Channels

You will need to identify the stakeholders, audience(s) or publics that you wish to persuade.

  • Who are the stakeholders?  Who is your audience? 
    • What role do they play? 
    • Where are they?
    • What relationship do you have with them? 
    • Can you categorize them by who is most influential? 
      • Who needs to be kept satisfied?
      • Who do you provide information to but not overload?
      • Who is a high priority?
      • Who can act as an advocate?
    • What attitudes or beliefs do they hold?
    • What media channels do they use?
    • What communication strategies would work best with them?

Barriers to successfully promoting your idea/product

What are the barriers that might prevent people from receiving your message about accepting your idea or purchasing your product?  Search Discover &MU and Google Scholar for articles about these barriers.

Search Example:  (concept #1 OR concept#2) AND (hesitant* OR fear OR barrier) 


Current promotion strategies for ideas or products much like yours

Suggestions for promoting your idea/product:

Search Discover &MU and Google Scholar for the latest promotional strategies on similar ideas/products. Filter by date.

  • Search Example: (concept #1 OR concept# 2 ) AND (strateg* OR plan) AND promotion
  • Search Example: (concept #1 OR concept# 2 )  AND "promotion strategy"


Current Scenario (Spring 2022)

Your task:  To bring awareness to and change the behavior of distracted drivers.

  • What do you know about effects of "distracted driving?"
    • What are some of the causes of distracted driving?
    • What demographic is most distracted while driving?
    • Where can you find research about distracted driving?
    • How can you structure your search?
  • How do you conduct research to answer your questions?
    • Create a list of concept terms based on your task. Use synonyms to capture more information.
      • Concept #1 - "distracted driving" 
      • Concept #2 - "crash risk"
      • Concept #3 - performance OR operation OR execution
      • Concept #4 - degrade OR impair OR worsen
      • Concept #5 - demographic
        • Create a search string using one or more concept terms. 
          • Use OR connectors between concept synonyms to broaden the search
          • Use AND connectors between concepts to narrow the search
          • Use quotation marks "" to indicate phrases
          • Use parentheses () to keep connected concepts together
        • Try these search strings:
          • "distracted driving" AND demographic
    • Try searching Discover@MU (searches MU subscribed articles, books, & more!)
      • Search Result Example:  Choudhary, P., Pawar, N. M., Velaga, N. R., & Pawar, D. S. (2020). Overall performance impairment and crash risk due to distracted driving: A comprehensive analysis using structural equation modelling. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour74, 120–138.
    • Also search Google Scholar for research that might not be owned by MU Libraries.
      • Search Result Example: Stavrinos, D., McManus, B., & Beck, H. (2020). Demographic, driving experience, and psychosocial predictors of adolescent distracted driving beliefs. Accident Analysis and Prevention144.
    • Use specialized database such as Mintel to find information about a demographic category and WARC to find case studies, articles and research on advertising campaigns and topics.
  • Who is your audience? 
  • What strategies have been aimed at preventing distracted driving?