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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?
  • Recognize current barriers to successfully promoting your product or idea
  • Identify the competition
  • Learn about strategies that have already been employed to persuade people to adopt the strategy or purchase your product
  • Find out about the audience(s) that you plan to target with your message (demographics, psychographics)
  • Learn about persuasive communication strategies and how to employ them.

Contact:  Dorothy Carner, Journalism Librarian, 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


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"

Fall 2021 Scenario

The Task: You have been asked by the Missouri Farm Bureau to develop a recommendation on a messaging strategy that can persuade farmers to convert some of their acreage to renewable energy (specifically solar and/or wind).

  • What do you know about the strategy that you have been asked to promote? 
    • Is there research about farmers using part of their land to produce renewable energy? Where should you look? How will you structure your search?
    • To prepare for your research:
      • Create a list of concepts based on  your task. 
        • Concept #1 - farm*
        • Concept #2 -"messaging strategy" OR "communication strategy" 
        • Concept #3 - incentivize OR motivate OR convince OR persuade OR adopt OR accept
        • Concept #4 - barriers OR "obstacles to implementation"
        • Concept #5 - convert OR sequester
        • Concept #6 - "agricultural land use" 
        • Concept #7 - "renewable energy" OR "solar energy" OR agrivoltaic OR agriphotovoltaic OR "wind energy" 
      • Create a search string using one or more concept terms.  OR connectors expand the search; AND connectors narrow it.
      • Try searching: 

         which searches all MU licensed databases and Google Scholar to gather information about your research topic. Look for both scholarly and trade articles. See Examples at the bottom of this box.
      • For specialized agricultural research, try searching Agricola, (a database produced by the U.S. National Agricultural Library and provides access to worldwide periodical literature and USDA publications). Specialized, subject-specific databases provide indexes and thesauri form more precise searching.
      • Don't forget to simply search for some of these concepts on Google.  You can find blogs, trade publications, organizations and associations using a Google search.  However, you have to vet the information by making sure the source and information is reliable.
  • Who are the stakeholders? Who is your audience? 
  • What are some of the trends in agriculture and renewable energy?  USDA RENEWABLE ENERGY TRENDS, OPTIONS, AND POTENTIALS FOR AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, AND RURAL AMERICA
  • What incentives might persuade farmers to use some of their land for renewable energy?  
  • What promotional messaging strategies have worked in the past with farmers?