Communication field guide: why communicate?
We’re not just selling ‘things’, as in products or commodities like toothpaste, cars, computers, or jewellery. We could also be selling services or amenities, like selling hotel rooms to families, selling cleaning services to building managers, selling internet security solutions to multinational corporations, or selling the use of a ride sharing app to everyday consumers.
We could also be selling ideas, like encouraging people to switch to a vegan diet, convincing people of the importance of thorough hand washing to prevent the transmission of diseases, or persuading someone to put their seatbelt on. And yes, even something that’s required by the law, like putting your seatbelt on, needs to be ‘sold’ because we know that individuals don’t follow the letter of the law all the time.
So what’s the process or mechanism of this ‘selling’? Essentially, it’s about persuading someone to do something. When we talk about this process of persuasion in a commercial context, we may use certain terms such as promoting, marketing, advertising, sales, etc. When we talk about this process of persuasion in a political or social context, we may use other terms such as influence, propaganda, or rhetoric.
Under the surface, the process of persuasion is pretty similar in most situations: we’re trying to get someone to do or think something. That ‘something’ we want them to do or think could be liking an Instagram post, feeling a sense of pride in a national sports team, cutting down the amount of sugar they put in their coffee, buying a pair of shoes, remaining in a seat and listening to a teacher, or paying their taxes.
We use communication in this process of persuasion. It could be a glance or a gesture. It could be a symbol. It could be a video with nobody saying anything: just visuals and music. It could be a poster, an infographic, a photograph, a blog post, an email. In this series, going to break down the way in which communication works on a few levels: how it works as an industry, how it works in society, and how it works in the actual creation and consumption of a piece of communication.