03 November 2013
In the article “Using Communication Theory for Health: Practical Guidance on Message Design and Strategy”, Dr. Timothy Edgar and Dr. Julie Volkman discuss three communication theories and how they have been used to effect change in public awareness of health issues. While the article discusses the use of communication theory in changing public health behaviors, these three theories can be directly applied in marketing strategies of for-profit companies.
The first theory presented was Activation Model. This model states that audiences will seek to satisfy their need for stimulation and information when attending to a message, before they seek to fulfill their need for information alone. The article states that this method is best suited for targeting audiences that are high sensation seekers, usually a younger high school and college age demographic. From a ...view middle of the document...
The next communication theory presented was the Extended Parallel Process Model. This model states that audiences will evaluate a message based on a threat appraisal, how severe are the perceived consequences and the likelihood they will occur to them are. If these are perceived as high and likely respectively, the audience transitions to the efficacy appraisal of the message. Can the individual perform the task and will it actually benefit them. This type of communication method can be useful in the sporting goods market. Here, brands use professional athletes to endorse products with the implication to the audience that if they purchase the items being advertised they will be both “cooler” and perform better athletically and if they don’t then they will be lagging behind those who do in terms of performance and the “cool factor”.
Louis Foust (Communication Theories)
The last theory discussed is Fisher’s Narrative Theory, in which a story is used to relate a message or product with a target audience. As with the previous two models discussed this is another method that has direct application in marketing for for-profit businesses. This method of communication is effective for those individuals not drawn to ads with loud music, bright lights or a lot of action in the background. This method is best suited towards a more mature audience, usually those with greater spending power than the audience best suited towards Activation Model. The more mature audience will relate better to a story telling approach as they will be able to correlate it with their respective lives. This method is often used to advertise medications such as Cialis where a narrator tells a story being depicted in the ad, with the message that the product will enhance the target audience’s quality of life.
While the assigned reading discussed communication theory in relation to health promotion, these theories are clearly applicable to a wide variety of businesses. After all, marketing is communicating a message to a target audience. These three communication theories provide a method to more effectively target different population segments.