For those of you that haven’t read up on propaganda and persuasion techniques, you still probably won’t be too surprised to know that leaders, corporations, and all manner of people try to exert control. This usually isn’t done by direct threat or force, but by persuasion. Advertising, to some extent, can be propaganda. Networks of influencers are the modern machine that keep people scrolling. There are innumerable ways that forces we don’t even think about are trying to get in our heads. I confess that I, too, use some of the techniques I’m about to talk about. But that’s the point, if the consumer is aware, then they can make better choices. I am going to be stepping up my media game this year. You’ve all got to be ready.
Types of Propaganda:
As humans we generally have a desire or drive to fit in. We’re interested in what’s trending for these reasons. When someone is trying to convince you that everyone else is doing it, they might be propagandizing you. In court reporting this is fairly common, software vendors will try to convince you to get on the new thing because everyone is getting on the new thing, but really they just need you buying equipment to feed the economic engines.
Card Stacking Propaganda.
This is about mentioning the positives without the negatives. Stacking all those positive cards on top of each other so that you don’t look at the negatives underneath. To be fair, this is actually a presentation technique and life tip, and I use it often, so I can’t knock it.
Plain Folk Propaganda.
This form of propaganda deals with displaying regular, relatable people and faces in advertising. It can kind of tie into the idea that “normal people” use a product or service being pitched.
This is about getting popular or famous people to pitch a product or service and is viewed as the opposite of plain folk propaganda. This tries to display people you look up to using a product or service so that you use it too.
Glittering Generality Propaganda.
This is when they use corporate speak that doesn’t really mean anything. Things like “we’ll be there for you” or “on your side.” Things that make you feel good, but don’t really convey a message or promise.
Name Calling Propaganda.
This is pretty rare in the corporate world, which is why I use it. This is exactly what it sounds like. Characterizing people. Calling people names. A fraud, a fake, a liar. It’s nasty stuff. I think my first use of this was when I called Frank N Sense a monster. Still kind of a monster. They posted that the NCRA board should resign. I honestly can’t agree. The NCRA board has the profession’s best interests at heart. Everybody has to follow through with what they know and believe in their hearts. It’s going to be just a little different for each of us. But I think they’re doing a damn good job this year and last. But anyway, name calling, yeah.
This is when the propagandist uses something they believe will resonate with you in their messaging. Things like using a person’s religion to sell them things, or as I’ve said from our field, the “democratization of technology.” Most people like democracy, right? Transfer propaganda! If they’re using a vague concept related to something you love, it might be a flag.
Ad Nauseam Propaganda.
This is about messaging. Constant messaging so that you remember the brand. When I’m feeling healthy, I’m a little guilty of this, because I can write a lot more.
Stereotyping & Appeal to Prejudice Propaganda.
This is a big one. Pretty much every major player on the field is using this one against court reporters right now. We all have certain beliefs about digital reporters. We saw it when Verbit called them low skill. We see it when it’s used as a motivator to get people engaging with associations. We see corporations using it to eradicate us, pretending we’re obsolete because that’s our stereotype. The bottom line is that these players understand you. They understand how you think and what you like and don’t like. They understand how you feel about yourself. They’re going to be thinking about how to extract more money from you using that information. This was also effectively used to divide reporters, because for the last decade we were all on this “realtime is the future, everyone must tech up” drive, getting down on people who didn’t play the tech consumer game, and then when everybody sold enough equipment and training there, they packed up and went digital. This is why I have identified group think as dangerous to the profession. If they know us too well, they can manipulate more dollars out of us without giving us enough benefit.
Appeal to Fear Propaganda.
This is about using fear to get people to do things. It can be a product meant to alleviate a fear built up through advertising or it can be, in my opinion, putting you in a position of fear. On the topic of fear build up through advertising, Stenograph did this when it did its keyless drive. Gotta go keyless! Gotta buy the next thing! Gotta buy the new machine! We can all respect making money, but at a certain point, it’s just unnecessary oversaturation of the market. In terms of putting you in a position of fear, companies are doing it right now every day. They’re showing that they’re resolved to expand and switch to digital. They’re pressuring reporters to go digital, and conveniently buy their training and equipment. I think I’ve said this before, but if someone is scaring you, you might be getting propagandized.
Now You Know
When you start looking for these things, you will find them. We will all, one time or another, fall victim to propaganda. Sometimes it’s for a cause we really believe in. Sometimes it’s something we don’t really need in our lives. Sometimes it is the more comforting thing to allow ourselves to be propagandized.
Now, I should clarify, when I use these techniques, I do so for advancing truth and knowledge. All I have documented has been my honest perspective and recording. But in the end, people read and donate because it’s interesting, not because it’s honest. So if you catch me using some media tricks, it’s about keeping it interesting.
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