The issue of audience appeal to advertisements, memos, letters and other communication materials is pertinent in harnessing the will and trust in customers or employees. This therefore means that commercials must be written in a fine-tuned reader’s perspective (reader based writing) rather than a writer-based writing. Reader-based writing, unlike the writer-based writing is geared towards creating a shared context with the reader. It begins with a structure which is reader issue centered, manipulates the information of the audience, and links a relationship of facts. On the other hand, writer-based writing is normal writing which reflects a writer’s narrative thoughts, conceptions or ideas. There are no causal relationships and dissociation of conceptual facts is reminiscent of the writing. The audience is not easily factored in here, little information or concern of the consumer’s needs is followed. Linda Flower proposes four elements of reader based writing, i.e. shared goal, reader based organization, reader cues and persuasive argument. These will form the backbone of analysis of Coca-Cola in-house meeting newsletters, the 1973 “Coke Adds Life’’ advert and IATA International Cargo Training Program newsletter.
This memo tries to evaluate the effectiveness of using the four elements suggested by Linda Flower in her essay on reader based writing. The development of this essay evaluates whether the companies in question employ the reader based techniques in their daily communication. The Coca Cola Company has over time manifested a good understanding of this fact. It therefore poses as a good example of an audience minded writing in its various communications. The Linda model develops from a writer-reader shared goal, and develops into a complex web of well thought considerations.
The author of the commercials should always try to harness the will and trust of the audience by establishing a space of shared goals. Reader’s attention is grasped by things or options that they think can be beneficial to them. The writer achieves this by asking himself or herself some questions such as:
What is the value of indulging in this type of product or service to the reader?
Will the reader find any reason for believing in the product?
What will be their reactions towards this?
What are the needs of the reader that needs to be met?
Aimed with such information therefore the writer can write an article with a bias of the reader in mind. When one asks himself or herself these questions, they are able to put down a highly audience grasping article, memo, or advert. A thorough scrutiny into these evaluation samples reveals striking comparisons and contrasts of the Linda model as advanced in the essay. The Coca Cola advertisement which featured in US in the 1973 for the first time was thoroughly researched before its inception-a fact that illustrates the pertinence and importance of determining the audience’s views when writing to capture their attention. The advert grasped the audience with its simple wording (Coke Adds Life).The picture that accompanied the wording was also a gluing factor. The people could easily draw links with the advert because it touched their lives, as in the part of taking Coke with other meals, snacks remained an appealing factor to the population.
Having realized the importance of researching the audience’s reaction and view of their products, The Coca Cola Company embarked on a vigorous research in the countries which observed the holy Ramadan month. Subsequently the research was centered in Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Initially the researchers concentrated on the perceptions, similarities and dissimilarities of the countries observance of Ramadan. The research found that peace, love, charity and fast were common. It thus developed a commercial which was capturing the researches finding. This was "Always in good spirit. Always Coca-Cola'' and (in Bahasa Malaysia, "Dengan Tulus Iklas. Pastinya Coca-Cola"), (McCann-Erickson 1998) .The Company has tremendously grown and won the audience’s trust by their products, something which confirms Linda’s perception of the reader based structure in communicating to our audience.
However the IATA Training Program newsletter lacked the sense of shared goals. It simply stated its objectives, goals and services being offered. For instance one phrase reads as “we offer Cargo introductory, Cargo ratingjoin IATA through authorized Training Center (ATC) near you. ‘In this address line, the author does not pay attention to the audience’s needs. The sentence is structured I a manner that only seems to cast the services of the company rather than incorporate the desires, worries and expectations of the reader. The writer ought to have imagination of the audience in mind, infuse the organization’s objectives with the expectations, needs and worries of the reader in order to achieve an attention seeker advert. Just as Linda Flower proposes, unless the article establishes a notion of a shared goal the reader may be bullied to read the memo(s).Linda further proposes an understanding of the reader’s interpretive faculties. With this in mind, the writer provides an easy demystified approach, leading us to the second element.
Reader Based Organization
This element as proposed by the essayist under discussion is critical in ensuring an enhanced conception of messages. Writing of business letters, memos, adverts or any literature should put into consideration the convenience of the reader to conceptualize the information being communicated. The three samples reports under scrutiny have each in their capacity tried to incorporate this element. The IATA Training Program newsletter has incorporated some of the features which make it more convenient for the reader. For instance the vocabulary used in expressing the services, products and general language command is friendly to an average reader. One does not need to be highly fluent in the English language to grasp the content. It flows with ease. The syntactic organization of the language of expression is easy and logically organized. A reader easily follows along without straining to get the message. While that is so, the in-house letter in the Coca Cola Company had some flaws if viewed from Linda’s perspective. It is more writer based, with little taints of reader based structure.
The letter expresses the Director’s command to the employees who are to follow guidelines issued. The letter begins with an acknowledgement of the workers efforts at the company, but immediately diverts into a commanding overtone. It reads “while the company highly regards the services and efforts you make in fulfilling its objectives, we must still be vigilant to avoid recklessness in our responsibilities. It is in this bid that I ask all employees to conform to the rules of the company and cease from actions that’’.The “I ask all” phrase in the director’s address is self biting. Employees would tend to view such reference as authoritative and swerve off the mission of the company. This writing therefore does not draw links to the reader. Perhaps an omission of the phrase and change to “we ask allor the company asks all” would do if reader based structural element is to be followed.
Just as Linda Flower postulates that reader based writing offers the reader with cues that act as traffic signs to the reader to make the flow more fluent and coherent, any writing of a piece of art must employ these styles for comprehensive understanding. Reader based cue range from one form to another. The most common ones are: use of appealing topics, headlines, titles, headings, paginations, graphs, bolding, italics, charts, summaries and many more (Cheryl, 1986).
Cues assist the reader to decipher what is gleaned from the articles. They make direct reference to the article easier than when fumbling through a whole lot of jumbled up piece of writing. The sample articles under scrutiny have exhibited the use of reader based cues, with IATA program manifesting a good portrayal of its employability. There is highlighting, which is embossed and indented to give that standing outlook (Linda, 1979). A photograph accompanies the wording. The company’s logo stands at the top and the phrases used are easy to follow up, with short sentences, bolded message at the base of the title. There is maximum use of bolding, white space, subtitling, bulleting and summative writing. The Coca Cola Company advert also employs most of these styles in ensuring that the reader has an easy time in drawing linkages to the articles. They have used photographs and a highly summarized wording “clincher” which is very easy to grasp and hard to forget. Obvious reader based cues should be used in order to achieve the best level of grasp from the audience in question.
This is the last element as advanced by Linda Flower’s essay. This element states that the writing should be directed towards convincing the reader of the goodness or importance of a particular product that is being offered by the company (Linda, 1979). In this part the writer tries to win the reader over to his side. The reader’s ego is compelled and fed. It includes inflating their ego and capping their reaction into a positive response to the message passed across. The writer arrests their imagination with simple and clearly outlined words. These words often promise a solution to the reader’s problems or pose a likely benefit to the listener. The three articles discussed above show that the companies involved tried to persuade the readers to accept their products. The extent to which a company compelled its customers or employees to view their products with an angled view determined the extent to which its messages were conceptualized. The Coca Cola Company won the largest audience because the photographs that accompanied the advertisement were enticing, convincing and tied to the reader’s needs. It was simply persuasive in its expression.
The letter to the employees however failed to get the attention of the audience because it was viewed to be in personal command of the other junior employees. The staff felt like they were not part of the Company’s treasured employees; those in the top management. Therefore they felt bulldozed leading to a reluctance mood among them. Employees feel motivated when they are treated with respect and accorded with impartiality in the overall running of the organization (Elbow, 1987). The IATA Training Program newsletter however tried to achieve successful persuasion of its customers. Its employability of various styles in writing saw it appealingly capture the reader’s attention hence a better reception of the message.
The applicability of Linda Flower’s model of reader based writing is viable and an integral concept in writers who want to win the audience’s trust and will to adopt their products or follow guidelines as in the case of the in-house letter discussed above. The use of the four elements suggested by Linda Flowers has proven to be effective in winning the confidence of the reader. Using goal shared approach, reader based organization, cues and persuasive argument ensures that the messages passed are not only understood well, but recur in the minds of the audience. The three pieces of evaluation from the Coca Cola Company and IATA Training Program, have portrayed some instances of Linda Flowers four elements of reader based writing, but do not exhaustively use them. The Company and Organization’s writers need to reappraise their writing to suit the audience’s needs. Prior understanding of the reader’s background, knowledge, and competence is the hallmark in tuning an audience based writing.
Cheryl, A. (1986). Reader Based Perspectives in Composition Instruction. Journal on Rhetoric Review. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. (Vol. 5), pp. 84-89 retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/466022
Linda, F. (1979).Writer-Based Prose: A Cognitive Basis for Problems in Writing. Washington. National Council of Teachers of English .Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/376357
Elbow, P. (1987).Closing My Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience. College English 49.1: 50-69. JSTOR.National Council of Teachers of English. Web. 21 Jan 2012. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/377789>