J500 Media and the Environment

Doing without reflecting is like eating without digesting by matthewj77

It’s a bit difficult to reflect on this project not knowing the outcome, but I’ll try.  I’m in the Labor group, and would use cooking terms to define how we’ve approached our audience – we’ve boiled it down like a reduction sauce, concentrating it to bring the flavors, or in our case areas of importance, to the forefront ,and at the same time, more palatable.  . 


Maybe the most interesting thing to me is the fact that I’ve found myself stereotyping on multiple occasions to understand my audience.  For example, I’ve used the word “townie” numerous times, and realize it has a negative connotation to it.  Sure, we interviewed members of the AFL-CIO and USW, as well as frontline workers in blue collar jobs in Kansas City to get to know them better, but personal experience and public perception has played a role and those past experiences are often grounded in negative terms.  But on the flip side of that coin I think we’ve all, as consumers and citizens, done the same thing with “environmentalists” and issues in that context, which is why it’s so important that we approach the communications aspect of these issues in new terms.


Marisa made an interesting comment the other night when we were discussing how our messages would be delivered to our audience – space and place.  As a society, we’re used to receiving messages from the news, advertisements, mailers etc.  We’re tired of being spoken at, and conversations are a way to be more successful in engaging people.  Spaces and places are seen as constructions designed to constrain and shape our lives – what I’m calling the Spurlock effect, immersing oneself in the life and culture of another to understand the issues that are important and perhaps even influence positive change.  This is especially true when speaking of the Labor audience, and I think the work we’ve done for CEP is not only useful, but actionable.


Matthew J


3 Comments so far
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I loved your reference to Morgan Spurlock during the presentation. He really puts himself in other people’s shoes and listens in a way that most of us don’t. (The coal episode you mentioned was one of the best examples.)

It seemed to me the labor and agriculture groups had a lot in common. Both are composed of fiercely proud people who don’t like “outsiders” telling them what to do. As you said, talking to them in their space and in their language is critical.

Few of us have “30 Days” to really get inside the mind of another person. But we can all find ways to better understand another person’s point of view, then frame a discussion in a way so that person can feel comfortable and open to new ideas.

Comment by chrisr11

You’re absolutely right that we don’t have “30 days” to get inside the minds of other people – we lack the time and money. This has been my biggest struggle in determining the best tactics to deliver messages to this audience, and I’m sure the agriculture group felt the same way. I suppose the best answer, in the absence of Spurlock going into their communities and being not only nationally televised, but syndicated over and over so that mobs of people see the message, is to empower them with the knowledge, and speak to them through their community and union leaders.

Comment by matthewj77

I really enjoyed your group’s presentation. I think you and I are both fascinated by the psychology behind consumer behaviors and what motivates someone to a purchase action. I saw some of that (albeit from a different angle) in the videos that both your group and my group showed the class — i.e., the psyschology behind what motivates a blue collar worker or a farmer to either get on board or brush off climate change and clean energy practices.
I also wanted to say thanks for sharing “The Story of Stuff.” Again, I saw in that video a lot to do with consumer behavior psychology — the idea that we throw away stuff and buy more because we are told to do so by advertising in order to feel good about ourselves. I wonder, as marketers, aren’t we responsible for creating these behaviors in our targeted consumer groups? And in that vein, are we actually contributing to climate change? Things that make you go hmm…


Comment by lizhawks

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