Mirror Messages Campaign Strategy

Mirror Messages is a movement that spreads positivity to those who suffer with low self-esteem issues by encouraging others to post inspirational messages on sticky notes and leaving these sticky notes on the mirrors of a bathroom for someone else to see. According to the article Improving the Body Image, Eating Attitudes, and Behaviors of Young Male and Female Adolescents: A New Educational Approach that Focuses on Self-Esteem, some schools offer a self-esteem education program that aim to change body image and behaviors of young men and women that involves an eating disorder intervention program. “The results of these interventions showed that the information-based approach to the primary prevention of eating disorders is likely to improve knowledge of eating disorders and problem eating, but is unlikely to affect the beliefs, attitudes, intent, and behaviors that influence the development of eating problems” (O’dea and Abraham 2000). The goal of this movement is to decrease the number of young men and women who are unhappy with their body and/or experience some sort of body dysmorphia, and the solution is by posting these sticky notes in places that trigger low self-esteem, such as bathroom mirrors, to brighten someone else’s day. I have personally seen this movement take place, specifically at the Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center at the University of Rhode Island, and believe that getting more college students involved in this movement would be extremely beneficial to those who need encouraging messages in their life.

The overall goal for my campaign is to spread the word about this movement by asking students to participate in the mirror messages movement and then challenge their friends to do the same. For my campaign strategy, I decided that the best way to spread the word about this movement is to have participants use a hashtag #MIRRORMESSAGES whenever they post about being part of the campaign on social media. The target audience for this campaign are young men and women, specifically college students, between the ages of 17 and 23 years old. For the production process of this campaign, I decided that the best way to reach this target audience was by creating an Instagram account for the campaign as well as an infographic that explains the four steps someone can take to join the campaign, including the following: (1) write down an inspirational message on a sticky note, (2) find a mirror to display the message, (3) challenge a friend to join, and (4) spread the word by using the #MIRRORMESSAGES hashtag.

Strategy Reflection

In class, we discussed how the use of beneficial propaganda in visual material can attract an audience and persuade this audience to change their behaviors. “A strong line of argument proposes that persuasion is effected by bringing an audience into a state of emotion. In terms of campaigns, those of the text-rich education-type have been superseded by visual-rich social marketing. This shift reflects a body of evidence that information alone does not attract people’s attention sufficiently to bring on the changes that campaigns hope to effect. Rather, they have to be lured in and, to this end, visual material is called upon” (Joffe 2016). Because people today are less literate and are more attracted to advertisements that include powerful visuals, I used an infographic for my campaign that included a small amount of information with pictures to correspond with the information to attract my target audience. I also created a Mirror Messages campaign Instagram account that has posted several powerful pictures about body dysmorphia and how joining the campaign can help others who experience low self-esteem. “According to communications theories, repeated exposure to media content leads views to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality” (Grabe, Ward, and Hyde 2008). Every day, men and women are exposed to unrealistic body expectations and compare their own physical appearance to the ones they see on social media sites like Instagram. My goal for this campaign is to fill media sites, such as Instagram, with body-positive messages from the Mirror Messages movement to expose the men and women suffering with low self-esteem to encouraging words and boost their confidence.

Learning Experience

Through this course, I have learned how easily propaganda can be spread through a variety of mediums. For example, Twitter and other social media sites play a major role in the spread of “fake news” and other messages that are intended to disinform the public. I also learned that the ability to persuade the general public is crucial for any propagandist to succeed in their role and they rely on gaining the public’s approval. Similar to Hitler, being a successful propagandist requires confidence when delivering a message as well as a support system behind them.

Although many people believe that propaganda is a negative aspect in the news, where it’s intent is only to disinform the public, I learned in this course that there are also many forms of beneficial propaganda. For example, AT&T came out with a campaign against texting and driving, and released a documentary called From One Second to the Next that showed the impacts of texting and driving accidents not only from the victim’s point of view but also from the offender’s point of view. The goal of this campaign was to spread awareness about texting and driving and asking the public to join the campaign. Through creating my first propaganda mini-campaign, I have created beneficial propaganda by creating awareness of body image issues and persuading others to change their behaviors and attitudes towards the issue.

Works Cited

Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., and Hyde, J. S. (2008). The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies. Retrieved at  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shelly_Grabe/publication/5259131_The_Role_of_the_Media_in_Body_Image_Concerns_Among_Women_A_Meta-Analysis_of_Experimental_and_Correlational_Studies/links/54302c850cf27e39fa9dca4b.pdf

Joffe, H. (2016). The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification. Retrieved at https://propaganda2017.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/joffe-2008-the-power-of-visual-material-persuasion-emotion-1.pdf

O’Dea, J. A. and Abraham, S. (2000). Improving the Body Image, Eating Attitudes, and Behaviors of  Young Male and Female Adolescents: A New Educational Approach that Focuses on Self-Esteem. Retrieved at https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/31428574/odeaabraham2000.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1525734934&Signature=hVMq0TUyJtzD4v0e%2FNtQc66aLAc%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DImproving_the_body_image_eating_attitude.pdf

Mirror Messages Infograph

Link to Campaign Instagram


LEAP 3 – Gun Violence and Regulations

My colleague and I composed this academic essay on the issue of gun violence and how the way Americans respond to this violence has changed over the years. In our essay, we review a piece of propaganda that was created as a result of the Columbine massacre and compare this to propaganda from the current March For Our Lives movement.

Click here to read our essay.

Click here to view our infograph.


LEAP 2 Assignment

In this screencast, I critically analyze an advertisement created by H&M that was considered “racially insensitive” and created a large controversy about the company’s morals.



Works Cited

Borovic, K. (January 2018). H&M Apology for a “Racist” Kid’s Sweatshirt Cites Broken Protocol, but Twitter Says It’s Not Enough. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/handm-apology-for-a-racist-kids-sweatshirt-cites-broken-protocol-but-twitter-says-its-not-enough-7833373

Guardian Staff and Agencies. (2018 January 13). H&M Stores in South Africa Trashed by   Protesters After ‘Racist’ Ad. Retrieved from           https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/14/hm-stores-in-south-afrtica-trashed-by-protesters-after-racist-ad

Hobbs, R. (2013). The blurring of art, journalism and advocacy: Confronting 21st century  propaganda in a world of online journalism. I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society 8(3), 625 – 638.

Rahman, A. (7 January 2018). H&M Faces Twitter Backlash for ‘Racist’ Hoodie. Retrieved from https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/h-m-faces-twitter-backlash-racist-hoodie-1072791

West, S. (2018 January 20). H&M faced backlash over its ‘monkey’ sweatshirt ad, but it isn’t the company’s only controversy. Retrieved from        http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/style/ct-h-m-race-backlash-20180119-story.html

Bad News Game – Mastering the Art of Disinformation

Recently in my COM 416 Propaganda class, we have been discussing the numerous ways in which “fake news” can be spread in the media. We learned that disinformation in the media is when a journalist, news anchor, or public speaker spreads information that is deliberately false or misleading. I wanted to test my own ability to spread disinformation, so I decided to play the “Bad News” game. https://www.getbadnews.com/#next

The objective of this game is to establish your own news site and gain followers for your site by spreading “fake news” and attacking groups in power, while also testing your credibility based on how you choose to proceed with your posts. When you reach a certain objective or goal, you receive a badge saying that you successfully mastered a specific element of spreading disinformation. Depending on how well you do in this game, you have the opportunity to earn 6 badges:

1. Impersonation           vermommen

This element of disinformation is when you pretend to be someone else and make yourself seem like a highly credible news source. Because most people don’t actually check the credibility of news sources, it is fairly simple to spread disinformation.

2. Emotionemotion

When attempting to spread a message, it is almost always effective to tap into people’s emotions. If someone has strong emotions towards a subject, they will almost always pay attention to what is being said about the subject and respond accordingly. The headlines of viral articles are usually short but sharp in a way that will evoke these followers’ emotions. Most people won’t even read the article and will simply react to what the headline says.

3. Polarizationpolariseer

In this game, I was asked to take an existing issue and make it seem like something so much bigger than it actually was by creating disinformation about the subject. This element of disinformation can separate people based on their beliefs in the subject and can easily be exploited by content producers.

4. Conspiracymanipuleer

Because we are always looking to find out the truth, conspiracy theories will get people talking, whether the theory is accurate or just completely made up. The element of conspiracy in disinformation is a useful tool when attempting to gain followers to your site, no matter how ridiculous the conspiracy may seem.

For my site, I decided to use memes to lure people into my “band of followers” instead of article posts. By simply using bold statements attached to a concerning picture, people became interested and started talking.

5. Discreditverdedig

After gaining about 5,000+ followers, I entered the point in the game where a fact-checking site attacked my credibility as a news source. I decided the best way to go was to apologize for an misinformation rather than retaliating against the fact-checker. However, I learned that this caused me to lose a decent amount of followers and the best way to go was to strike back. The best solution is to go against the source that is trying to question your credibility and actually discredit them instead.

6. Trollingtrol

Similar to Polarization, the element of Trolling attempts to evoke an emotional response in your opponents and expand your “band of followers.” In this game, I attacked the CIA and released a piece of news that questioned some of their motives. By doing this, I caused my followers to become angry with the CIA and remain on my side. The result was the resignation of an important authority figure and thus I successfully spread disinformation.

Propaganda in My Life

​I. Introduction

Propaganda has been dated back to the 1600s and has been prevalent in our
world ever since then – the only difference is the way in which we receive it
today. In my opinion, social media is the main channel that everyone gets their
information. Whether it be news, advertising, entertainment, education,
politics, or activism, people today obtain most of their daily information
through different forms of social media. While most people view propaganda as
harmful, there are also many forms of propaganda that can be beneficial.
Before enrolling in this course, I never thought about propaganda in my
life. I used to think that propaganda was an aspect of politics and only used
within the government. After exploring ideas from Bernays, Holiday, and other
propagandists with my colleagues, I am now more aware of the propaganda I am
exposed to in my own daily life.

II.  Journalism and Public Relations
Like most Americans today, I am not someone who sits down at watches the five
o’clock news every night to find out what is going on in the world. Rather, I
unintentionally obtain the news that I am exposed to. What I mean by this is
that I will come across news articles and information as I am scrolling through
my social media. My intention is to see what my followers/friends/family are up
to, but often times I will see stories that relate to my interests. This is
because social media sites now track your search history to analyze your
interests and show you things that they think you would be interested in. Public Relations is defined as “the term used for communication professionals who seek to shape perceptions and influence public opinion on behalf of a business client.” Businesses and journalists will use social media as a mean of public relations so that they can find their “clients” based on interest. This use of propaganda can be beneficial for the audience because they are obtaining potentially useful information without having to even look for it. For example, because I have my location settings updated on my Facebook profile, I will often come across local news stories while scrolling through my
Facebook feed and come across a story that relates or interests me.

III. Advertising
Advertising is everywhere – there is no way to avoid it. We are exposed
to it as we scroll through social media sites, any time we drive in our cars,
and especially when we watch television. Companies will invest millions of
dollars into thirty-second advertisements in attempts to relate to the general
public. “Business must express itself and its entire corporate existence so
that the public will understand and accept it. It must dramatize its
personality and interpret its objectives in every particular in which it comes
into contact with the community (or the nation) of which it is a part.”
(Bernays, 1928, 85). While the general public is exposed to all sorts of
advertisements every day, most people are not aware of what goes on behind-the-scenes
to generate all these ads. When I think of advertising, I do not think of the
ads I am exposed to every day; I think of ways in which we create ads and how
to relate to the public. Recently, I have been interning at the Ocean House in
Watch Hill, Rhode Island, a 5-star hotel that appeals to the wealthiest of
people. I work for the marketing and communications department and collaborate
with my supervisors and colleagues on advertising and media for the hotel. Whether
it be for events we are hosting or displaying our restaurants and other
services we provide, advertising is essential to the success of the company. Not
only do we use social media, we contact print ads, newspapers, and other means
of advertising to get the word out about our company and what we do. In my opinion,
propaganda through advertising is absolutely necessary for the success of any
business. 1

IV. Entertainment
One of the most popular (and one of my favorite) songs in 2017 was Logic – 1-800-273-8255 ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid. The name of this song is the suicide prevention hotline and the song itself created a lot of attention to the topic of suicide prevention. The
music video for this song shows the story of a gay African American teenage boy
who almost kills himself after his boyfriend’s father caught them together and
other kids at school began to bully him. One scene in the music video shows the
boy calling the suicide prevention hotline; he then goes on to live his life, eventually
gets married to another man, and they then adopt a baby. With over 200 million views,
this type of propaganda in entertainment is especially powerful and proved how influential music can be to the public. While some forms of entertainment, such as video
games and films depicting violence as heroic and justified, can be harmful in
the sense that it gives people negative ideas, this song was extremely
beneficial and influenced many suicidal people to get the help they needed.

V. Education
In the spring semester of 2017, I took a gender communication course here
at the University of Rhode Island. On the very first day, my professor showed
us this video from the Woman’s March in Washington, D.C., right after President
Trump was elected. The video showed a speech by actress Ashley Judd reciting a
poem written by a girl in high school. This poem was a response to Trump
referring to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman” during the third presidential
debate back in 2016. While my professor expressed that she wanted the class to
be in a “debate format,” it was clear to me from day one what her views were on
the topic of women’s rights just by her showing the class this video and
teaching in a woman’s point of view. “In politics, the American women today
occupy a much more important position, from the standpoint of their influence,
in their organized groups than from the standpoint of the leadership they have
required in actual political positions or in actual office holding.” (Bernays,
1928, 129). Because this class took place right after the 2016 presidential
election, we would often discuss speeches like the one by Ashley Judd and other
topics involving women’s rights and propaganda.

VI. Government
“Fake news” has been present in the media for many years now, and it is
most prominent today especially in the government. In the previous presidential
election, propaganda was used heavily by both candidates in order to persuade
the voters. However, not all stories that came out of that election were true,
causing reporters and journalists to become misinformed, ultimately leading to
the spread of “fake news.” As Ryan Holiday states in his book Trust Me, I’m Lying, “Most stories online are created with this mind-set. Marketing shills masquerade as
legitimate experts, giving advice and commenting on issues in way that benefit
their clients and trick people into buying their products. Blogs aren’t held
accountable for being wrong or being played, so why should they avoid it?”
(Holiday, 2013, 57). An example of “fake news” from the 2016 election was that
Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop. As ridiculous
as this news sounds, people can be persuaded to believe it with the use of propaganda
in the government.

VII. Activism
“Non-profit and advocacy groups use advertising as well, to try to
persuade people to adopt certain ideas or attitudes.” (Jack, 2017). Personally,
I don’t pay attention to activist groups. I think it’s great that they use their
freedom of speech to express their opinions and use propaganda in attempts to
influence the public on these opinions, however it’s not something that interests
me. Although activism does not particularly peak my interest, I think that
advocacy is a great way for people to communicate their concerns on topics that
are meaningful to many people and to educate the general public on these topics.
One example of advocacy I was just exposed to was the Woman’s March in
Providence, Rhode Island. I did not participate in the rally at the State House
in downtown Providence, but I did know a few women that went. Like the Woman’s
March that occurred in Washington D.C. right after Trump was elected, women rallied
together and gave speeches on women’s rights in attempts to education the general
public and persuade others to support their opinions.  image1

Works Cited
Bernays, E.L. (1928) Propaganda. New York, NY. Horace Liverlight.

Holiday, R. (2013) Trust Me, I’m Lying. New York, NY. Penguin Group.

Jack,C. “Lexicon of Lies: Terms for Problematic Information.” Data Society, https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_Lex…

Edward Bernays – Propaganda


Question #1: What is the origin of Propaganda? Propaganda has been around for centuries, dating all the way back to 1622. Although we view the phrase “propaganda” as something deceiving  and malicious today, back then most people did not look at propaganda in a negative way. In fact, propaganda was just the opposite. Edward Bernays begins the discussion in his book Propaganda by talking about Pope Gregory XV using propaganda as a tool to spread faith in attempt to stop the global spread of Protestantism.

Question #2: Invisible Government – As time has gone by, propaganda has turned from a tool that was used to inform people and promote ideas into a means of deception that rulers use to show their power over other people. In the first chapter of his book, Bernays talks about the “invisible government” and “invisible rulers” that have control over a democratic society. “We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.” (Bernays page 37). In order for society to avoid chaos and remain in harmony, many people must listen to rulers whom they do not know of or agree with. However, because this book was written 90 years ago, this type of government has changed. People of different races, genders, sexual orientation, etc., have fought for their rights since then and have more of a voice in today’s society.

Question #3: Shaping the Public Mind – Approval of the general public and citizens in the government is crucial for the success of any business, including charitable ones. Without the support of the public, businesses will fail and, eventually, will cause the economy to go down. “In our present social organization approval of the public is essential to any large undertaking. Hence a laudable movement may be lost unless it impresses itself on the public mind. Charity, as well as business, and politics and literature, for that matter, have had to adopt propaganda, for the public must be regimented into giving money just as it must be regimented into tuberculosis prophylaxis.” (Bernays page 53). Any idea, business, or person in power, that is not approved by the overall general public will not succeed according to Bernays. In order to gain the public’s approval, businesses must use propaganda to attract attention.

Question #6: Propagandists Influence – As previously mentioned in Bernays’ book Propaganda, the general public has a large influence on the success of any business, organization, or politician. However, propaganda plays a major roll in influencing the public’s ideas and decisions on these topics. “Propaganda is not a science in the laboratory sense, but it is no longer entirely the empirical affair that it was before the advent of the study of mass psychology. It is now scientific in the sense that it seeks to base its operations upon definite knowledge drawn from direct observation of the group mind, and upon the application of principle which have been demonstrated to be consistent and relatively constant.” (Bernays page 72). Every day, we are subject to propaganda as a whole, whether we know it or not. Propagandists use mass media, social media, and other means of networking to influence the ideas of the public mind.

Question #7Businesses Rely on Propaganda – In order for a business to be successful, it needs to gain the interest and approval of the general public. Referring back to question #3, businesses must use propaganda to attract attention. “Business must express itself and its entire corporate existence so that the public will understand and accept it. It must dramatize its personality and interpret its objectives in every particular in which it comes into contact with the community (or the nation) of which it is a part.” (Bernays page 85). It is no secret that politicians and businesses today exaggerate themselves to the public in order to attract attention. For example, “fake news” is a propaganda phenomenon going on in America today that many people in the general public have been paying attention to. When it comes to businesses, they must rely on a similar use of propaganda so that they can attract the most attention to their business. An example of a business using propaganda to attract attention is Sprint. Recently, the spokesperson who was formerly known as the “can you hear me now?” guy in Verizon commercials partnered with Sprint and promoted their business by using propaganda against Verizon to show they are better than their competitor.