Characteristics & Techniques of Writing Feature Story

Feature Story:

A feature story is any piece of writing that falls between the cut-and-dried news story on the one hand, and the w holly fictionalized story or opinionated essay 011 the other hand. It is the product ol tactual reporting and reporting to which are added story elements of imaginative writing and interpretation. The special feature article is similar to news story in that it gives the readers facts in an interesting form. But it goes beyond those facts by multiplying them with study, research, and interviews to instruct, guide and entertain the readers who know about the subject as well as those who do not know.

Feature stories can be news stories. Features can be investigative. Features can be in-depth studies. Features can be for fun. The subject can be anything: places- a community, a farm, a business, topics-education, science, economy, religion, philosophy; events-parades, programmes, concerts; people-well known or unknown animals-unusual or ordinary; objects-art or product. In Other words, features can be about anything, you want to write about.

DEFINITION

A feature story is a creative, sometimes subjective article designed primarily to entertain and to inform readers of an event, a situation or an aspect of life.

CHARACTERISTICS OF FEATURE STORIES

Following are some of the most important characteristics of feature stories:

1. They may inform, instruct and advise, but their primary purpose is to entertain the readers. They are usually read after the news and in leisure moments.

  1. They are factual, and require reporting.
  2. They may or may not be timely. If they are timely and related to a current news event, they are likely to appeal more to readers.
  3. They may be written in any form and style. The only criterion is that the form and style be appropriate to the contents and purpose of the story.
  4. They permit the reporter to use his/her knowledge and ingenuity to write a story original in ideas and treatment.
  5. They rarely have news leads. Instead, they more often have novelty leads.
  6. They usually strike the keynote in the opening sentences, which permit the readers to come into quick contact with the story and become interested.
  7. They usually are not cut in make-up. Thus, the reporter may use any devices of the fiction writer: suspense, dialogue, description, narration, climax, and the like. The inverted pyramid does fit the purpose of a feature story.
  8. They require the writer to apply his/her imaginations to the facts, yet they are not fiction.

10. Tilley apply all principles of effective writing to achieve unity, coherence, and emphasis.

11. They usually can be improved by rewriting to eliminate all writing faults. For example, stodginess, verbosity-, abstractness, monotony and absence of rhythm, etc.

12: They bring readers as close as possible to the experience or idea of the story. The reader feels himself as a part of the story.

Techniques of WRITING THE FEATURE

 Structure

A feature is seldom written in the traditional Inverted pyramid pattern. Feature may be written in a narrative fashion, much like a good joke of anecdote. The good feature requires as much organization as the straight news story, for the feature has to flow smoothly and parts of a feature story must be kept intact if it is to succeed. In the well-planned story, every paragraph, every sentence, should add to the total effect

Leads

The lead much attract immediate attention and pull the reader into the story. Leads can vary in style and content. You can use description, narration, dialogue, question, unusual statement, call to action, comparison-contrast.

Transition

No matter how good the lead is, you need a solid transition into the body of the feature. If you think of the lead as a lure to attract the audience, then the transition .ets the hook. It makes the reader want to continue. And it promises some kind of satisfaction or reward. The reward can be entertainment, information or self- awareness but has to be something of value to the reader.

Body

Sound knowledge of the subject, coupled with good writing skills, will let you take the reader through a variety of experiences. You should use the standard writing devices of crisp dialogue, documentable but vivid fact and detail, careful observation, suspense and if appropriate, plot.

Conclusions

The conclusion should give the reader a sense of satisfaction You need to tie the conclusion to the lead so that the story has unity. Often you can do this_ through a short, tight summary, Occasionally, you can conclude with an anecdote or a quote that sums up the substance of the story. With a narrative approach, you build toward a climax.

Length

If a reporter asks how long. a feature story should be. the editor may reply, “as long as you keep it interesting.” Feature stories vary in length from two or three paragraphs to 15 or 20 triple-spaced sheets of copy. Readers interest is the main yardstick by which they are judged. And editors are paid to accurately asses, leaders interest.

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Techniques for Measuring the Effects of Advertising Campaign

Discuss the various strategies and techniques for measuring advertising campaign.

Techniques for Measuring the Effects of Advertising Campaign:

There are many advertising campaign effectiveness measurement techniques in use. These techniques are divided into classes and then evaluated or measured.

Classes of Measurement Techniques

Advertising campaign effectiveness measurement techniques can be classified as measuring cognitive response, effective response and conative response. A cognitive response measurement technique evaluates changes in subject’s knowledge; an effective response measurement technique measures dhanges in consumer’s attitudes towards a product; and a conative response measurement determines the action that consumers take towards a product.

Approach to Examining Measurement

In selecting each measurement technique, two related questions or approaches must be considered.

Does the measurement technique meet the criteria for measurement techniques i.e., is the technique accurate and valid?

The advertiser must select a measurement technique that measures the particular element to be evaluated.

The analysis of measurement techniques which- follows is designed to help in answering these questions.

 

Cognitive (Knowledge) Test

The responses measured by cognitive tests are the earliest stages of the hierarchy of effects. Some of these tests measure changes in the first or awareness stage by • determining how many people were exposed to the advertising campaign’s elements being tested e.g. media audience measures or physiological measurement.

Media Audience Measurement

Media audience measurement serves as an important technique for evaluating or measuring effectiveness of a media programme for an advertising campaign. The technique used to measure the audience of media vehicle varies from medium to medium. Therefore certain steps must be included in media audience measurement which are:

1. Design of measurement

2. Uses of audience measurement

3. Evaluation of audience measurement.

  1. Sampling error
  2. Distortion of estimates.

Physiological Measurement

A variety of laboratory measurement devices that record physical response to stimuli have been applied as advertising campaign measures. These tests are most often used to evaluate creative elements of an advertising campaign. The physiological measurement consists of the following steps:

  1. Design of the measurement
  2. Use of physiological measurement
  3. Evaluation of physiological measurement.

Affective (Attitude) Tests

Affective tests move to the liking and preference stages in the hierarchy. The responses measured are consumer’s attitudes towards companies products, and advertisements of advertising campaign.

The rationale behind these tests is that a favourable change in attitude towards a product means that a person will be more likely to buy that product. The affective tests are completed through the following steps:

Opinion Measurements

  1. Design of opinion measurements.

Consumer juries

Headline testing

  1. Evaluation of opinion measurements.

Attitude Measurements

  1. Design of attitude measurements
  2. Uses of attitude measurements
  3. Evaluation of attitude measurements.

Conative (Motive) Tests:                 i

Conative tests move one stage further along the hierarchy of effects arid measure the action that people take as a result of advertising campaign. Sometimes the action measured is actual purchase of the product, and sometimes the measurement is of some action prior to purchase or some action that is thought to stimulate purchase. The conative tests include different steps which are: 1. Inquiry Measurements –

  1. Design of inquiry tests
  2. Evaluation of inquiry tests
  3. Split-rum tests
  4. Theatre tests
  5. Split cable tests

Sales Analysis Measurements

Since the ultimate effects desired from an advertising campaign are purchase, sales, resold etc., hence if they can be related to advertising effort, it represents the most valuable measure at advertising campaign effectiveness. Sales analysis measurements are completed by the following steps.

Design of the sales measurement approach

Measuring consumer sales.

Evaluation of consumer sales measures.

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Various Techniques of Persuasion

What are the various techniques of persuasion? Explain with   your own examples.

Various Techniques of Persuasion

Techniques of Persuasion

We now turn to three important techniques commonly used in persuasion: appeals to humor, appeals to sex, and extensive repetition of an advertising message. Audiences and communicators need to understand their applications—and their potential misuse.

Appeals to Humor:

The use of humor is a popular technique in communication. Many public speakers ob­viously believe in the importance of beginning their talks with a humorous story. Studies have suggested that 15 to 20 percent of television commercials contain some element of humor (Kelly & Solomon, 1975; Duncan & Nelson, 1985).

In the typical study of the effects of humor on attitude change or other variables in the hierarchy of effects, different groups are exposed to different versions of the same mes­sage—one with humor and one without. For instance, Brooker (1981) examined the effects of humor in two commercials—one for a toothpaste and one for a flu vaccine. Examples of the humorous appeals used in his study appear in Table 9.7.

When attitude change or persuasion is the dependent variable of interest, most stud­ies have not found a significant effect due to humor (Gruner, 1965, 1967, 1970, 1972; Brooker, 1981).

Other studies of the effectiveness of humor indicate that it has more of an effect on lower-order communication effects (responses lower in the response hierarchy) than on higher-order communication effects (Gelb & Pickett, 1983; Duncan & Nelson, 1985). That is, humor is more effective in attracting attention, generating liking for the communicator, and so forth, than it is in producing attitude change or changes in behavior.

Not all studies agree, however, that humor is even effective in generating liking for the communicator. One study showed that a woman speaker was liked less when she used humor than when she did not (Taylor, 1974). The author suggests that the speaker was perceived as “trying too hard to curry favor?’ Similarly, another study showed that college teachers who use humor are perceived with “suspicion and hostility” because they are acting contrary to student expectations that a teacher’s behavior will be controlling and evaluative (Darling & Civikly, 1984).

The research on the effectiveness of humor that has been conducted so far should be interpreted in light of its limitations, however. One limitation is that the settings of the studies have often been classrooms or laboratories, which might not be representative of the settings where humor is expected. Another limitation is that the research has tended to be nontheoretical, with little discussion of why humor might or might not be effective in achieving various effects. Markiewicz (1974) has suggested that learning theory and dis­traction theory are two promising theories for understanding the relationship of humor to persuasion. A learning theory approach might suggest that humor would provide rein­forcement and thus lead to greater attitude change. A distraction theory approach might

Toothbrush:

Vaccine:

Toothbrush:

Vaccine:

Toothbrush: Vaccine:

 

 

Toothbrush:

 

Vaccine

Pun

Here’s an idea with some “teeth” in it.

Song of the spring camper: “We’re tenting tonight on the old damp ground.”

Limerick

If your lady friend turns aside her nose Whenever you begin to propose The halitosis demon Might be what sends her screamin’ And your toothbrush could help to solve your woes.

There was an old lady of Crewe Who was horribly frightened of flu. She spoilt her complexion Through fear of infection Having fixed on her gas mask with glue.

Joke

Detecting decay in the tooth of a beautiful young woman, the dentist said, “What’s a place like this doing in a girl like you?”

A little boy was found watchinj a movie by the manager in the morning. “Why aren’t you in school?” he asked the boy. “It’s O.K., mister, I’m just getting over the flu.”

One-liner

Oscar Levant once said, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Many flu sufferers have said, “I hope I’m really sick. I’d hate to feel like this if I’m well.”

From G. W. Brooker, “A Comparison of the Persuasive Elects of Mild Humor and Mild Fear Appeals,’ Journal of Advertising 10, no. 4 (1981): 32. Used by permission make the prediction that humor would be distracting. This distraction, in turn, might lead to greater attitude change by preventing counterarguing (Festinger & Maccoby, 1964). Or distraction might lead to less attitude change by interfering with attentiveness to the mes­sage.

It has also been suggested that the use of humor needs to be studied in relation to other variables (Kelly & Solomon, 1975). For instance, in advertising, is the humor more effec­tive when it relates to the topic or when it does not? In a commercial, should the humor come at the beginning, at the end, or all through the commercial?

Appeals to Sex

The use of sexy models and other sexual appeals is a common technique in advertising. One study has indicated that more than one-fourth of magazine ads contain “obviously alluring” female models (Sexton & Haberman, 1974). Furthermore, these kinds of ads are on the increase. The same study showed the ads with “obviously alluring” models in­creased from 10 percent it 1951 to 27 percent in 1971. Many advertisers apparently be- » lieve that “sex sells.” But does it?

At least one study suggests that a sexy model can affect the perception or image of a product, even if there is very little logical connection between the model and the product. Smith and Engel (1968) prepared a print ad for an automobile in two versions. In one version, a female model clad in black lace panties and a simple sleeveless sweater stood in front of the car. She held a spear—on the assumption that the spear might be regarded as a phallic symbol and might lead the model to be seen as more aggressively seductive. In the other version, there was no model. When the car was pictured with the woman, subjects rated it as more appealing, more youthful, more lively, and better designed. Even objective characteristics were affected. When the car appeared with the woman, it was rated as higher in horsepower, less safe, more expensive by $340, and able to move an average 7.3 miles per hour faster. In general, male and female subjects responded the same way other ads.

In contrast to the Smith and Engel study, however, a number of studies investigating the effects of sexy models on brand recall have shown either no effect or less recall with the sexy moder(Chestnur, LaChance, & Lubitz, 1977; Alexander & Judd, 1978). It appears that the sexy models distract the viewers’ attention away from the portion of the ad pre­senting the product or company name.

One study suggests that for certain products, an attractive female might not be as effec­tive in stimulating sales as an attractive male (Caballero & Solomon, 1984). This study changed the displays for a brand of beer and a brand of tissue that appeared at the end of an aisle in a Tom Thumb supermarket. They found that overall, the male models tended to stimulate more beer sales among both male and female customers than either the female stimulus or the control (no model) treatment.

Another study indicates that response to sex in advertising is not a simple variable (Mor­rison & Sherman, 1972). The study had a number of subjects look at ads from magazines and express their reaction to them on rating scales. They then used cluster analysis to look for different patterns of response. For the males, they identified three dimensions of re­sponse as important: (1) the “Tom Jones” dimension, (2) the intellectualizing dimension, and (3) the fetishism dimension. For females, they identified four dimensions: (1) sensualism, (2) love/sexism, (3) romanticism, and (4) fantasism. Not only do different ads empha­size some of these dimensions and not others, but different people respond to some , dimensions favorably while ignoring others completely. The authors also found that, con­trary to their expectation, women were more quick to pick up on suggestiveness in copy than men.

There are also some clear-cut age differences in responses to sex appeals in advertising, with younger people approving of them more than older people (Wise, King, & Merenski, 1974).

Even though sex in advertising is common, it appears that there are some risks in using it. Appeals to sex might be disapproved of by some audience members, might be misperceived or missed by others, and might distracfstill others from the real purpose of the ad. Fev(, if any, studies exist that show a positive effect of sex in advertising on brand recall or product sales. While the Smith and Engel study shows a sexy model having the effect of increasing the favorable evaluation of an automobile in an ad, it did not test for brand recall after seeing the ad. It is possible that the subjects did not recall the name of the kind of automobile any better with the sexy model than without, and this would defeat the purpose of the ad.

Jib Fowles, the author of an article titled “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals,” draws this conclusion about appeals to the need for sex: “As a rule, though, advertisers have found sex to be a tricky appeal, to be used sparingly. Less controversial and equally fetch­ing are the appeals to our need for affectionate human contact” (1982, p. 278).

Effects of Repetition

Many mass communication messages—particularly advertisements, whether commer­cial or political—are repeated extensively. There are a number of reasons why this might be a good idea. Not all audience members will be watching at the same time, of, in the print media, not all readers will see a single printing of an advertisement. Another advantage of repetition is that it might remind the audience of a source for a message from a high-cred­ibility source, and thus prevent the drop-off in attitude change from a high-credibility source found over time by Hovland and Weiss. Repeating a message might help the learn­ing of attitudes and emotional meanings for words discussed by Staats and Staats, since a repeated association of the two stimuli is part of the process of conditioning. Repetition might help the audience remember the message itself. Zielske (1959) showed that advertis­ing is quickly forgotten if not continuously exposed.

Krugman (1972) has presented the intriguing argument that three exposures might be all that are needed for a television advertisement to have its desired effect. But he adds the important qualification that it might take 23 exposures to get the three that produce the particular responses that are needed. Krugman suggests that the first exposure to an ad is dominated by a cognitive “What is it?” response. The second exposure is dominated by an evaluative “What of it?” response. And the third exposure is a reminder, but also the be­ginning of disengagement. Krugman points out a fundamental difficulty, however, in that people can screen out television ads by stopping at the “What is it?” response without further involvement. Then, on perhaps the 23rd exposure, they might, or might not, move on to the “What of it?” response. Thus, Krugman’s analysis is stating that three exposures to an advertisement might be enough under ideal circumstances, but that it might take a number of repetitions to achieve those three.

Too much repetition can also have some undesirable effects, however. In one study, three groups of subjects were presented with one, three, or five repetitions of a persuasive message (Cacioppo & Petty, 1979). The researchers found that the message repetition led at first to increasing agreement with the advocated position, but that after a certain point it led to decreasing agreement with the advocated position. They found repetition led to decreas­ing, then increasing, counterarguing against the message by the recipient of the message. And they found that any amount of repetition led to increasing topic-irrelevant thinking. This kind of curvilinear relationship between repetition and communication effects was also found in a study of political advertising. Becker and Doolitfle (1975) found that both liking for a candidate and seeking of information about a candidate were highest with a moderate amount of repetition but declined with high repetition.

Another study found that humor ratings declined steadily with repetition of ads (Gelb & Zinkham, 1985). A change in the creative execution of the ad was found to boost the humor ratings back up, though.

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Various Propaganda Techniques

Discuss the various techniques of propaganda with your own examples.

Propaganda Techniques

Propaganda is a set of the messages intended to influence the opinions of the masses, not giving the opponents any opportunity to rebut the idea. Instead of telling people the truth, propaganda often aims at manipulation of ideas to influence the behavior of a large number of people. So, it presents ideas selectively. Propaganda is related to advertising, where it is about promoting a product. It is also used to influence religious beliefs of society.

During the 20th century, the term propaganda acquired a negative meaning in the western countries. It meant, a deliberate dissemination of frequently false, but ‘obligating’ justifications of certain political ideologies. The propagandist seeks to alter the way people understand an issue in favor of the interest group.

The five types of propaganda techniques used in advertising are Bandwagon, Testimonial, Transfer, Repetition and Emotional words.

  • Bandwagon: – It aims at persuading people to do a certain thing because many other people are doing it. An example can be a soft drink advertisement wherein a large group of people is shown drinking the same soft drink. People feel induced to opt for that soft drink as it is shown to be consumed by many. Snob appeal is reverse of bandwagon. It indicates that buying a certain product will make you stand out from the rest, as the masses won’t afford to buy it.
  • Testimonial: – This propaganda technique uses words of an expert or a famous person to promote a particular idea. For example, a sports person is shown recommending a brand of sport shoes. Generally, people idealize celebrated figures. So celebrities are used to advertise certain products. A testimonial has to be reasonable. Advertisers are cautioned not to use false testimonials, as they lack authenticity.
  • Transfer: – In this technique, qualities of a well-known person are associated with a product to promote or demote it. Linking an item to a respected person is positive transfer. Creating an analogy between a disliked person and a product is negative transfer. It is also used during war times.
  • Repetition: – It is when the product name is repeated many times during an advertisement. This technique may use a jingle, which is appealing to the masses and fits in their minds.
  • Emotional words: – This is meant to generate positive feelings in the minds of the masses. Words like ‘luxury’, ‘paradise’ are used to evoke certain feelings in the minds of the people, which they associate with the product being sold.

Propaganda Techniques

Edward Filene helped establish the Institute of Propaganda Analysis in 1937 to educate the American public about the nature of propaganda and how to recognize propaganda techniques. Filene and his colleagues identified the seven most common “tricks of the trade” used by successful propagandists (Marlin 102-106Propaganda Critic: Introduction). These seven techniques are called:

  • Name Calling
  • Glittering Generalities
  • Transfer
  • Testimonial
  • Plain Folks
  • Card Stacking
  • Band Wagon

These techniques are designed to fool us because the appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason. The techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis are further refined by Aaron Delwich in his website, Propaganda where he “discusses various propaganda techniques, provides contemporary examples of their use, and proposes strategies of mental self-defense.” By pointing out these techniques, we hope to join with others who have written on this topic to create awareness and encourage serious consideration of the influence of contemporary propaganda directed at us through the various media and suggest ways to guard against its influence on our lives.

Name Calling: Propagandists use this technique to create fear and arouse prejudice by using negative words (bad names) to create an unfavorable opinion or hatred against a group, beliefs, ideas or institutions they would have us denounce. This method calls for a conclusion without examining the evidence. Name Calling is used as a substitute for arguing the merits of an idea, belief, or proposal. It is often employed using sarcasm and ridicule in political cartoons and writing. When confronted with this technique the Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves the following questions: What does the name mean? Is there a real connection between the idea and the name being used? What are the merits of the idea if I leave the name out of consideration? When examining this technique try to separate your feelings about the name and the actual idea or proposal (Propaganda Critic: Common Techniques 1).

Glittering Generalities: Propagandists employ vague, sweeping statements (often slogans or simple catchphrases) using language associated with values and beliefs deeply held by the audience without providing supporting information or reason. They appeal to such notions as honor, glory, love of country, desire for peace, freedom, and family values. The words and phrases are vague and suggest different things to different people but the implication is always favorable. It cannot be proved true or false because it really says little or nothing at all. The Institute of Propaganda Analysis suggests a number of questions we should ask ourselves if we are confronted with this technique: What do the slogans or phrases really mean? Is there a legitimate connection between the idea being discussed and the true meaning of the slogan or phrase being used? What are the merits of the idea itself if it is separated from the slogans or phrases?

Transfer: Transfer is a technique used to carry over the authority and approval of something we respect and revere to something the propagandist would have us accept. Propagandists often employ symbols (e.g., waving the flag) to stir our emotions and win our approval. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves these questions when confronted with this technique. What is the speaker trying to pitch? What is the meaning of the thing the propagandist is trying to impart? Is there a legitimate connection between the suggestion made by the propagandist and the person or product? Is there merit in the proposal by itself? When confronted with this technique, question the merits of the idea or proposal independently of the convictions about other persons, ideas, or proposals.

Testimonial: Propagandists use this technique to associate a respected person or someone with experience to endorse a product or cause by giving it their stamp of approval hoping that the intended audience will follow their example. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves the following question when confronted with this technique. Who is quoted in the testimonial?  Why should we regard this person as an expert or trust their testimony? Is there merit to the idea or product without the testimony? You can guard yourself against this technique by demonstrating that the person giving the testimonial is not a recognized authority, prove they have an agenda or vested interest, or show there is disagreement by other experts.

Plain Folks: Propagandists use this approach to convince the audience that the spokesperson is from humble origins, someone they can trust and who has their interests at heart. Propagandists have the speaker use ordinary language and mannerisms to reach the audience and identify with their point of view. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves the following questions before deciding on any issue when confronted with this technique. Is the person credible and trustworthy when they are removed from the situation being discussed? Is the person trying to cover up anything? What are the facts of the situation? When confronted with this type of propaganda consider the ideas and proposals separately from the personality of the presenter.

Bandwagon: Propagandists use this technique to persuade the audience to follow the crowd. This device creates the impression of widespread support. It reinforces the human desire to be on the winning side. It also plays on feelings of loneliness and isolation. Propagandists use this technique to convince people not already on the bandwagon to join in a mass movement while simultaneously reassuring that those on or partially on should stay aboard. Bandwagon propaganda has taken on a new twist. Propagandists are now trying to convince the target audience that if they don’t join in they will be left out. The implication is that if you don’t jump on the bandwagon the parade will pass you by. While this is contrary to the other method, it has the same effect: getting the audience to join in with the crowd. The Institute of Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves the following questions when confronted with this technique. What is the propagandist’s program?  What is the evidence for and against the program? Even though others are supporting it, why should I? As with most propaganda techniques, getting more information is the best defense.  When confronted with Bandwagon propaganda, consider the pros and cons before joining in.

Card Stacking: Propagandist uses this technique to make the best case possible for his side and the worst for the opposing viewpoint by carefully using only those facts that support his or her side of the argument while attempting to lead the audience into accepting the facts as a conclusion. In other words, the propagandist stacks the cards against the truth. Card stacking is the most difficult technique to detect because it does not provide all of the information necessary for the audience to make an informed decision. The audience must decide what is missing. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis suggests we ask ourselves the following question when confronted with this technique: Are facts being distorted or omitted? What other arguments exist to support these assertions? As with any other propaganda technique, the best defense against Card Stacking is to get as much information that is possible before making a decision.

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