Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spin the Voter Propaganda Wheel: Power & Persuasion

Play the Spin the Voter Propaganda Wheel

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion is an exhibition at the British Library, London
(17 May - 17 September 2013)

The Basic Techniques explored are:

Establish authority

Link a person or idea with existing symbols of power and authority, which people understand and are comfortable with. Using appropriate symbolism can generate deep psychological resonances.

Exploit existing beliefs

People are much more receptive to messages that build on attitudes and beliefs they already hold dear. Use this technique to play on class, cultural, religious and national stereotypes.

Appeal to patriotism

Play up to nationalist sentiments and emphasise benefits to the nation. People often fail to question ideas linked to the emotive but general sense of patriotism.

Create fear

In a state of fear your audience is more likely to believe you. This technique is particularly effective if you play on existing anxieties and prejudices against people, groups or behaviours.

Imply everyone agrees

The desire to fit in is a strong one and many people go along with the crowd. Combine with apparent plain speaking, an appeal to the ‘average’ person, and deliver in a style which suit your audience.

Disguise the source

Carefully plant stories and faces so that they come from an independent source your audience trusts. They will have less reason to question the messages your are spreading.

Use humour

Making your audience smile or laugh can make powerful people, countries and ideas seem less threatening and even ridiculous. Humour is particularly useful if you are politically weaker than your opponent.

Make false connections

Start with an uncontested statement and link it with something more controversial. Many people will not notice that there is no logical link between the two. Alternatively link a person or idea with a more general truism, either good or bad.

Be selective about the truth

Control how and when information is released. Ensure only stories that support your position are reported. Where an event is controversial, make sure only the facts and testimony that favour your interpretation are heard.

Hammer it home

Decide on your message and stick to it. Saturate your audience, repeating it in as many different media as you can mobilise. Constant repetition will overcome initial scepticism.

Establish a leadership cult

Encourage the population to think their leaser is solely responsible for all successes. Eventually more people may come to believe that their personal fate and that of the nation is inextricably bound up with that of the leader. For advanced practitioners only.

Spin the wheel above to choose a technique and then pick your favourite examples from Australian (or other countries') politics and/or election campaigning to match it. Responses can be added in comments below or using the hashtag #spinthevoter in a tweet or on Facebook. You might like to add the #auspol hashtag if there's room.

Thanks to: Sue Keogh at Sookio for the text of the British Library pamphlet & Wheel Decide for the template.