Mass communication is the study of how we get information to the greatest number of people as quickly and effectively as possible. This broad-based area of study has evolved from print and broadcast journalism to today’s Internet-connected social media community. As opportunities to communicate to larger audiences grew, universities started offering programs to help students learn how to best communicate with the masses. Basic to the study of mass communications is examining the important and memorable events that emerged along the way Communication to an Immediate Audience
People and societies have been communicating with each other since the time of cave drawings and drums. Ancient cultures, such as the Chinese and Romans, communicated through plays and art works. The beginnings of print media were seen in China where movable clay type was invented in 1041. Monks and holy men copied the Bible by hand, but mass media really took off around 1439 whenJohannes Gutenberg‘s invention of movable type allowed the mass production and distribution of books. Although newspapers began in the early 1600s, many American colonists still relied on the town crier as their sole source of information. Communication Spreads to the Masses
Digital History focuses on the period from 1880 -1920 as leading the rise of mass communication, with the introduction of the mass market newspapers featuring comic strips, fashion pages, sports news, and women’s pages. National mass circulation magazines, such as Ladies’ Home Journal, also began to appear at that time. Frank Doubleday started organizing book tours to make and promote bestsellers. Thomas Edison introduced us to the wonders of music with his phonograph. Advertising became popular in the late 1800s when the National Biscuit Company, which later became Nabisco, spent the unheard-of sum of one million dollars on a national advertising campaign. Others (like Campbell Soups, Heinz, and Quaker Oats) quickly followed suit in communicating their products’ benefits to the buying public. At the same time, schools of higher learning were beginning to realize that they needed to instruct students on these communication techniques. Although known more for its business degrees, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offered the first communications courses in 1893. The University opened an official school of communications 60 years later.
However, Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio is distinctly known for having the first communications program. Their program, which was founded in 1906, began awarding degrees in 1909. A Rapid Rise
Communication programs at schools first focused on writing, publishing, and newspaper journalism. As photography, radio, and movies became part of the mainstream media, universities had to work hard to bring their programs up to date. In 1903, the movie The Great Train Robbery began to show the ability of the motion picture to tell a story. Marconi introduced wireless communications in 1895, which lead to commercial radio broadcasting in 1920 and television broadcasts in 1939. By 1922, movies had become so popular that they sold up to 40 million tickets a week. Walt Disney himself said, “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” The first doctoral degree in mass communication was conveyed by the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1948. After World War II, class offerings in mass communication started growing dramatically as students looked for information on communicating through media such as magazines, radio, and television. A Bold New World of Mass Communication
In the digital age, the possibilities for mass communication are growing even larger. Since the first commercial communication satellite was launched in 1960, communication possibilities have expanded to include Internet, social media, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, online video, and mobile media. In the 1990s, schools started offering courses in online communications. In 2007, Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication introduced a digital newsroom to train the news reporters of the future. A degree in mass communication can take you in many directions—business, advertising, acting, journalism, public relations, government, and international relations—and into the future. But you have to take the first step and start by getting solid fundamentals offered in advanced degree programs. Examples of Major Corporations Deploying Mass Media Strategies Mass Media Strategies Make a Marketing Difference
The study of mass communication can lead you in many exciting career directions—politics, corporate marketing, charitable work, and more. Many organizations effectively utilize mass media strategies to get their message out to their target audiences. Savvy politicians are using social mass media strategies to reach today’s highly-connected generation of voters. Some mass media strategists are now using their knowledge and abilities to fight for change and equality in the world. The following examples highlight where a degree in mass communication could take you. Ford Fuses Mass Media Strategies to Sell the Fusion
When Ford Motor Company introduced its new Ford Fusion in 2005, the manufacturer wanted to move from its traditional Taurus-driving family appeal to attracting younger, hipper drivers. The “Life in Drive” mass media strategy fused traditional television advertising with an online “Photo Fusion” interactive component to build awareness. The campaign helped Ford sell more than 23,000 Fusions in just three months and motivated the company to increase production quantities to meet demand. Olympus Uses Mass Media Strategies to Climb to the Top
Olympus Imaging used an innovative “augmented reality” campaign to motivate prospective customers to try out a simulated version of their new portable digital camera. They relied on a mass media strategy to drive consumers to a website for an interactive tutorial and simulated product “test drive.” Olympus quickly managed to get a version of their product into the hands of over 50,000 potential buyers without ever asking them to walk into a store. In addition, a contest which motivated enthusiastic visitors to share their experience through social networks spread the news even further. Green Mass Media Strategies Help Book Authors See Green Results Similar to the results that can be seen in product marketing, a mass media strategy can also be effective in book marketing. When Shel Horowitz, a green marketing consultant, and his co-author, Jay Conrad, wanted to promote their book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, they combined traditional media, social marketing, and green guerilla marketing elements to achieve success. The book was published in January 2010; three months later it was number one on Amazon’s environmental list. Using Social Mass Media Strategies to Become President
Perhaps the best example of using today’s social mass media outlets to raise money, generate awareness, and build momentum is the Barack Obama Campaign for president in 2008. Through his campaign’s unprecedented use of social mass media, over 30 million dollars was raised by thousands of individuals and groups that were motivated to work on his behalf. Voters can count on seeing more of this effective use of mass media strategies in the 2012 presidential election campaign as traditional media costs soar and it becomes more difficult than ever before to reach a targeted voting audience. Using Mass Media Strategies to Effect Positive Change in the World Mass media strategies can also play a part in developing global strategic communications.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has effectively used a combination of community mobilization, outreach, and mass media to provide education, reduce violence, and develop initiatives to promote gender equality in developing countries around the world. In the United States, the Family Violence Prevention Fund used a mass media public service announcements strategy to promote the availability of a “Coaching Boys into Men” program that provided sports coaches with a “playbook” on how to talk to their teams about domestic violence. As more mass media opportunities are becoming available to promote products, services, and ideas, more mass media marketers will be needed to help develop and direct these campaigns. You can start building your knowledge and insight into the world of mass media with an online degree in mass communication. This program can give you an understanding of the various mass media strategies that are available today and provide you with knowledge to help you make informed decisions in a world where mass integrated communication can make a massive difference.
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