Journalism · Social Media

Communication in a Changing World

Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Chief of Staff to the President and Chief Sustainability Officer John Matthews was a broadcast journalism major in 1983. He was given an opportunity writing for a weekly newspaper that opened doors to his career. For six years he worked in the field of journalism in Wisconsin until he concluded the field would be too difficult. He took a role as a policy analyst in the Wisconsin State Senate.

“That was the right door for me to walk through,” Matthews said.

Matthews began writing speeches and managing campaigns. He then became a public affairs consultant after Tommy Thompson picked him up. He led major advertising campaigns, conducted public opinion research and landed into a new role in public relations.

“It all starts and end with excellent communication,” Matthews said. “Pursue it, throw yourself into it and keep walking through those doors.”

Seminal moments can shape generations and change history. This seminal moment is shaping the context of rhetoric in democracies. Millennials are leading the way. They are redefining reality. Matthews said, “It isn’t real until it’s viral.” Social cycles are posted and uploaded, the generation needs documentation for it to become real; life has become virtual.

The future will transition through the phases of persuasion lightening fast. What do politics, your career, buying a car and your love life all have in common? Persuasion.

There are different ways of approaching communication, and there are six steps to persuasion: awareness, understanding, accepting, engagement, loyalty and commitment. One cannot be persuaded without awareness. “If you are building a strategy around awareness…the first thing you need to do is create awareness,” Matthews said. Once understanding is gained acceptance comes to play as investing. Once invested, one becomes engaged and begins an interaction. After becoming engaged, loyalty and exclusivity branch out. Commitment follows with permanency.

Photo Courtesy of Media Law Monitor

Each phase requires a unique medium, messenger and message. Every phase reinforces the prior phase and are foundations for the next. The phases are either moving to the next or walking away. For every one of the six phases a strategy can be created.

Trying to affect public opinion by gathering momentum and commitment around an issue, but also getting people to get out of bed and making the commitment to vote are difficult. Information is rapidly becoming blurred. Social media has become hard, almost impossible, to filter and contain.

“Anything can be reported,” Matthews said. “It is not an environment that is conducive to reality.” Everything has accelerated too fast; the amount of things going viral is remarkable.

Social media challenges us to become more responsible. We have to filter what we say to remain credible. There needs to be an accurate filter. 
“In whatever you are doing you have to be a filter,” Matthews said. “Social media and misuse of it has created a polarized environment.”

Communication constantly changes and society needs to adapt to keep up. Moral issues come into play especially when one is deciding to publish or not to publish information. When using social media everyone needs to be conscious of the fact that once it is published, it is forever.


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