The professional communication process is used every day by everyone around the world. It makes up the way in which people communicate. This process has four main elements: the message, the audience, the channel, and the potential noise. When you are communicating with someone or a group of people, all four of these things will be present. Within this report, the importance of these particular elements will be discussed and evaluated in detail. After knowing the fundamentals of all four elements, it will then be discussed how they work in authentic situations. In simple terms, it will be discussed how each of these elements works in the professional communication process; meaning how the sender will send a message through a channel to an audience with the potential disruptions of noise. With all this taken into consideration, the Dumb Ways to Die campaign – a campaign that promoted train safety globally – which hit the Internet in November 2012 will be used to encapsulate each element.
Within the professional communication process, the message is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects. Cenere, Gill, Lawson, & Lewis (2015) suggests that within professional communication, the message is the content that is exchanged or delivered from the sender, which controls the entire communication process, (as it is their decision about the channel they choose to use which will best convey the message they are trying to produce, the actual message in which they are producing, and who the message is received by) (p. 54). This message then goes to the receiver via a channel (which will be talked about later) As Cheung (2011) suggests, everyone has an idea to express or a product or service to sell. According to Lehman & DuFrene (2011), most general communication is about informing others, but in a business context, most of the communication is about influencing others. Persuasion or influential communication may take the form of a campaign, such as ‘Dumb Ways to Die – considered the most shared public service announcement to encourage rail safety, which hit the Internet in November 2012 (Dumb Ways to Die – PSA (Dumb Ways to Die), 2013). In this campaign, Metro Trains Melbourne posted a three-minute YouTube video that included animations, a catchy song, a chilling message, as well as the first game app (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 84). Metro Trains Melbourne found that the key message of train and rail safety was one that was challenging to make it interesting to an audience that is known for rebelling against rules and regulations – Generation Y and particularly Generation Z (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 84). This is because they had to influence and project a thought-provoking message to a tough audience, however, the message was dominated by interpretations of the fact that if you engage in high-risk and dangerous behavior around trains, you could die and that death would be pointless and ‘dumb’ (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 87).
In the context of professional communication, an audience is considered the receiver or destination of the projected message, as it is their role to decode messages, which depends on numerous factors – the context of the message, the sender’s knowledge of this context, the sender’s situation at the point of time, and the audience’s beliefs, experiences and cultures (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 86). Hall, S (1973) suggests that there are three separate ways all messages are decoded – “as intended (dominant reading), as partially intended (negotiated reading), or not as intended (oppositional reading)”. Along with the three separate ways of decoding a message, there are three preeminent groups of audiences: primary, secondary, and unintentional. Cenere et al (2015) propose that the person/s in which a message is addressed to is the primary audience, while the secondary audience is those who are exposed to the message which is not targeted towards them (p. 86). In some cases, though, there can also be unintentional audiences which are those that are unintentionally exposed to the message. With these concepts in mind, as stated previously, Cenere et al (2015) suggest that the message within the Dumb Ways to Die campaign was dominated by interpretations of the fact that if you engaged in dangerous behavior in the presence of trains there is the possibility of death and that “death would be ‘dumb’” (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 87). In the campaign, the primary audience was Generation Y and Generation Z. These generations were targeted as they were renowned for rebelling against the rules and regulations, more likely to display dangerous actions in the presence of trains, to be a beginner or reckless drivers ignoring safety boom gates at rail crossings and more likely to jump train tracks rather than use provided rail crossings (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 89). Considering that the campaign became viral very quickly, it can be assumed that the people that were exposed to the campaign through forwarded links would have been the secondary audience. It can also be assumed that the people who were sent the video in its viral outbreak, as well as the people who used trains as a way of transport.
The channel is one of the most vital parts of the communication process. Cenere et al (2015) suggest that “a channel is the type of medium used to transmit a message” and is formed by two broad aspects – verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is where spoken words and written language are used, whereas non-verbal communication is where sounds and body language are used; they are not language-based (p. 55). Non-verbal communication happens more frequently than verbal communication as it takes place every time people interact with each other and is either intentional or unintentional (Gabbott & Hogg, 2000). Along with these two forms of communication, there are two components of communication – visual and non-visual (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 55). Visual components are those that can be seen whereas non-visual are those that cannot. Media richness theory assigns communication channels on a continuum of richness, which defines highly-rich channels as those that handle multiple cues together, such as using feedback, non-verbal actions, and several senses simultaneously (Gale, 2007). An example of this could be a face-to-face conference, whereas a business report is at the lower end of the continuum because of the fact that it involves only the visual senses and slow if any at all, feedback (Gale, 2007). It is evident when looking at the Dumb Ways to Die campaign, that it was considered a highly rich channel of communication. As mentioned earlier, Metro Trains Melbourne found it difficult to create a message that explains the importance of rail safety for an audience that was not stimulated by the area. However, they were able to make the campaign not appear as a safety message. Therefore, people who were not interested in safety might still be interested in the message because of the channel that was used – a YouTube video that included a catchy song and animations; then later a game application (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 84). This was the extensive channel that Metro Trains Melbourne chose to use as they thought it to be the most effective.
According to Cenere et al (2015), there are three types of noise (physical, technical or contextual) which are barriers that distort intended messages, resulting in incorrect interpretation (p. 60). “Noise can be disruptions such as a loud environment making it hard to hear others (physical), not having a high-speed internet connection resulting in conference videos lagging, (technological) or using language that means different things to both parties (contextual)” (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 60). Context allows for effective communication, as well as providing the sender with the knowledge to ensure messages do not create conflict or misinterpretation (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 61). A shared understanding of the intention of the communication is vital for both the sender and receiver to have as it allows for effective communication; they need to share the same context. Cenere et al (2015) suggest that senders and receivers interpret context from other indications around the communication – such as the location, medium, and the message itself (p. 61). Both the sender and receiver of intercultural communication must depend on a shared language in order to enhance effective communication. This usually means that one of the parties will not be using their primitive language (Noise and interference in various types of communication, Nordquist, 2019). The English language is very hard to understand and interpret if it is not a primary spoken language. Many public relations firms have attempted to globalize campaigns and slogans with disastrous consequences (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 62). Receivers who are dominant in another language to that of the sender will often misuse a word or phrase, potentially affecting their interpretation of the message (Nordquist, 2019). This type of “semantic noise” also includes jargon, slang, and professional industry-related vocabulary (Nordquist, 2019). For example, “Pepsi’s ‘Come alive with the Pepsi generation’ campaign translated to ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’ in some countries” (Cenere et al, 2015, p. 62). In the Dumb Ways to Die campaign, there could have been all types of noise occur due to all three types (physical, technological, and contextual) of disruptions.
This report has outlined the professional communication process and it is evident that it is used by every single person every day in every form of communication. It was proved that this process has four main elements; these being the message, the audience, the channel, and the potential distraction of noise. Within this report, the importance of these particular elements was shown through critical discussion. The professional communication process was then explained by using examples from the Dumb Ways to Die campaign, which has undoubtedly and unquestionably enhanced how these four elements of the professional communication process is used in true and actual situations. Therefore, in the summary of this report, it can be proven that the communication process is a vital aspect to professional and effective communication, especially in business settings.
To commence or enhance effective communication the following should be adhered to. The sender should be aware of the message they are producing and keep it clear, in order to have easy interpretation for the audience. The message should be complete with little to no jargon and no unnecessary information, in order to prevent confusion. The context of the audience should be considered before projecting the message, in order to prevent disastrous consequences. The channel of communication should be chosen carefully, ensuring it is appropriate for the message and audience, in order to enhance effectiveness. All forms of potential noise should be taken into consideration, in order to prevent disruptions.
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