Credibility

Sometimes, a good idea gets ignored because people do not believe the idea is good. Often times ideas that receive attention, however, are ideas that come from creditable sources but are not great ideas (just turn on the television and look at the plethora of un-inspiring commercials from big businesses).

People sometimes assume that an idea can only be credible if it comes from a well established source or if it receives the endorsement of a well established source. However, there are a few ways to maintain an idea’s credibility without coming from a source already endowed with credibility.

  1. Use convincing details. Specific details that are easy to remember will help your idea gain credibility. Find a way to make those specific details concrete.
  2. Make your details tangible. 5,000 nuclear warheads is an abstract concept to most that will not stick. 5,000 BBs dropping on the ground all at once will, even if your audience doesn’t remember 5,000 specifically.
  3. Think of Frank Sinatra’s famous lyric: “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” Pick the most difficult situation that your idea will encounter and show that your idea can succeed there.
  4. Allow your audience to test your idea. Give them a way to sample your idea at no risk to them.

‘Above the Influence’ commercials, which are designed to keep teenagers and young adults off drugs, have almost no credibility. Target audience members either don’t recall the ads whenever they air, or they don’t pay attention to them.

But consider this: An ad shot by a person using a hand held camera who attends a party where drugs are being consumed. The attendee walks into a back room where two or three teenagers are preparing to inject themselves with methamphetamine. The camera records one of the teenagers injecting himself… only for the teenager to overdose. It’s a way to present a convincing, tangable example that would make a seasoned drug-dealer shutter. The idea is controversial, and would involve investigation as to how to create the ad in an ethical manner, but it would undoubtedly convince most teenagers to stay away from drugs… or at least meth.

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About Bryan Saxton:

I am a Journalism Student at the University of Oregon and the Public Relation's Officer for the International Student Association.
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