Conference Presentations

Weed, A.J. (2015, August).  A Beginner’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse:
Gender and Age Differences in Narrative Engagement Between Text-Only and Visual Entertainment Education. To be p
resented at the AEJMC annual convention, San Francisco, CA.

Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a multimedia awareness campaign in 2011 to promote emergency preparedness to young audiences. At the heart of the campaign was Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, an example of narrative persuasion implemented as a comic book. The core persuasive message of the campaign was preparation for a zombie apocalypse through development of a personal emergency plan and creation of an emergency preparedness kit. As a form of narrative persuasion, comic books possibly go a step further than text-only stories by providing rich storytelling combined with vivid visual images. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of presentation mode (text-only or comic book) on key outcomes of narrative persuasion and engagement including: a) strength of belief for the persuasive messages embedded in Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, b) participant’s perceived relevance of the story, c) character identification and experience taking, and d) counter-arguments to the persuasive messages.



Weed, A.J. (2015, March).  Engaging consumers with advergames: Case study of Chipotle’s The ScarecrowPresented at the MBAA International Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Abstract: In 2013, fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle launched the iPhone mobile game The Scarecrow.  The game allowed consumers to interact with different game levels that represented the company’s core values including the use of ingredients from small farms, free-range raising of livestock without the use of antibiotics, quick service, and a made-to-order philosophy of food production.  Following Chipotle’s non-traditional path of advertising using online and social media, the game featured a promotional trailer available on YouTube and was additionally distributed with the documentary GMO OMG.  The Scarecrow illustrates a growing trend of companies using non-traditional methods of advertising to engage consumers in interactive messages to build word-of-mouth promotion and, ultimately, brand loyalty.

Weed, A.J. (2015, March).  An un-happy meal?: The rise and fall of #mcdstories.  Presented at the MBAA International Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Abstract: In 2012, fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s launched the promoted tweet using the hashtag #mcdstories to engage consumers in shared storytelling about the McDonald’s experience.  The hashtag was intended as a talking point to generate positive consumer sentiment on Twitter, but the quickly spiraled into a “bashtag” that focused on negative consumer and employee experiences at McDonald’s.  Tweets ranged from discussion of food poisoning to worms being found in sandwiches.  In response, McDonald’s management pulled the promoted tweet within two hours of the promotion launch.

Weed, A.J. (2014, November). Picture This:  Privacy Expectations and Practices Between Gender and Age Groups in Picture Sharing on Facebook.  Presented at the NCA annual convention, Chicago, IL.

Abstract:  Ethical issues of privacy tied to Facebook use have be a topic of previous research almost since the inception of the social network site (SNS). In the past, most discussions of privacy on Facebook were limited to data mining practices used by company to facilitate its advertising program, or users’ general knowledge of privacy protecting tools available for their Facebook account. As picture sharing becomes more ingrained into the daily habits of Facebook users, it is important to examine the ethical issues surrounding this specific element of the Facebook “experience.” The importance of picture sharing among Facebook’s users is evidenced not only by photo synching but also because of the Facebook’s acquisition of mobile picture posting application Instagram. In response to the growing prominence of picture sharing on Facebook, there is a need to examine the privacy issues of picture sharing among users of the SNS.

This research examines three main issues surrounding privacy and picture sharing on Facebook. First, this research examines Facebook user’s pictures sharing practices and motivations to share pictures with their friends network. Second, this research will analyze how important privacy is to Facebook users when sharing pictures. This analysis is necessary because the importance of privacy may not carry equal weight when considering it in personal terms or in terms of others. Finally, this research will analyze what privacy protection measures Facebook users have implemented to protect personal privacy, and if Facebook users engage in practices that potentially violate the privacy of others.

Seifert, J. and Weed, A. (2014, October). Tell Me, But Don’t Tell Me: An Exploratory Study of Mandatory Health Campaigns on Campus.  Paper to be presented at the OCA annual conference, Columbus, OH.

Abstract:  In light of rising concerns about students’ safety on college campuses, this study sought to understand how students perceive compulsory campaigns enacted by their university targeting risky health behaviors. Guided by both the elaboration likelihood model and communication persuasion model, interview questions were posed to 24 university students participating in one of five hour-long focus groups. Analysis revealed that many students report experiencing a relevancy by proxy phenomena in which health topics could garner relevance through existing interpersonal relationships. In addition, although students thought universities were responsible for conducting campaigns targeting risky health behaviors, students expressed resistance to persuasive messages sent from the university. Research of this nature could contribute greatly to our understanding of the college student population and provide structure to a sentiment best described as “tell me, but don’t tell me” – an attitude which expresses need, desire and resistance to university health communications.

AEJMC_MeDahlstromWeed, A.J. and Beauchamp, A. (2014, August). Persuasive storytelling in the interactive age: A theoretical model explaining interactivity effects in narrative persuasion.  Presented at the AEJMC annual convention, Montréal, Canada.

Top Three Student Paper Award (Communication Theory & Methodology Division)

Abstract:  The Narrative Persuasion Interactivity (NPI) model  posits that interactive narratives will heighten the symbiotic relationship between character and audience member through promotion of character identification and experience taking to “become the character.” By integrating the existing literature with paradigms that include interactivity, we may expand the knowledge of narrative persuasion and its cognitive constructs including character identification, experience taking, spiraling reinforcement, and, ultimately, attitude change. Incorporating research across media gives the NPI model an advantage to explain all types of media persuasion, as well as generate processes that are essential to any narrative message.  As much of this research is spread across the fields of communication, psychology, literature and computer science, the NPI model has cross-field implications that can be utilized and integrated across separate avenues of research.



Jain, P., Weed, A.J., and Walck, P.E. (2014, August). Connecting with Celebrities on Twitter and Facebook: A Narrative Processing Approach. Presented at the AEJMC annual convention, Montréal, Canada.

Abstract:  Almost three quarters of the adults in the US use some social networking site with Facebook and Twitter being the dominant networks.  Therefore, most organizations, including major broadcasters in the US, now employ some form of social networking platform to stay connected to their consumers. Television networks, for example, utilize social media sites for publicity, to provide information and to enhance engagement among other things.  Spikes in Twitter activity correspond with the show airtimes and drama based programming seem to invoke more user engagement than other genres such as reality shows.  While there is research that examines TV networks’ use of Twitter as a tool for audience engagement and viewers’ use of news-related information on various social media platforms, there is little information on motivations behind audience engagement with entertainment shows on social media.  Utilizing survey methodology and uses and gratification as a theoretical framework this study examines the influence of narrative involvement on message recipient’s subsequent engagement with the show and its characters on a social media platforms Facebook and Twitter after the viewing experience has ended.

Weed, A.J. (2014, March). As the World Churns:  Food Network and Butter Wrapper Protest to Save Paula Deen. Presented at the MBAA International Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Abstract: Butter wrappers.  Hundreds of them.  Flat, folded, and in origami shapes.  Each envelope addressed to the Food Network that you open contains more butter wrappers.  You knew what it was about.  Fans of the Butter Queen, Paula Deen, were protesting to bring her back to the network.  You knew her fans were devoted but you never expected this.  Months have passed since Food Network announced it wouldn’t renew Deen’s contract for her three shows, including top rated Paula’s Best Dishes, but the wrappers keep coming.  As a public relations coordinator for the Food Network, you knew that each wrapper represented a viewer lost, and the network lost more than 10 percent of it’s target 18-49 year-old audience during the midday and 13 percent in primetime during the 3rd quarter rating period of 2013.  Was the rating drop a result of Deen’s fans boycotting the network?  What could the public relations team do to encourage her passionate fans to embrace Food Network once more?

The Ray Browne ConferenceWeed, A.J. (2014, February). Occupy the Agenda: Effects of NewspaperCoverage on the Public’s Perception of Occupy Wall Street. Paper presented at The Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies, Bowling Green, OH.

Abstract:  Agenda-setting in news organizations occurs through a series of choices that determine what information reaches the public, and determines its level of importance by several elements of its appearance in the news, including page placement, story length, use of photos or graphics, and the positive or negative positioning of events.  While news organizations may promote neutrality in reporting stories, the previously mentioned elements effect the public’s perception of importance, and possibly create attitudinal changes that may not have occurred without the influence of the news organization. To examine the effects of agenda-setting as an influencer of the public’s perception of importance and potential in attitudinal change, this study examined newspaper coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in the fall of 2011.  To illustrate the ability of the media to influence public perception of importance and attitudinal change, this study compared the results of two USA Today/Gallup polls, conducted in October and November of 2011, with a content analysis of newspaper reports about Occupy Wall Street movement published by 15 of the highest-circulation newspapers in the United States.  The results of this study confirmed that agenda-setting influence of the media does affect the public’s perception of issue/event importance, and may act an influencer in attitudinal change.

Weed, A.J. (2013, August). The activist network: How Wikipedia used Facebook posts and shares to gain support for the SOPA/PIPA blackout. Paper presented at AEJMC annual convention, Washington, D.C.

Abstract:  One of Facebook’s many features is its capability to share posts among “friend” networks. This capability allows messages to be shared quickly and broadly. Each time a post is shared, it is presented to a new network of “friends”, who then have the option to share the post with their own network of friends, and so on. Successful framing has the potential to create enough support from message receivers that the message will continue to be passed on, in a snowball effect, throughout the social network. The purpose of this paper is to explore the theoretical framework of agenda-building to examine how framed messages from Wikipedia disseminated through Facebook during the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)/Protect IP Act (PIPA) Blackout campaign. This study utilized a content analysis of Facebook shares of Wikipedia posts from the sample time period January 16 through 19, 2012. This research examined three aspects of framing in Facebook shares to determine: (a) if framed messages affect the likelihood of sharing with comments among 1st level responders; (b) what types of user-generated content 1st level respondents will attach in their comments; and (c) does the 1st level share lead to significant 2nd level sharing. Results of this study may guide future use of framing levels and devices to encourage message dissemination throughout the Facebook network.

Weed, A.J. (2013, July). Don’t let the zombies get you: How the CDC used novelty to reach new audiences. Paper presented at the Society for Case Research Summer Writer’s Workshop, Danbury, CT.

Abstract:  Beginning in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) implemented a new campaign to promote emergency preparedness.  Traditional information and persuasive messages about this topic typically focused on natural disasters, biological threats, or even an electronic blackout.  This new campaign presented an entirely new focus—preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. The campaign utilized traditional and online media to distribute information about creating an emergency plan and preparing an emergency kit, in or to survive if a zombie outbreak did occur.  While the idea may be seem far-fetched, the novelty (newness) of using zombies in traditional emergency preparedness messages attracted attention from the 35-years and younger demographic, a demographic that is usually hard to reach for the CDC.  Speaking about the CDC’s decision to promote this campaign, Dr. Ali Khan, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response for the CDC said, “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

Weed, A.J. (2013, March). “We’re Trekkers, too”: How customer service failure became an internet meme. Paper presented at the MBAA International Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Abstract:  In September of 2011, Stewart, a television and film actor best known for his role as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, wrote on his Twitter feed, “All I wanted to do was set up a new account with @TWCable_NYC but 36hrs later I’ve lost the will to live.”  @TWCable_NYC is the Twitter handle for Time Warner Cable, Inc’s (TWC) New York City office.  What ensued after the tweet was more than 1,800 retweets made by followers of @SirPatStew, including other Star Trek cast members William Shatner and LeVar Burton, telling of their similar bad experiences with TWC.   Jeff Simmerson, director of digital communication for TWC, must decide if his company’s social customer service policy is flawed and whether there was a way the social customer service rep could have responded differently that would have lead to a positive resolution with Stewart.

Weed, A.J. and Davis, C. (2012, July). American Apparel and the “XLent” contest. Paper presented at the Society for Case Research Summer Writer’s Workshop, Springfield, MO.

Scholarship Award for Top Student Paper

Abstract:  In 2011, American Apparel conducted an online contest titled “The Next Big Thing.”  An open call was made for women who needed a “little extra wiggle room” to become the company’s next “XLent” model.  The top contestant would become models for the new XL line of clothing.  Nancy Upton, a college student from Texas, posted a satirical entry into the content. Upton counter-framed the typical American Apparel advertisement to include images of her eating a rotisserie chicken in a swimming pool and dousing herself with chocolate syrup while wearing only her underwear.  She won the contest by popular vote, but American Apparel rejected her entry in an open letter to Upton and the media.  The company charged that Upton did not “truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out.  Upton posted the open letter on her blog, which chronicled her experience with the XL modeling contest.  Within 24 hours, 30 news organizations and online magazines reported the open letter, which was re-tweeted more than 1,600 times.   The story reached national news status with reports broadcasted by ABC, CBS, CNN, and the Today Show.

Srivastava, J. and Weed, A.J. (2012, June). “Friending to fight cancer: The nature of content and social support of the American Cancer Society fan page on facebook. Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Health & Crisis Communication, Eskisehir, Turkey.

Abstract:  American Cancer Society was one of the pioneer health related organizations to create a facebook fan page and has been using a wide range of content strategies on the fan page since its inception. An evaluation of these strategies on the basis of user feedback received by posts in form of “likes, “comments” , and “shares” may help us understand the effectiveness of different strategies on health related social networking websites. This may help us develop insights that may be used by other health organizations to form their social networking strategies. More specifically, the objective of this study is to analyze the role of American Cancer Society’s Facebook fan page as a platform for promoting events and causes, as a platform for dissemination of health information, and, as a platform facilitating online community building among cancer patients/survivors and caregivers.

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