Last term, I took a class on Copywriting and Creative Management (ADWRITE), which focused on training students to strategically persuade people with their ideas through writing. It is arguably one of the most feared courses an Advertising student is bound to take in their stint in La Salle.
During a class activity, we had to rephrase a sentence in as much ways as we can without it losing its meaning. Almost everyone in the class had to write their own version of the sentence, and soon the board was filled with several interpretations of “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” As soon as the last person finished writing his version, my professor began to emphasize that there are many ways to tell a story. “You have to remember that your message is only as good as to how you convey it,” and with that my professor dismissed our class.
I carried this thought with me as I started walking to my next class, Advertising Visualization and Art Direction (ADVISUA). As we were walking from LS to Goks, the buzz surrounding the Women’s Month poster which detailed the university dress code began to come alive. It was published by the University Student Government (USG) to specifically inform guests who are not part of the Lasallian community that university rules will still apply for the duration of the program. The said poster received so much flak online from both members of the Lasallian community and the public. Mainstream media organizations even ran the story and tweets with the hashtag #StripTheDresscodeDLSU began to surface. It quickly became a publicity nightmare.
The Office of the Vice President for External Affairs (OVPEA) received a week-long suspension at the start of this term for the poster fiasco. While we can argue that the USG was simply trying to implement outdated university dress code policies, I do not think it is proper to promote an event aimed to empower women with a Facebook post dedicated to the detailed dresscode policy of the university. Again, the “message is only as good as to how you convey it.” There is a better way to present the fact that the university has policies and will continue to implement them for the duration of the program.
The activity we had for my ADVISUA class that same day was to translate brand identities into creative visuals. We were all put into pairs and we had to create mood boards, come up with big ideas, and produce collaterals for our partner’s brand. The challenge was to get the message and soul of the brand into a cohesive design. Some of the questions asked during consultation period were “How can you emphasize your message more into this poster?” and “How can you be sure that the message will be received by your market just as how you intended?”
Communication is a two-way street, we learn this early on and is repeated in a lot of our courses. While the receiver of the message may have cognitive biases that may affect their perception of an idea, it is highly emphasized that the sender has the responsibility of making sure that the message will not be misinterpreted. Ideas that initiate conversation are not as bad as we think they are. The beauty of communication is the creation of a dialogue, of a conversation surrounding a specific idea that can branch on to other sides of the spectrum. The incident with the Women’s Month poster started a conversation, but at a cost.
The real challenge is being able to say your piece clearly and cohesively. This is one of the biggest frustrations for those who study and work in the field of media and communications. That being said, I believe I myself am still in the process of learning how to properly communicate my own ideas and interpret others’ as well. It is not only to be learned by those who work in the said field, but it is a life skill all must learn. And the great thing about communication is you learn a thing or two about it everyday.