Establishing online presence in a rural business: Creating congruency between Internet strategies and brand to enhance audience reach

Brittany Mlynek

Donna Weimer (Thesis Advisor) 


Online communities have blossomed into what they are today through the use of various Internet strategies. With this creative project, I design a strong online marketing presence for a small, rural business, which I implement and assess. This project includes research on existing social media business plans, target market research of rural geographic areas, branding strategies, and the differences between an online and offline presence. To achieve the highest reach possible, I analyze the demographics and contextual constraints of the audience for this small business, in conjunction with their mission statement, to determine the best attainable strategy. Working with the company owner, I use the details and values of the company in order to create an online marketing plan that will produce the highest success rate of reach and engagement. To determine effective congruency with the business’ offline content, I analyze types of online media.  The online marketing plan caters to a specific demographic allowing for strong communication between the company’s’ online presence and the target audience. Congruency is established between the offline and online presence of the small rural business. The implementation of these Internet strategies calls for three online developments: social media, a website, and the use of video to reach the target audience. I argue that the online engagement through the use of a unique brand, online and offline, will create cohesive communication between customers and the business. To assess this project, success is determined by the analytics of engagement shown through social media, website traffic, and media views. Constraints in measuring success include local economy, seasonal demographics, and limited time of the project.


Beautiful Suffering: Structuring our vision of refugees as the Other through winning Pulitzer Prize images in 2016

Diana Langer

Intercultural Communication & Journalism and PR


Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA & Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen, Deutschland


It became part of our everyday life to see people suffer on their way to a better life and occasionally one of these pictures becomes iconic and burns into our collective memory. In 2015, 21 million people were categorized as refugees all over the world (UNICEF 2016) and the topic is covered more by the media. But pictures do not show the refugee’s situation in an objective way. Even though the people in the images suffer, these pictures inhabit beauty. I argue that beauty is used stylistically to arouse our attention, without the consideration of cultural symbolism in Othering these refugees, for example. Within my thesis, I concentrate on the formal elements of those images. On the one hand, I look at the composition and design of images, which include the frame, focus, point of view and color. On the other hand, I concentrate on the dramatic elements of characters, setting, theme and symbolism in the image, which inhabit stereotypes of race and gender. As my object of inquiry, I examine the Pulitzer Prize winner of the year 2016 in the category breaking news photography. I chose a random sample of 10 images from the 35 winning photographs by the staff of Reuters and of The New York Times. I analyze these 10 images to know what makes thesis pictures memorable or even beautiful, even as they reveal suffering and the Othering of the refugee. I argue that the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning images frame refugees through aesthetically beautiful suffering as the “Other” that implicitly creates distance along with explicit sympathy.


Understanding Why: A Creative Analysis of Four
Social Media Content Producers and How Company
Values Distinguish Unique Video Style and Tone

Morgan Horell

CM 330: Professional Presentations

Honors Thesis Research Summary

Dr. Donna Weimer, Thesis Advisor


Why? It is the underlying question that drives a company’s creative choices. Answering “Why” gives an insight into what they produce and how they choose to produce it.  My research seeks to understand the “why” of four social media content producers: attn:, Buzzfeed,, and SoulPancake.  Each of these companies has multiple viral videos online and reflects a shift in video production aimed at social media based content with high audience engagement. Using a generative criticism comprised of Neo-Aristotelian criticism and film theory, I analyze how company brand identity evolves into a unique visual style guide for online video.  I argue that in video production, the question of “why” heavily influences the unique style and tone of a video, shaping the specific combinations of visual technical elements executed. Through analysis of one representative video from four online companies to asses their unique rhetorical situation in terms of rhetor, message, and audience, which informs their visual stylistic choices. I then recreate each of the company’s video styles and tones in four of my own videos.  In doing so, I was able to learn how much time goes into these short social media videos that we watch everyday online. Even for a 50 second video, I need to execute every step of the pre- production, production, and post-production stages and always keep in mind what kind of choices that particularly company would make. This critical and creative analysis explores the unique features used to distinguish a company from its competitors in a field that is rapidly growing as our culture becomes more saturated with video content on social media.


The shared rhetorical vision across 2 fashion films: Diffusion of high fashion values across classes

Kien Le

One of the demands for freedom of expression asks for the right to dress as you choose. Clothing represents one’s financial well-being, and in some cultures also represents social status. What people choose to wear is a symbolic message and what we today call fashion. Fashion, in its utmost definition, means change. No matter how fast the culture evolves, clothing companies must keep up with customers and their lifestyles through innovative products, which must be  up-to-date and desirable.  Early in 2010s fashion marketing witnessed a change from magazines to social media platforms and a consequent change of marketing methods. Now brands produce their own short films. The longer duration of films replaced the traditional approaches of still photography and short ads. These new marketing techniques have also been regarded as novel and effective. The purpose of this study is to explore this transformation through a comparison of 2 fashion films--one designed for a haute couture audience and the other a middle class audience. Using Bormann’s fantasy theme analysis, I argue that Chanel’s short film The Return and H&M’s short film Come Together create a shared rhetorical vision on the shared aesthetic taste for high fashion and art. This study provides insight into the diffusion of high-fashion values into middle-class fashion film.

The artifacts analyzed as representative examples of this shared rhetorical vision are by Karl Lagerfield and Wes Anderson respectively. Karl Lagerfield the house’s creative director released the short film The Return in May 8, 2013, for the French fashion house Chanel.  Wes Anderson directed the short film Come Together in November 2016, which was the fast clothing company H&M’s first release. In order to understand the rhetors’ constraints I research the cultural ideology of each distinct audience. While both films cultivated the use of celebrities, Chanel emphasizes its own brand individuality and H&M focuses on emotional appeals. Nevertheless, despite the differences in costs and prestige, both brands treat their audience not as consumers of a product but spectators of a highly aestheticized narrative of consumption. 


Understanding Why: A Creative Analysis of Four Social Media Content Producers
And How Company Values Distinguish Their Unique Video Style and Tone

Morgan Horell

Dr. Donna Weimer (These Advisor)



Why? It is the underlying question that drives a company’s creative choices. Answering the “Why” lays the groundwork for what they produce and how they produce it. I argue that in video production, this question of “why” heavily influences the unique style and tone of a video shaping the specific combinations of visual technical elements executed. In this research, I analyze one representative video of four major social media video content producers: attn:, Buzzfeed, Cut, and SoulPancake. Each of these companies has multiple viral videos online and reflects a shift in video production aimed at social media based content with high audience engagement.  Looking at the background and mission statement of each company, I work to understand the “why” driving their choices and unique goals in creating content. This analysis also includes understanding a company’s target audience and how that audience interacts with the video message on social media sites. In addition, I analyze the unique stylistic and tonal qualities of each video by creating a style guide for each company. The guide describes the distinctive combinations of camera angles, lighting styles, editing techniques, music choices, etc. that visually construct the style and tone of the video.  Can the systematic understanding of the company’s answer to  “why” effectively help me recreate their video style and tone in videos of my own creation? Using the company background research and style guides created, I implement the filmic techniques discussed to recreate the company style and tones in four distinct videos. This research and creative analysis explore the unique features that are used to distinguish a company from its competitors in a field that is rapidly growing as our culture becomes more saturated with video content through social media.


Perpetuating the Problems of Porn Stars and Prostitutes: Explaining and Analyzing the Stigma toward Sex Workers

Bridget Rea


Female sex workers have long been considered the most stigmatized group in the world of work. This essay aims to explain and analyze the reason behind and the implications of sex work as they pertain to women, work, and identity. This essay uses primary research in the form of open-ended survey responses and primary research in the form of video, documentary, and journal and news articles to examine the effect of stigma on women who are in the sex industry, specifically in consensual pornography and consensual prostitution. Various communication scholars are used who have written relevant works on what it means to be a woman, how identity is formed, and what it means for work and sex to meet in American society. The essay concludes that the marriage of sex and work is the main issue of the stigmatization of sex work, and that the language used toward sex workers and the appropriation of those terms in a larger society demeans and undermines the sex workers who face real issues in their lives. Some of these issues include criminalization of their work, poor access to healthcare, and mis- and under-representation in the judicial system. Other frames of research are suggested to further understand sex work and sex workers, specifically porn actors, whose field tends to be inaccessible. By understanding the stigma associated with sex workers, progressing waves of feminism and human rights activism can help mitigate the negativity toward sex workers and see them as the human beings they are, worthy of justice and compassion.