Demographics and Psychographics Research Study

RIP Project

By now, you all have done some research on the specific audience you want to reach in your RIP project (demographics and psychographics), as well as the context that will influence the significance of your message and the way your audience responds.
However, understanding audience and choosing rhetorical strategies to reach that audience is not just a matter of who they are and what they care about. The next step is to consider your relationship (as rhetor) to your audience.

Types of Audiences


First, let’s consider different types of audiences and how they relate to rhetorical purpose and strategy:
• Sympathetic audience: an audience that is familiar with your message and agrees with you. Boring for the RIP because a sympathetic audience is low-hanging fruit; while part of your audience will undoubtedly agree with you, your main challenge is persuading an audience that you’re in some kind of tension with.
• Novice audience: an audience that doesn’t know much about what you have to say, isn’t familiar with background information, and so on. A major rhetorical challenge with this kind of audience is conveying essential information (such that your message becomes persuasive), without overwhelming your audience with unnecessary details.
• Informed, but skeptical audience: an audience that understands your message, but isn’t necessarily invested in what you have to say. A major rhetorical challenge with this type of audience is building usefully on what your audience already knows and maintaining your credibility.
• Hostile audience: an audience that has deeply entrenched views in opposition to your message and/or point of view. This type of audience is perhaps the hardest to reach, but potentially the most rewarding. Major rhetorical challenges include maintaining your credibility and establishing trust; addressing and refuting counterarguments in a fair and balanced way.
• Expert/Business/Activist audience: an audience that is very familiar with the context of your message and wants to know how your message will affect them and/or that context. The stakes of this desire to know can vary widely: To buy/invest/produce, or not? To adopt a specific social/political/economic policy, or not? This type of audience may overlap with the other types of audiences listed above.

Class Discussion:

How can different rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos, pathos) affect these audiences differently?

Guiding Questions for Five-Minute Freewrite:


Write a brief presentation of your RIP Draft #1, focusing on your intended/unintended audiences and rhetorical strategies for reaching these audiences.
• What audience(s) are you trying to reach? Are there any unintended audiences?
• What is the source of tension between you and your audience(s)? In other words, what’s your relationship to each audience? Be as specific as possible.
• What strategies are you using to overcome the tension between yourself and your audience? Categorize these strategies as predominantly logos-, ethos-, or pathos-oriented (some of your rhetorical strategies may bridge these different categories—note which ones).

Group Workshop:


Then, take turns reviewing the effectiveness of each writer’s rhetorical strategies:


1) Writer: briefly (2-3 minute) frame your project’s rhetorical strategies by reading your mini-presentations. Take notes on the subsequent discussion.
2) Reviewers: As the Writer describes (and a few minutes afterward, as needed), read/browse the RIP project. Make notes as needed in each draft.
3) Discuss the following (5-10 minutes each):
• Does the writer’s understanding of audience fit with what you see in the project? Are there any other intended or unintended audiences that the writer has not yet considered?
• How effective are the writer’s rhetorical strategies for reaching these audiences? Which ones are working? Which strategies are not working and why do you think so?
• What suggestions do you have for making these weak rhetorical strategies more effective? What suggestions do you have for incorporating additional rhetorical strategies?

After your group completes the workshop, return to your RIP draft and begin revising.
You may also choose to work on your RIP working bibliography (writing annotations, conducting additional research).
You may also choose to begin drafting your RIP Companion Essay.

Leave a Reply