Multimodal Holidays – Mapping ProCom Project

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Credit: Matthew Mendonca

MPC students discover the advantages and challenges of using multimodal communication to break through the noise and reach a target audience.

By Jessica Pollock, MPC 2015

This year’s MPC students have just completed the Mapping ProCom Project, where students combine two modes of expression: an analytical research paper on a communication theory, and a poster to visually represent that theory. By integrating theory and practice across two courses, the assignment introduces students to both the advantages and challenges of multimodal communication.

Competition for communication

As we approach the winter holidays, the importance of embracing multimodal communication, or communication that spans more than just one medium or channel, is paramount for so many brands and companies. Perfumeries and sock retailers battle it out for your gift-giving dollar while nonprofit organizations are faced with the continuous challenge of competing for fundraising in the “season of giving”.. The crux of the issue is how to truly connect with people in a world so saturated with continuous streams of multimedia information.

The reality: the days of successful one-dimensional communication campaigns no longer exist.

Nonprofit challenges

This is particularly challenging for nonprofits strapped for cash and resources. Finding a distinct approach to stand out amongst a sea of nonprofit campaigns during the holiday season is daunting. And while many will praise ALS’s recent ice bucket campaign success, others note that it may have caused significant losses for other charities competing for the same share of the pie.

As communication practitioners, it is essential that we understand how to leverage multimodality to communicate strategically and effectively with others. As Matthew Mendonca puts it, “Whether it’s text, image, sound, colour or layout, the materiality and social construct of each mode affects the message.”

One tactic that can promote fundraising efforts is to approach a multi-channel campaign as a storyteller. By articulating its mission in a personally relevant, socially engaging and multimodal way, an organization can effectively break through the noise to reach target audiences successfully.