3080, Reading Responses

Pullman Chapter 2

Pullman begins chapter two by stating the importance of audience analysis when creating an argument. In order to be persuasive one must know who their audience is through extensive research. For example, putting yourself into their shoes will allow you, as the author, to connect with your audience on the same level. An audience is more likely to be persuaded by someone they can trust or someone they consider to be a like-minded individual. Pullman also notes that the best way to begin constructing an argument is by knowing and anticipating how your audience thinks and feels.

Pullman also introduces the idea of a “persona,” which is a “general profile” (p.72) of the audience. A persona allows the author to further connect with his or her audience since a full characterization of an audience is not possible. An interesting concept that Pullman mentions in this chapter is that of persona versus characterization. Upon reading the first chapter, it seemed clear that the audience should be narrowed down as closely as possible to establish a more persuasive argument. However this chapter suggests that creating personas, which are generalized types of audience members, will enhance your understanding of how the audience will react to your argument. Even though it is necessary to precisely research your audience, this generalization of theĀ types of people in your audience is important in the construction of an argument. Characterization is defines as “descriptions of unique individuals.” (pg.72) Creating personas will cause the author to ask many questions about their audience in order to understand exactly who they are presenting to.

Pullman states, “It is a cardinal rule of rhetoric that you know your audience.” (pg.76) Simply knowing your audience automatically puts you on the right path for composing a successful argument. Researching who you will be presenting to requires time and dedication and requires the author to step outside of their comfort zone to relate to their readers better. For example, technology is very important to everyday life, so when companies create new products they advertise them more so towards millennials, however, most technology brands create user friendly products to be inclusive of all ages. In order to achieve successful persuasion it is crucial for the author to have a certain level of understanding when it comes to their audience.


  1. George Kantelis

    Speaking to personas, it’s weird to me how Pullman separates identifying and classifying the audience from stereotyping and archetyping them. It seems to be that characterization is more specific and case-by-case than archetyping, but it seems awfully dangerous to categorize people because it would be very easy to accidentally fall into stereotypes and archetypes, but research on your particular audience is undoubtedly important. Ideally, we as rhetors can speak to the audience in a very direct and personal level, while making it seem like a coincidence and not like we spent hours researching their interests. It’s a fine line to walk, but when done well we can avoid looking like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG_i7oWzTyU –However that’s an extreme/satirical example. The point still stands, though–we want to be knowledgeable but we don’t want the audience to become aware that we are knowledgeable.

  2. Emily Snook

    I also found it interesting when Pullman talked about audience analysis. I’m a journalism major, so it reminded me a lot of confirmation bias. Just as Pullman talks about the higher chance of an audience to trust someone likeminded, confirmation bias centers around peoples’ tendency to seek information from sources that confirm their already established beliefs. He talks about how this and when people are like their audience creates a level of trust. News stations and media companies, in general, do market research to learn their audience. They are trying to connect with their audience, to appeal to them and their needs, and gain their trust more than any other news station or media outlet. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the term “fake news” now, but really the problem lies in that news can’t be news if it isn’t fair and balanced. It becomes a kind of persuasion. People are persuaded to trust their newscasters when those people may have been cast just because they look like their news demographic. People then stay with that news station as their main source of information because they like and agree with the information being delivered to them. It’s one of many sneaky ways to gain ratings rather than serve the public with fair information. I agree with Pullman, and I think audience analysis is crucial to successful rhetoric; however, I think it is also a slippery slope when in the context of producing fair and balanced journalism.

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