With improvements in technology, media has progressively changed from the paperback era to the digital era. In this scenario, media has increasingly spread information in new and different ways. Video, for example, is a new form of media communication. By using image and music, video is easier to understand than the traditional ways of communication. Due to a changing environment and market demands, independent media was born. People started to create videos online and to get many viewers. When their audience subscribes to their channels they know they are being liked and they will be motivated to make their next video. If this continues, they will become what is called an “internet celebrity”. Internet celebrities fall into many categories: cooking, making funny clips, telling people how to apply makeup, and so on (Abidin, 2018) . People probably watch them because they are tired from their work and they want to relax.
However, Internet celebrities’ power is much greater than most audiences think. They can make their audience laugh, and also can change their ideas. Another way of using video to spread ideas is through public service announcements (PSA). PSAs not only exist on the internet, but also on the televison. They mostly communicate values to their audiences. Unlike the internet celebrity, they only spread positive values to people. Some PSAs are sponsored by the government, in which case they produce whatever the government employs them to shoot. Others are independent non-profit corporations. These people are more likely to shoot PSAs, hoping to receive an award at a film festival, or just out of interest.
Both “Affect and Persuasion Emotional Responses to Public Service Announcements” by James Price Dillard and Eugenia Peck (Dillard & Peck, 2000) and “Avoiding the Boomerang: Testing the Relative Effectiveness of Antidrug Public Service Announcements before a National Campaign” by Martin Fishbein, Kathleen Hall-Jamieson, Eric Zimmer, Ina von Haeften, and Robin Nabi (Fishbein, Hall-Jamieson, Zimmer, von Haeften, & Nabi, 2002) talk about the effectiveness of Public Service Announcements. They both agree that Public Service Announcements have large influence on the public that television stations should publish them carefully. If the PSA does not give a correct direction to the public, it will have a negative effect on the public. The organization or government should be clear about the message they want to transfer to the audience, without any unintended inferences. Otherwise, the public might misunderstand of them, causing huge damage.
I designed my experiment in response to the situation resulting from technological improvements that have transformed the way of people communicate. This experiment is designed to analyze which is more effective in communicating a moral value: internet celebrity videos, or PSA’s. The hypothesis will be set up in the beginning of the experiment: PSAs will be more effective than the Internet celebrities’ videos. While the internet celebrities’ videos are more in the sense of a “public relations” target, the PSAs only focus on how to communicate some value that people need to know.
My method is to find two videos online, one of each type, and test them by letting people watch them and then complete a survey. The first video (https://www.bilibili.com/video/av4277134) came from a famous internet celebrity from China named “Papi酱”, an internet celebrity who is the first person brings short video as a new form of media communication method to China with more than 10 millions of fans on Weibo and bilibili, talks about how women currently are being treated in this society. The second video (https://www.sohu.com/a/160639250_175038) is China Communist Youth League repost video. This is a PSA sponsored by various state-owned enterprises. The two videos have a common theme: women’s rights. Then, the researcher asks for volunteers and randomly chooses eight international students ranging in age from 17 - 21. Seven of them are high school juniors, and one of them is college junior. The nationalities of those eight students are all Chinese. I then assigned them to two groups. The first group has two boys and two girls. They watch the internet celebrity’s video first, and then watch the PSA sponsored by the state-owned enterprise. The second group, which also contains two boys and two girls, will reverse video order. All the students watch the video in the same day, but in different time periods. Although “Papi酱” is already very famous in China, there is still one student not familiar with her. After the students watch the video, they will be asked to answer the survey questions.
3. Result and Discussion
Both videos comment on women’s rights. “Papi酱”’s video uses the method of teasing and posing rhetorical questions in order to emphasize her perspective of women’s rights and the current problems that exist in a society that stereotypes woman, deliberately putting forward questions, and then asking them. The effective use of questions can attract attention and enlighten thinking; it helps to have a clear hierarchy and a compact structure, and to highlight some content so that the video has conflicts and changes. However, PSA uses a different method of expression. The director lets the audience become the ones who are involved in the video. The people in the video will ask questions to the audience, and this will let them feel more engage in the video. The audience will be addressed in first person, and will face all the questions from friends, families and so on. The video uses an inclusive way to structure the whole video, making the whole concept more reasonable and understandable.
The result was not what the researcher expected (See in Raw Data at the end of the article). While the internet celebrity is only making a moral values video, using methods usually found in public relations, the public service announcement is the real one which is really trying to communicate a moral issue to the audience. However, the data shown in previous studies seems to be even. Some of the questions show that even some of the students think the internet celebrity’s video is more convincing than the public service announcement. Internet celebrity videos do have an advantage in their number followers, which is way more than the followers of public service announcements. This means that their number of viewers will automatically be larger than for the PSA. In this case, “Papi酱” is an internet celebrity who is famous by her humor. The audience might never have seen “Papi酱” be serious before, so they also are being serious in this situation. The data was not affected by grouping and watching the videos in different orders. However, among the other students who all knew “Papi酱” before watching the videos, there is one student who does not know this internet celebrity. So the researcher carefully looked at his data and found out he preferred the PSAs. There might be muti-factor to cause this situation happen. It might be that this student just personally prefers PSAs just like other students in the group who knows “Papi酱” before, or the other students are being affected by “Papi酱” already. The researcher asked this particular student again why does he like PSAs more than “Papi酱’’’s video, the answer was simple he feels like “PSAs is more serious than ‘Papi酱’’s video, or ‘Papi酱’’s video is using a humorous way to express the idea of Women Right, it just feels like people cannot be serious about it”. There are some effect of personality effect, but more importantly, other students who know “Papi酱” before also agree with his opinion.
Some factors that might affect the results need to be mentioned. The seven high school students are from the same high school, but from different grade levels, while the other is a college student who did not graduate from the high school that the seven students came from. The students are not watching the video together, but independently at different times, places and moods. But, they all are watched on the same day. All the students are single without any boyfriends or girlfriends. The students from high school have known each other well, but are not closely related, and the college student is not familiar with the high school students.
There are multiple factors that can cause a video being viewed by the audience to be persuasive. The audience might just not be interested, or they may follow the person who made video and just simply watch every single video they have posted. In this experiment, whether the person knew “Papi酱” before or not is a determining factor. The people who did not know “Papi酱” before actually prefer PSAs more than the people who know her before. As the experimental data shows, the influence an internet celebrity has over their audience is great, which actually can diminish the effect on people who view a PSA. Still, we need more research data on the comparison between people who knew “Papi酱” before and those who did not, in different age levels. In this case, the experiment shows that the effect and influence of both internet celebrity and PSA videos are the same. But we still need more data to continue the further experiment. In the reality, more audience will watch “Papi酱”’s video more than PSA’s, but as the experiment results show, the government should rely on internet celebrity more on spreading positive value since most of the internet celebrities have more fans and more numbers of viewers watch their video. However, some of the people cannot accepted the way that the internet celerity to spread positive value. The internet celebrity should be more careful or more serious about all the values that he or she wants to tell in the video, or the government should restrict some of the video’s format.
Special Thanks to Professor Francis Steen to teach me the basic knowledge of media and communication, to Ms. Li for helping me correcting the essay and giving some advice on brainstorming the topic and context, to Mr. Xie helping me to give advice on how to use the correct format and context to write the right APA format essay, and to Mr. White helping me for advice on English writing.
1) Which video impress you more? (a) Papi’s b) China Communist Youth League repost video)
2) Which video you will recommend to your friend to watch? (a) Papi’s b) China Communist Youth League repost video)
3) Which video you will watch it over and over again? (a) Papi’s b) China Communist Youth League repost video)
4) Which video you think is more convincing? (a) Papi’s b) China Communist Youth League repost video)
5) Which video do you think resonates with you and strongly supports video? (a) Papi’s b) China Communist Youth League repost video)
6) Does those two videos change your point of view of Women’s rights? (a) Yes b) No)
7) Does those two videos conflict your point of view of Women’s rights? (a) Yes b) No)
8) Rate Papi’s video (the way of how does it convincing you) (1-poor, 10-strong)
9) Rate China Communist Youth League repost video (the way of how does it convincing you) (1-poor, 10-strong)
10) Does Papi’s video gives you the impression that she is not serious enough and plays with women’s rights? (a) Yes b) No)
11) Does the public service advertisement forwarded by the central Weibo of the communist youth league leave you with the image of marketing advertisement? (a) Yes b) No)
 Fishbein, M., Hall-Jamieson, K., Zimmer, E., von Haeften, I., & Nabi, R. (2002). Avoiding the Boomerang: Testing the Relative Effectiveness of Anti-Drug Public Service Announcements before a National Campaign. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 238-245.