1. Persuasive Request: Junk Food Props Up School Budget
If I start to get huge, then, yeah, Ill cut out the chips and Coke, says 17-year-old Nicole ONeill, as she munches sour cream-and-
onion potato chips and downs a cold can of soda fresh from the snack machine. Most days her lunch comes from a vending machine.
The trim high school junior, however, isnt too concerned about how junk food affects her weight or overall health. Although she
admits she would prefer a granola bar or fruit, few healthy selections are available in school vending machines.
Vending machines loaded with soft drinks and snacks are increasingly under attack in schools and lunchrooms. Some school boards,
however, see them as cash cows. In Gresham, Oregon, the school district is considering a lucrative soft drink contract. If it signs an
exclusive 12-year agreement with Coca-Cola to allow vending machines at Gresham High School, the school district will receive
$75,000 up front. Then it will receive an additional $75,000 three years later. Commission sales on the 75-cent drinks will bring in an
additional $322,000 over the 12-year contract provided the school sells 67,000 cans and bottles every year. In the past the vending
machine payments supported student body activities such as sending students to choir concerts and paying athletic participation
fees. Vending machine funds also paid for an electronic reader board in front of the school and a sound system for the gym. The latest
contract would bring in $150,000, which is already earmarked for new artificial turf on the school athletic field.
Coca-Colas vending machines would dispense soft drinks, Fruitopia, Minute Maid juices, Powerade, and Dasani water. The hands-
down student favorite, of course, is calorie-laden Coke. Because increasing childhood and adolescent obesity across the nation is a
major health concern, the Gresham Parent Teacher Association (PTA) decided to oppose the contract. The PTA realizes that the school
board is heavily influenced by the income generated from the Coca-Cola contract. It wonders what other school districts are doing
about their vending machine contracts.
As part of a PTA committee, you have been given the task of researching and composing a persuasive but concise (no
more than one page) letter addressed to the school board. Use the Web or databases to locate articles that might help you develop
arguments, alternatives, and counterarguments. Meet with your team to discuss your findings. Then, individually or as a group, write
a letter to the Board of Directors, Gresham-Barlow School District, P.O. Box 310, Gresham, OR 97033.
2. Persuasive Organizational Message Flowing Upward: Hey, Boss, I Have an Idea
In your own work or organization experience, identify a problem for which you have a solution. Should a procedure be altered to
improve performance? Would a new or different piece of equipment or software help you perform your work better? Could some
tasks be scheduled more efficiently? Are employees being used most effectively? Could customers be better served by changing
something? Do you want to work other hours or perform other tasks? Do you deserve a promotion? Do you have a suggestion to
Once you have identified a situation requiring persuasion, write a memo or an e-mail to your boss or organization head.
Use actual names and facts. Employ the concepts and techniques in this chapter to help you convince your boss that your idea should
prevail. Include concrete examples, anticipate objections, emphasize reader benefits, and end with a specific action to be taken.