Posted by: emilywil | March 30, 2009

Chapter 9: Public Opinion and Persuasion

In chapter 9 we learned about persuasion and public opinion within the field of public relations. 

Public Opinion is “the sum of individual opinions on an issue affecting those individuals.”  This is the most common definition of public opinion.

People usually follow behind an opinion leader who is someone who is usually interested in a subject or issue, better informed on an issue than the average person, avid consumers of mass media, early adopters of new ideas, and good organizers who can get other people to take action.

Persuasion is used in public relations for:

  1. change or neutralize hostile opinions
  2. crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes
  3. conserve favorable opinions

Content and Structure of a message to make them more persuasive is addressed by (1) drama, (2) statistics, (3) surveys, (4) examples, (5) testimonials, (6) mass media endorsements, (7) emotional appeals.

Some tips for persuasive speaking is to develop audience answers to “yes” to get them in the mode of saying yes, offer structured choices, seek partial commitment, and ask more but settle for less. 

There are many ethics that go along with persuading people, some of those include:

  1. Do NOT use false, fabricated, misrepresented, distorted, or irrelevant evidence to support arguments or claims.
  2. Do not intentionally use specious, unsupported, or illogical reasoning
  3. Do not represent yourself as informed or as an “expert” on a subject when you are not.
  4. Do not advocate something in which you do not believe yourself
  5. Do not pretend certainty when tentativeness and degrees of probability would be more accurate.

All this information is from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics: 9th Ed. By: Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron

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