Public Opinion and Persuasion

29 Oct

Chapter 9 Reading Notes COMM 2322

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Types of Leaders

  1. Formal opinion leaders – elected officials, presidents of companies or heads of membership groups.
  2. Power leaders – people in formal leadership positions.
  3. Informal opinion leaders – those who have clout with peers because of some special characteristic. Exert peer pressure for others to go along with it.

The Flow of Opinion

  • Two-step flow theory – public opinion is really formed by the views of people who have taken the time to sift information, evaluate it and form an opinion that is expressed to others.
  • Multiple-step flow model – opinion makers derive large amounts of information from the mass media and other sources and then share that information with people known as the” attentive public”.
  • N-step theory – individuals are seldom influenced by one opinion leader but interact with different leaders around one issue.

The Role of Mass Media

Mass Media – means information from a public relations source can be efficiently and rapidly disseminated to literally millions of people.

  1. Agenda-Setting Theory – (Max McCombs and Don Shaw) contends that media content sets the agenda for public discussion.
  2. Media Dependency Theory – people have no prior knowledge to issue so the mass media tells them what to think.
  3. Framing Theory – related to how journalists selected themes, facts, treatments and even words.
  4. Conflict Theory – (Morton Deutsch and Peter Colman) constructive process that builds towards consensus.

Uses of Persuasion

  • Change or neutralize hostile opinions.
  • Crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes.
  • Conserve favorable opinions.

Factors in Persuasive Communications

  1. Audience analysis
  2. Source credibility
  3. Appeal to self-interest
  4. Clarity of message
  5. Timing and context
  6. Audience participation
  7. Suggestions for actions
  8. Content and structure of messages
  9. Persuasive speaking

Propaganda – political or ideogical persuasion, with emphasis on deceit and duplicity.

Ethics of Persuasion – publics know that we are trying to promote a client or organization and interest of that client or organization will be well served by false or misleading information.


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