Erika Brewington’s Blog



Reading Notes: Chapter 9

Notes from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics 9th Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron

Public Opinion and Persuasion

  • Public opinion is the sum of individual opinions on an issue affecting those individuals
  • Opinion leaders are people who are knowledgeable and articulate about specific issues; they are described as:
  1. highly interested in a subject or issue
  2. better informed on an issue than the average person
  3. avid consumers of mass media
  4. early adopters of new ideas
  5. good organizers who can get other people to take action
  • Opinion leaders usually fit the profile of:
  1. being active in the community
  2. having a college degree
  3. earning a relatively high income
  4. regular readers of newspapers and magazines
  5. actively participate in recreational activities
  6. shows environmental concern by recycling
  • The two-step flow theory of communication refers to voters relying on person-to-person communication with formal and informal opinion leaders
  • PR people use mass media to inform the public and shape their opinion; this can be explained by various theories about mass media effects:
  1. agenda-setting theory-media content sets the agenda for public discussion
  2. media-dependency theory-used when people have no prior information or attitude disposition regarding the subject
  3. framing theory-journalists selecting certain facts, themes, treatments, and words to “frame” a story
  4. conflict theory-using public conflict as a constructive process that builds toward consensus
  • Persuasion is used to:
  1. change or neutralize hostile opinions
  2. crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes
  3. conserve favorable opinions
  • Factors involved in persuasive communication:
  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 action
  8. content and structure of mesages
  9. persuasive speaking
  • Advertising in public relations uses many common propaganda techniques for commercial purposes:
  1. plain folks-focuses on humble beginning and empathy
  2. testimonial-used to achieve credibility
  3. bandwagon-the idea that everyone wants the product
  4. card stacking-focusing on one side of the issue to hide the other
  5. transfer-associating the product with high credibility
  6. glittering generalities-associating the product with favorable abstractions
  • Limitations on effective persuasive messages:
  1. lack of message penetration
  2. competing messages
  3. self-selection
  4. self-perception
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