Chapter Nine: Public Opinion and Persuasion. Overview. What is public opinion? Opinion leaders The role of mass media Persuasion Factors in persuasive communication Propaganda Persuasion and manipulation Ethics. Public Opinion. What is public opinion?
Chapter Nine: Public Opinion and Persuasion
Overview • What is public opinion? • Opinion leaders • The role of mass media • Persuasion • Factors in persuasive communication • Propaganda • Persuasion and manipulation • Ethics
Public Opinion What is public opinion? _ American talk about public opinion as if it were a monolithic entity overshadowing the entire landscape . _ public opinion : is the opinion on controversial issue that one can express in public without isolating oneself .
Related ---- _ another definition of public opinion is the sum of individual opinions on an issue affecting those individuals . * These definitions is the concept of self interest . • Self-interest • Event-triggered
Public Opinion _ public opinion is the collective expression of opinions of many individuals bound into a group by common aims . _ people who are interested in an issue, form public opinion on a particular item . _ psychologically , opinion basically is determined by self interest
Public Opinion _ opinion doesn’t remain aroused for a long period of time unless people feel their self interest is actually involved . _ once self interest is involved , opinion is not easily changed * Research also emphasize the importance of events in the formation of public opinion such as :
Public Opinion _ opinion is highly sensitive to events that have an impact on the public _ by and large , public opinion doesn’t anticipate events , it only reacts to them _ events trigger information of public opinion unless the people are aware of an issue
Opinion leaders are: Interested in a particular issue Knowledgeable Consumers of the mass media Early adopters of ideas Good organizers Opinion leaders can be formal or informal. Opinion Leaders
Opinion Leaders _ The formal opinions leader , so called because of their positions as elected officials, presidents of companies or heads of membership groups , people in formal positions also are called the power leaders _ The informal opinion leaders those who have clout with peers because of some special characteristics _ Journalists seek quotes from key opinion leaders in an industry whenever a new product is introduced .
Opinion Leaders The Flow of Opinion Two step flow theory of communication it suggests that mass media had minimal influence on electoral choices , but votes did rely on person to person communication with formal and informal opinion leaders
Opinion Leaders Multi-step model: Is graphically illustrated by a series of concentric circles, in the Epicenter of action are opinion makers , they derive large amount of information from the mass media and other sources and then share these information with people in the adjointing concentric circles .
The Role of Mass Media - Agenda-setting theory - Media dependency theory - Framing theory - Cultivation theory
The Role of Mass Media Mass media : such as radios , televisions , newspapers and magazines . _ mass media means the information from a public relations source can be effeciently dissminated to millions of people . _ Public relation people via the mass media play an important role
The Role of Mass Media That’s because they inform the public opinion as they provide the mass media with the information in the first place
Agenda – setting theory _ one of the early theories contends that media content sets the agenda for public discussion , people tend to talk about what they hear or see on the 6 o’clock news or read on the front page of the newspaper , media through the selection of stories tell the public what to think about not necessarily what to think !!!!
Media – Dependency theory _ Although the agenda-setting theory of the media is valid , other research indicates that mass media can have a moderate or even powerful effect on the formation of opinions and attitudes . _ when people have no prior information regarding a subject , the mass media play a role in telling people what to think
Framing theory The term framing has a long history in mass media research . Traditionally , framing was related to journalists and how they selected certain facts , themes, treatments and even words to frame a story . _ Mass media scholars have long argued that it’s important to understand the ways in which journalistic framing of issues occurs because such framing impacts public understanding and policy formation.
Persuasion _ Persuasion is an activity or process inn which a communicator attends to induce a change in the belief , attitudes or behavior of another person or group of persons though transmission of a message in a context in which the persuade has some degree of free choice .
The dominant view of public relation _The dominant view of public relations in fact is one of persuasive communication actions performed on behalf of clients . _ it ‘s considered more than one way flow of information argument and influence . _ Persuasion is an integral part of the democratic society . It’s the freedom of speech used by every individual to influence opinion , understanding and action
Uses Of Persuasion Persuasion is used to … • change or neutralize hostile opinions • crystallize latent opinions and positive attitudes • conserve favorable opinions
Factors in Persuasive Communication • Audience • Credibility • Appeal • Clarity • Timing and context
Factors in Persuasive Communication • Audience participation • Suggestions for action • Content and structure of messages • Persuasive speaking
Audience Analysis _ Knowledge of audience characteristics such as beliefs , attitudes , concerns , and lifestyles is an essential part of persuasion , it helps the communicator tailor the messages that are salient , answer a felt need and provide a logical course of action. . _ Basic demographic information , readily available through census data , can help to determine audience gender , income level and ethnic background .
Audience Analysis _ Another audience analysis tool is psychographics this method attempts to classify people by lifestyles, attitudes , and beliefs . _ one element of public was (sustainers and survivors ) it identifies the low level of income, poorly educated, people who consumed inexpensive food and seldom ate out . _these segment of the consumer allow public relation person to select appropriate media for specific story ideas .
Source Credibility _ A message is more believable to the intended audience if the source has credibility , this was Aristotle’s concept of ethos , it explains why organizations use a variety of spokespeople , depending on the message and the audience .
Source Credibility _ source credibility based on 3 factors: • One is expertise , does the audience perceive the person as an expert on the subject ? • The second component is sincerity does the person come across as believing what he or she is saying? • The third component is the Charisma . Is the individual attractive , self assured and projecting an image of leadership ?
Source Credibility _ Problem with celebrities:- Using the celebrities has it’s problem however one is increasing number of celebrities endorsements to the point that the public some times can’t remember who endorses what . The second problem can be over-exposure of a celebrity such as Tiger woods who earns millions of dollars annually for endorsing more than a dozen product .
Appeal to self interest • Self interest was described during an earlier discussion about the formation of public opinion . Publics become involved in an issues or pay attention to messages that appeal to the psychological or economic needs . • Sociologist Harold Lasswell says that people are motivated by 8 basic appeals they are power, respect , well being , affection, wealth , skill , enlightenment , physiological and mental vitality .
Clarity of message Many message fail because the audience finds the message unnecessarily complex in content or language . The most persuasive messages are direct , simply expressed and contain only one primary idea . _ public relation person should ask 2 questions (what I want the audience to do with the message?) and will the audience understand the message ?
Timing and context A message is more persuasive if the environmental factors support the message or if the message is received within the context of other messages and situations with which the individual is familiar . Those factors are called timing and context .
Audience participation A change in attitude or reinforcement of beliefs is enhanced by audience involvement and participation . _ Activist group use participation as a way of helping people actualize their beliefs . Not do rallies and demonstrations give people a sense of belonging but the act of participants reinforces their beliefs .asking people to do something conserve energy , collect donations …..
Suggestions for actions _ A principle of persuasion is that people endorse ideas only if they are accompanied by a proposed action from the sponsor , recommendation for action must be clear . * Public relation participants must not only ask people to conserve energy , for instance but also furnish detailed data and ideas on how to do it
Content and structure of message A number of technique can make a message more persuasive , writers through out history have emphasized some information while downplaying or omitting other pieces of information Thus they addressed both content and structure of messages * Experts communicators continue to use number of devices including :
Content and structure of message • Drama : because everyone likes a good story , the first task of a communicator is to get the audience attention , this is often accomplished by illustrating and event or situation . _ Newspaper dramatize a story to get reader interest in an issue
Content and structure of message 2. Statistics : people are impressed by statistics , use of numbers can convey objectivity, size and importance in a credible way that can influence public opinion .
Content and structure of message 3. Surveys and polls : airlines and auto manufactures use the results of surveys and polls to show that they are first in ‘ customer satisfaction ‘ services and even the Cargo space . The most credible surveys are those conducted by independent organization research
Content and structure of message 4. Examples : a statement of opinion can be more persuasive if some examples are given . Environmental groups tell how other communities have established the greenbelts when requesting a city council to do the same and so on …….
Content and structure of message 5. Testimonials : a form of source of credibility , testimonials can be either explicit or implied 6. Endorsements : in addition to endorsements by paid celebrities product and services benefits from favourable statements by experts in what is called a third party endorsement ……
Content and structure of message _ Media endorsements usually unpaid , through reviews surveys and new stories , also the media produce new stories about new product and services because of the media’s perceived objectivity are considered a form of third party endorsements .
Content and structure of message 7. Emotional appeals : fund raising letters from non profit organization groups , in particular use this persuasive device . • Psychologists say that the most effective emotional appeal is one coupled with facts and figures , the emotional appeal attracts audience interest but logical arguments also are needed
Persuasive speaking Psychologists have found that successful speakers and salespeople use several persuasion techniques : * Yes- Yes : starts with points with which the audience agrees to develop a pattern of yes answers . * offer structured choice : give choices that force the audience to choose between A&B College audience may ask audiences ( do you want to raise taxes or raise tuition ?)
Persuasive speaking * Seek partial commitment : get a commitment for some action on the part of the receiver . This leaves the door open for commitment to other parts of the proposal at a later date . * Ask for more , settle for less : submit a complete public relation program to management , but be prepared to compromise by dropping certain parts of the program .
Propaganda Techniques - Plain folks - Testimonial - Card-stacking - Transfer - Generalities - Name-calling
Propaganda • Plain folks : an approach often used by individuals to show humble beginnings and empathy of with the coverage citizen . • testimonial :a frequently used device to achieve credibility . A well know experts gives testimony about the value of a product or the wisdom of a decision . • Bandwagon :the implication that every one wants the product that has overwhelming support
Propaganda _ Card stacking : the selection of facts to build an overwhelming case on one side of the issue while concealing the other side . _Transfer : the technique of association the person, product , or organization with something that has high status , visibility and credibility .
Propaganda _Glittering generalities:the technique of associating a cause , product , or idea with favourable abstractions such as freedom , justice , democracy and the American way
Persuasion and Manipulation:Limitations Limitations of Persuasive Messages • Lack of message penetration • Competing messages • Self-selection • Self perception
Persuasion and Manipulation:Limitations • Lack of message penetration : The diffusion of messages despite modern communication technologists isn’t persuasive , not everyone of course watches the same television programs or reads the same newspapers and magazines. Not everyone receives the same mail or attends the same meetings.
Persuasion and Manipulation:Limitations • Competing messages :In the 1930s before much was known about the complex process of communication ,it was believed that people received information directly, without any intervening variable. • This was called the bullet theory or the hypodermic-needle theory of communication.
Persuasion and Manipulation:Limitations • Self-selection: the people most wanted in an audience are often the least likely to be there. • Vehement supporters or loyalists frequently ignore information from other side. They do so be being selective in the messages that they want to hear.