Published on Sunday 10th April 2016
Persuasion and Coercion in Public Relations
Figure One: Persuasion, Source: Google Images
Persuasion and coercion are two commonly used techniques employed in the public relations sector.
Richard Perloff, author of The Dynamics of Persuasion, defines persuasion as ‘an activity or process in which a communicator attempts to induce a change in the belief, attitude, or behaviour of another person or group of people’ (Wilcox et al., 2013, p. 148).
In today’s society most PR practitioners utilise persuasion as a method of conveying information to a target public which could subsequently influence and shape the public’s behaviour and opinions (Mireles, 2014). As a result, the PR practitioner has given the public the option to act accordingly to the proposal (Mireles, 2014).
Successful persuasive messages are communicated in a manner that is direct, concise, and focuses on one core ideology (Wilcox et al., 2013, p. 155). McCleneghan (2006) suggests that PR practitioners must utilise reality perceptions in the communication process in order for them to stay competitive in the public relations sector.
Hollander (1992) articulates that the utilisation of coercion implies the ability to regulate and dominate an individual to do or believe in something that they would not normally do on their own account.
The utilisation of coercion in PR is unquestionably beyond the boundaries of professional public relations (Messina 2007). The use of coercion as a strategy limits the information given to the target public which effectively reduces their ability to make their own informed decisions (Messina 2007).
Danciu (2014) argues that ethical persuasion in the PR sector consists of presenting the product or service that the organisation has to offer in a logical and truthful manner. As a result this enables the individual to make voluntary and informed decisions based on the information and data that has been presented to them (Messina 2007).
PR practitioners should utilise persuasion as opposed to coercion to maintain a high level of personal reputation and ethical standards.
DANCIU, V 2014, ‘Manipulative marketing: persuasion and manipulation of the consumer through advertising’, Theoretical & Applied Economics, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 19-34.
Dennis W, Glen C, Bryan R, Jae-Hwa S, (2013), Think Public Relations.
Hollander, E. P. (1992). Leadership, followership, self, and others. The Leadership Quarterly, 3, 43–54.
McCleneghan, JS 2006, ‘PR Executives Rank 11 Communication Skills’, Public Relations Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 4, pp. 42-46.
Messina, A. (2007). Public relations, the public interest and persuasion: An ethical approach. Journal of Communication Management, 11 (1), 29-52.
Mireles, A. (2014, November 20). Persuasion: 6 Principles That Power PR Success. Retrieved from Cision: http://www.cision.com/us/2014/11/persuasion-6-principles-that-power-pr-success/