I thought Chapter 4 in Sietel’s “The Practice of Public Relations” was one of the most interesting chapters thus far. It discusses public opinion, its importance, and the numerous ways to manage it. It seems clear to me that public opinion is one of the most important items for any organization. If you don’t have the respect of the public, or if you have a poor public image, the organization will almost inevitably fail. Public opinion is key to any company. Look at some of the companies that the public really treasures, like Apple. Apple has a great public image, and they’re one of the most successful companies in the world. The contrary can also be said for an organization with a bad public image, like Toyota recently. When it came to light that Toyota vehicles were malfunctioning to the point that they were killing people, the company took a blow in the eyes of the public.

But this chapter doesn’t just discuss public opinion; it goes into persuasion, and how to sway public opinion, which I thought was the most interesting part. Sietel describes 4 kind of evidence that will persuade.

1. Facts – Facts, when presented the right way, are undeniable. People are persuaded by facts because there is absolutely no questions as to if they’re true or not (in most cases). Facts are evident in so many ads that I see on TV everyday, and are especially persuasive when they have some shock factor. Take a look at this commercial intended to raise awareness for autism. The “Autism Speaks” organization does a great job of using facts to persuade. 

2. Emotion – Appealing to the emotions of people is also an extremely useful tool in persuasion. When a persuasive media tugs at one’s heart strings, or makes them feel a sense of pride, they are much more likely to buy into them. A perfect example of this type of persuasion is the animal cruelty commercials that want you to give money to the animal shelters. They play the sad  Sarah McLachlan tunes, show the faces of the dejected cats and dogs. One can’t help but want to give money!

3. Personalizing – People respond to personal experience. When you see an individual speaking about something, or trying to persuade in regards to something that they have personally experienced, it is much more believable. For example, there’s been a lot of organizations put together in the past decade based around prevention and raised awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. These organizations do a good job when they feature a mother in there ads that lost a child to a texting and driving accident telling her story. It’s believable because she has been through it.

4. Appealing to “you” – Lastly, people always want to know what’s in it for them. If there’s a personal benefit or reward for themselves they’re much more likely to act on a persuasive media.