Key Factors in Persuasion

A common goal for PR practitioners is to change the opinions and behavior of individuals. There are several factors in persuasive communication that are very effective in doing so.

One of these is the appeal to self-interest and need. This is the part where you would seek to reflect what the audience is interested in or communicate what they will get in return. Practitioners should also not ignore psychological needs and rewards. Giving recognition to people is highly important. Giving honor can go a long way for long-term beneficial relationships. In other words, making an audience feel appreciated can maintain attitude or behavior change for the long-haul. (For more ideas on this read up on Maslow’s hierarchy.)

Another is audience participation. This means that it is the PR practitioner’s goal is to get the public to perform actions that will lead them closer to changing their views or opinions as desired by a company or organization. If you can get someone to take a little step, they will be more likely to take the step when something bigger is requested. This means that it is important to tell the audience how they can take action.

Source Credibility is also a key factor in persuasion communication. The audience will be looking for who is delivering the information. They will be asking, “Does the source have expertise, sincerity, and charisma?”

Reinforcement is key because when you know what your audience already believes, then you can affirm that and work from that. Finding that mutual ground opens the audience up to listen. This may not always be possible and that is why it is always necessary for PR practitioners to do the research on their audience. However, when it is possible behavior can be significantly changed.

I Fought the Law and the Law Won: How to Be a Law Abiding PR Practitioner

There are several aspects of the law that PR practitioners need to be aware of. Abiding by such laws can determine the extent to which an organization succeeds. They force organizations to be original in how they communicate and brand themselves. They also keep organizations honest.

One law that is very important is defamation. Think PR explains it well, “Traditionally, libel was the term used for a printed falsehood and slander was the term used for an oral statement that was false. Today, as a practical matter, there is little difference in the two, and the courts often use defamation as a collective term for these types of offenses. Essentially, defamation is making a false statement about a person (or organization) that creates public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or inflicts injury on reputation” (Wilcox, 188). This is why it is vital to check facts and ensure accuracy in your statements.

The book goes on to say, “Actual malice has been defined by the U.S. Supreme Court as making a libelous statement while knowing the information is false or publishing the information with ‘reckless disregard’ as to whether it is false” (Wilcox, 188-189). The bottom line is, be honest because the truth will come out and it will take down any organization that is lifted up by lies.

A person filing a libel suit usually must prove four things:
1. The false statement was communicated to others through print, broadcast, or electronic means.
2. The person claiming to be libeled was identified or identifiable.
3. There was actual injury in the form of money losses, loss of reputation, or mental suffering.
4. The person making the statement was malicious or negligent.

It is also important to recognize that employee emails can be monitored. If someone does not particularly like the organization they are working for, they may cause harm in what they say over email. It is the organizations right to be able to address this for the good of the organization. Also, an employee may pass along emails with content that is not inline with the organizations values and can misrepresent the company. It is for this reason that employees should be informed of what exactly the organizations values are and what they wish to communicate to the public through the influence of each employee. While employees have freedom of speech it is most often best for the organization as well as their own benefit to keep the opinions in house. The exception to this is if there are clear facts that point to an organization breaking laws or putting others at harm.

Communicate Better

Being an affective communicator is key to a PR practitioner, just as communication is a key stage in any PR campaign. In order to become a better communicator, it is important to practice.

So how should you practice?

  • Be an active communicator online. Read blogs and be aware of what is going on over social media. Be sure to comment on things and look to comment back in order to maintain a conversation.
  • Always have something to offer people. Be insightful and helpful.
  • Be aware of what is going on in other industries.
  • Have conversations with web experts to gain a better understanding of search engine optimization  (SEO). SEO strategies can be used to improve the visibility of content you produce for the web.
  • Take advantage of classes or seminars offered. Search online for any that may be happening in your area. Also, podcasts are a good alternative.
  • Be a teacher–share your knowledge and experience. “In PR groups, speakers on the topics of social media, measurement, crisis communications, media relations and brand strategy are highly sought after” (Raschanda Hall). Doing so gives you the chance to practice your presentation skills and review the things that you have learned.
  • Get to know some bloggers and learn from them.
  • Make an effort to listen more closely (see previous post “Lousy Listeners“).
  • Make sure your messaging is mobile friendly. This is very important to consider when you go about the communication stage of a PR campaign. Mobile marketing is the new way, and it is important to be on top of it. Download news apps and visit the mobile rendered pages of your favorite brands to see how they get the job done.

(Adapted from “10 ways to sharpen your communication skills“)

Hobby Lobby Gets Boycotted After Filing Suit Against Obamacare

Hobby Lobby, the popular craft decoration chain, has recently taken action against Obamacare and its requirement to provide insured employees with contraceptive and abortion coverage. Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO commented on the matter by stating, “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate… These abortion causing drugs go against our faith.” The suit was filed on September 12th in U.S. district court in Oklahoma City. Lori Windham, the representing attorney for Hobby Lobby said, “They’re being told they have two choices: Either follow their faith and pay the government half a billion dollars or give up their beliefs.”

The crisis that the company now faces is the uprising backlash of groups that are boycotting the chain. 

One way in which PR crisis takes place rapidly is through social media. A Facebook page has been started to boycott the company. In a post to their wall today, they stated, “There’s already 70,000 signatures. We started off with only 12 likes on this page yesterday, and now the boycott is already up to 70,000!!!! Woohoo!!!” This shows how quickly crisis can evolve as people rally together over social media.

In addition to this there has also been a tumblr started in which crafty opposers are showing pictures of their works and voicing their distain towards the companies beliefs.

I could not find a press release so it will be interesting to watch this and see how it plays out. The one statement I found said this, “The Green family respects every individual’s right to free speech and hopes that others will respect their rights also, including the right to live and do business according to their religious beliefs.” This is not a huge crisis, and it is more of a legal case. With that said, I think this was a good statement to put out. They have no reason to give any sort of apology. It would be good, however, to be able to find a more accessible press release from the company in regards to what is going on.

One Facebooker commented, “Religion belongs in a church NOT a workplace,or in strangers lives.” Do you think this is true? While Green may not personally know those employees insured by Hobby Lobby, is he not ultimately their leader and the reason that they have a job there and insurance?