Laws of public opinion


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Laws of public opinion

  1. 1. The heart of public PR work lies in attempting to influence the public opinion process. Most PR programs are designed to:  Persuade people to change their opinion.  Crystallize uninformed or undeveloped opinions.  Reinforce existing opinions.
  2. 2. Public opinion is: -an elusive and fragile commodity. -like shifting sands……subject to change.
  3. 3. “Public opinion is the aggregate of many individual opinions on a particular issue that affects a group of people.”
  4. 4. Hadley Cantril some years ago worked out some laws of Public Opinion on the basis of intensive study of the trends, as recorded by the polls, support these generalizations: 1) Opinion is highly sensitive to important events.
  5. 5. 2) Events of unusual magnitude are likely to swing public opinion temporarily from one extreme to another. Opinion does not become stabilized until the implications of events are seen with some perspective. 3) Opinion is generally determined more by events than by words-unless those words are themselves interpreted as “events”. 4) Verbal statements and outlines of course of action have maximum importance when opinion is unstructured, when people are suggestible and seek some interpretation from a reliable source.
  6. 6. 5) By and large public opinion does not anticipate emergencies; it only reacts to them. 6)Psychologically, opinion is basically determined by self interest. Even its words, or any other stimuli, affect opinion only in so far as their relationship to self- interest is apparent. 7) Opinion does not remain aroused for any long period of time unless people feel their self-interest is actually involved or unless opinion-aroused by words-is sustained by events.
  7. 7. 8) Once self-interest is involved, opinions are not easily changed. 9) When self-interest is involved, public opinion in a democracy is likely to be ahead of official policy. 10) When an opinion is held by a slight majority or when opinion is not solidly structured, an accomplished fact tends to shift opinion in the direction of acceptance.
  8. 8. 11) At critical times, people become more sensitive to the adequacy of their leadership- if they have confidence in it, they are willing to assign more than usual responsibility to it; if they lack confidence in it, they are less tolerant than usual. 12) People are less reluctant to have critical divisions made by their leaders if they feel that somehow they, the people, are taking some part in the decision.
  9. 9. 13) People have more opinions and are able to form opinions more easily with respect to goals than with respect to methods necessary to reach these goals. 14) Public opinion, like individual opinion, is colored by desires. And when opinion is based chiefly on desire rather than information, it is likely to show sharp shifts with events. 15) By and large people in democracy are provided educational opportunities and ready access to information. Public opinion reveals a hard–headed commonsense. The more enlightened people are to the implications of events and proposals for there own self- interest, the more likely they are to agree with the more objective opinions of realistic experts.
  10. 10. People will ignore an idea, an opinion, a point of view unless they see clearly that it effects there personal fears or desires, hopes or aspirations- your message must be stated in terms of the interest of your audience. People do not buy ideas separated from action-either action taken or about to be taken by the sponsor of the ideas or action which people themselves can conveniently take to prove the merit of the idea. Unless a means of action is provided , people tend to shrug off appeals to do things .
  11. 11. e the people buy ideas from those we trust , we are influenced by , or adopt only those opinions or points of view put forward by individuals or corporations or institutions in whom we have confidence. Unless the listener has confidence in the speaker he has not likely to listen or to believe. The situation must be clear to us, not confusing. The thing we observe , read, see, or hear, the thing which produces our impressions, must be clear not subject to several interpretations. To communicate you must employ words, symbols, or stereo-types that the receiver understands and comprehends.