Measuring and Persuading Public Opinion

By Iris Public Relations

Public opinion not only determines how successful a PR campaign ultimately is, but also dictates how PR firms get their message across. The fifth edition of Strategic Communications Planning says, “Public opinion is the collection of beliefs, attitudes, and opinions expressed by the majority of individuals within a particular group or public about an issue or topic of interest to them” (Ogden & Wilson, p.20). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how many different point-of-views there are in the world. There are multiple forms of media that portray how many split views there can be, movies being one of them.

It is important to know how varied public opinion can be. This clip from the movie The Boondock Saints shows the public’s immediate reaction to a group of vigilantes who kill mob members on their spare time. One point that is apparent while watching this is that many people refuse to comment. A problem many PR firms encounter is not being able to adequately assess their targeted public’s opinion. This clip can help serve as a miniature research method gauging behaviors of people who are confronted with controversial questions regarding events concerning them.


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2 Responses to Measuring and Persuading Public Opinion

  1. ksorensen19 says:

    I think that you raise an interesting point in talking about how PR practitioners can never be sure if they are accurately assessing public opinion because many times people don’t voice their opinion or just go along with the crowd. I know that in class we discussed the fact that many people lie on surveys because they choose answers that they feel are the “right” answers, or what they should be doing. In my media ethics class today we actually looked at survey results that asked individuals why they feel celebrities are a huge focus of the news media. The number one answer was because media everywhere cover them. Far fewer people actually said it is because they read celebrity news. I even stated that I can comment all I want in class about how ridiculous it is that Paris Hilton is everywhere these days…but one of the first Web sites that I check when I get online is

    So, I am not exactly responding to your whole blog, I just think that it is important to keep in mind that when we are using survey results, the results are not always accurate, nor do they possibly reflect all the different views of the public.

  2. cclark2 says:

    I have discussed this topic a lot in several classes. How people say one thing and act a different way. We briefly talked about this in the One Day’s Pay case, where several people might say they will volunteer their time, only because they feel guilty refusing. However, when the time comes they take no action.

    In my media problems class, we have discussed this issue on several occasions in relation to the presidential elections. Often the polls involving elections with a minority candidate are skewed because people of his/her party will lie and say they voted for their candidate. The race may look close in polls, but when results come out, the opposite candidate has won by a landslide.

    It is important that when dealing with controversial issues, we thoroughly research our stakeholder’s attitudes and behavior about the particular issue in order to take in to account skewed survey responses.

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