Persuasion is a sort of communication that influences others’ opinion. The readings of this week have the art of language in common when providing the description of persuasion (Messina, 2007; Borchers, 2013; Gass & Seiter, 2018). Moreover, readings highlight that persuasion impacts feeling and emotions of the audience to change their minds about a certain subject or topic. It is also commonly accepted that the art of persuasion appears almost in the fields related to human interactions, such as advertising, TV, the Internet, and mass media.
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There can be confusion between persuasion and manipulation as both terms influence people’s perception and behavior. However, there is a great difference between those terms, persuasion is applied to advance the position of people involved, making them accepting truth, while manipulation has a negative impact of those who adopted the manipulations. Although both of them change people’s ideas, the outcomes of each are completely different for the audience. Additionally, the discourse of persuasion includes ethics that ensures that persuasive actions/speeches do not violate any ethical norms. Borchers (2013) suggests that the lines between persuasion, coercion, and violence are becoming increasingly blurred. Therefore, ethics is needed when dealing with persuasion otherwise it will turn into manipulation.
Borchers (2013) and Messina (2007) both discuss ethics in the context of persuasion. Borchers argues that ethical judgments based on various standards should be done with regards to persuasion, whereas Messina addresses persuasion in the context of public relations. It seems that Borchers’ message fits with Messina’s findings which concluded that ethical persuasion can be possible with analysis of standards that are used to determine ethical issues.
In terms of public relations (PR) and interests, it is crucial to recognize what is public interest and who decide it. According to Messina, public interest is central to public relations and ethical principles and is determined by the dominating interest within the public. There is a principle that help in determination of the public interest that is “if an interest is considered desirable
and right (or wrong) for one person, it must be desirable and right (or wrong) when applied to others in similar circumstances” (Messina, 2007, 37). As such, public interest can be identified by dominated or winning interest in communities or so called democratic political processes.
When mitigating public relations or making advertising, it is vital to apply ethical principles. This is because it ensures that no one is offended and that the action that is going to take is acceptable by the public. Public relations and advertising include people and their interaction with each other, as such practitioners should be extremely significant in making decisions related to persuasive fields. Otherwise, not considering ethics can cause legal issues and public dissatisfaction.
To help practitioners of PR and advertising in mitigating ethical matters, there is scholarly work and standards at city, national or state levels. Due to them, practitioners can learn aspects of effective ways of how to do ethical judgments. Moreover, it suggested that practitioners should act with regards to public interest. What is good and acceptable for everyone should be considered as public interest and PR/ advertising practitioners should consider it. One more point is consequentialism that is considering consequences during reasoning (Messina, 2007, 39). So practitioners should think of any outcomes of their decision before the actual decision making.
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Borchers, T.A. (2013). Persuasion in the media age. (3rd ed). Waveland Press, Long Grove, Ill.
Gass, R.H. & Seiter, J.S. (2018). “Persuasion: social influence and compliance gaining.” (6th ed). Routledge.
Messina, A. (2007). “Public relations, the public interest and persuasion: An ethical approach.” Journal of Communication Management.