Chapter 9 Summary: Public Opinion

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann defines public opinion as “opinions on controversial issues that one can express in public without isolating oneself.”  This is something that public relations professionals think about on a daily basis because it is what they strive for achieve, a solid public opinion of their company or organization.  How comsumers view a company or product is the most important thing because it will determine how they will respond to future advertising and marketing ploys, and in turn it will determine how the PR firms will spend their funds trying to attract future customers.  Several things habe to be considered when public opinion is calculated though.  The first of these things is that the “public opinion” may not be the opinion of the entire public.  Most people that speak out on a certain issue have some sort of connection to the topic so their opinion will be biased.  The people that do not have anything to do with the issue will remain silent on the issue, even though they are by far the majority.  Another thing that has to be considered is that the population as a whole is typically segmented, divided into sections that care about things that only apply to them.  The key to swaying public opinion is to convince the leader of the targetted group that what you are trying to seel is right.  The typical leader of  a group is a highly educated, communially active, well informed on recent events and issues and earn a relatively high income.  All of these things together make the leader a well respected person and if they are on your side, their following will not be long after.

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