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Rhetoric and Media Affairs

Components and Steps in Persuasion:

The components or factors involved in the communication process are source, message, channel, receiver and destination. Source factors include the perceived sender of the communication. The “message” refers to what he says and includes style, content and organization, while “Channel” designates the medium (e.g. press, radio, television) through which the message is communicated. As regards the “receiver” factors, it refers to the persons (e.g. age, sex, etc.) to whom the communication is directed and the “destination” indicates the behaviour (e.g. voting) the communication is designed to influence.

The process of persuasion involves a series of successive steps: The communication is presented; the person pays attention to it; he comprehends the contents of the message and also the basic conclusion being urged. However, for persuasion to be effected the individual must agree with or yield to the point being urged and then finally act on it or in other words carry out the behaviour implied due to the new change in his attitude. For example, he enlists in the army, starts contributing to a charity etc.

Functions and Uses of Persuasion

The Public Relations practitioner uses the techniques of persuasion to:

i)    Change hostile opinions/attitudes;

ii)   Neutralize hostile opinions and indifferent attitudes;

iii)  Crystalize “unformed” or latent opinions and positive and negative attitudes; and

iv)  Conserve or reinforce positive or favourable opinions.

Altering unfavourable or hostile opinions into favourable opinions is a difficult job, however, if the message is compatible with a person’s general disposition About a subject, the task of persuasion becomes easier.

To neutralize unfavourable opinions is also not an easy task. If complete change of opinion or attitude is not achievable the second most desired goal would be to render the hostile opinion harmless or indifferent. It is also imperative for an organization to know where the silent group stands.

The easiest job of a persuader is to conserve favourable opinions through their reinforcement. The public relations practioners, however, should be very cautious and should not commit the mistake of neglecting people already in his fold. He should keep in mind that people rarely like to be taken for granted.