circle_of_influence_103162005_std1My textbook points out that public opinion is somewhat elusive and extremely hard to measure at any given moment. Few issues create unanimity of thought among the population, and public opinion on any issue is split into several directions. Psychologist have found that the public tends to be passive, it is assumed that a small vocal group represents the attitude of the public. Although, in reality, it is more accurate to say that the majority of the people are apathetic because an issue doesn’t unterest or affect them. So public opposition may be the view of a small but significant number of concerned people. One issue may engage the attention of one part of the population, whereas another arouses the interest of another segment, like parents would be more concerned about education while grandparents are focused on social security issues. Opinion leaders serve as catalyst for the formation of public opinion are people who are knowledgeable and articulate about specific issues. There are two types of leaders defined by sociologists. The first is formal opinion leaders, because of their positions as elected officials, presidents of companies, or heads of membership groups, they are also called power leaders. Second are the informal opinion leaders, those who have a strong influece with peers because of some special characteristics. People seldom make decisions on their own but, are influenced by many differnt people in their lives, i.e teachers, friends, parents, movie stars, public officials, etc. Many PR campaigns focuse on identifying and reaching key opinon leaders who are pivotal to the success or failure of the idea or project. The multiple-step flow model explains in the center are opinion leaders who derive large amounts of information from the mass media and other sources and then share that information with people. The less attnetive publics are the more likely to be influenced by opinion leaders. Inattentive publics are only incidentally affected by news coverage, if at all.

 

Source:

Wilcox, D.L. & Cameron, G.T. (2009). Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics (9th Edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon

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