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1. Meaning of Public and Publics.

2. Opinion.
3. Public Opinion.
4. Attitudes in Opinion Formation.
5. Changing Existing Attitudes.
6. Formation of Public Opinion.
7. Laws of Public Opinion.
8. Public Opinion Research.
9. Image Surveys.
10. Motivation Research.
11. Effectiveness Surveys.
12. Individual Public Studies.
13. Principles of Persuasion.
Meaning of Public and Publics

A public is “a group of people with a common

interest.” It is rather loosely organized and
conjoined grouping of people with a common

According of Webster’s, Seventh New Collegiate

Dictionary, Opinion is “a view, judgment or
appraisal formed in the mind about a particular
Public Opinion
Public Opinion means what a group of people with a
common interest thinks collectively about
something controversial.
According to Bertrand R. Canfield it is a “Complex
product resulting from the interaction of individual
opinions occurring within a group faced with a
controversial issue.”
Walter Lippamann: In this classic book, public
opinion Walter Lippamann remarks: “The picture
inside the head of …human beings, the picture of
themselves, of others, of their needs purposes and
relationships are the public opinion.”
Attitudes in Opinion Formation
The main aim of public relations is to measure, analyze
and influence public opinion which develops from
individual’s attitude comprising the public. It is
therefore, important to understand the meaning of
attitudes, why attitudes are held by the people, and their
role in the opinion forming process.
Attitude is the feeling or mood of an individual for or
against someone, organization, object or an issue. It is a
way of looking at situations. An attitude that is
expressed can be termed as an opinion. Attitudes
represent the predisposition of an individual to evaluate
controversial questions in a favorable or unfavorable
Changing Existing Attitudes
When an existing attitude no longer provides a person
with satisfaction or when his aspirations are raised,
changes in attitude takes place.

If an individual is not satisfied with his cherished

beliefs, or he is frustrated or has problems, changes
in attitudes takes place.

Attitudes can also be changed by appealing to the

physical, social and economic needs of the people.
Formation of Public Opinion
Public Opinion is formed by individuals who are a
part of group who express their own opinion on a
controversial issue. Public opinion is a composite
opinion which results from the interactions of the
individual opinion.
One of the distinctive characteristic of public opinion
process is the transformation of individual opinion
into public opinion. This is sometimes referred to as
the ‘Group Mind’.
The Dictionary of Mass Communication defines
public opinion as the expression of all members of a
group who give attention to a given issue.
Public Opinion is brought about by transforming
individual opinion into group opinion and by
exerting influence of the members of a group on
the individual’s opinion.
The opinion of the people in a group are influences
3. Hear from opinion leaders and other members of
the group or person from outside the group.
4. Read in newspapers, books and magazines.
5. See in life on television or about their own self.
6. Apart from these individual opinions are
influenced by their own needs, emotions heredity,
culture, experience, education and economic
Public opinion emerges out of the interaction of
individual attitudes opinions and group opinions.
Today as a result of education and improved
communication public opinion is based more on
rational thinking. More people weigh judgment until
they have facts and evaluate the information they
receive from various sources.
Laws of Public Opinion
Some years go Handley Cantril worked out some laws of
public opinion on the basis of intensive study of the trends
over a decade. He held that trends that were recorded by
the polls support these generalizations.
2. In all the important events opinion is very sensitive.
3. Opinion is determined bye events than by words, unless
the words are interpreted as events.
4. Public Opinion is colored by desires like the individual
opinion. When the opinion is based on desire rather than
information, it will show sharp shifts with the events.
5. People are able to form opinions more easily with respect
to goals rather than the methods necessary to accomplish
6. People are less reluctant to have critical divisions of
opinion made by their leaders.
6. When an opinion is not structured solidly or when an
opinion is held by a simple majority, an accomplished fact
will tend to shift the opinion in the direction of acceptance.
7. Opinions are not easily changed when self interest is
actually involved.
8. Unless the people feel that their self interest is actually
involved or opinion aroused by words is sustained by
events, opinions does not remain aroused for a longer
9. Opinions do not anticipate emergencies, it only reacts to
10. When opinion is unrestricted or when people are open to
suggestion and seek some interpretation from a reliable
source, verbal statements and outlines of a course of action
have the maximum importance.
Public Opinion Research
Public opinion research includes motivation research,
image surveys, effectiveness surveys and individual
public studies. Out of these two or more may be
used concurrently in determining the character of an
Opinion research seeks answer what people think
about an organization, why they think so, their
attitudes towards company policies and practices. In
addition to this studies are made of opinion of a few
selected members of the public such as
stockholders, employees, dealers, education, etc.
Image Surveys
Image surveys determine the corporate image in the
minds of the public by ascertaining the attitudes of
the public towards an organization.

They seek to understand the company’s reputation and

what the public thinks about its products, services,
advertising personnel and practices.
Motivation Research
This research seeks to find out why the public look with favor
or disapproval upon a company. Through depth interviews
with a representative sample of the population it seeks to
dissolve which attitude of the public motivates them
towards the organization.
It is necessary to explore the psychological factors which
shapes the individual attitude towards the company, if we
want to understand the motives which influence an
individual’s opinion.
A company’s public image will not only be affected by its
own actions and policies but also by the attitude of the
public towards the industry to which the company belongs.
Motivation studies are carried to find out the emotional factor
that influence the public opinion of a company or industry.
Effectiveness Surveys
They are used to measure the impact made by the company’s
public relations activities on the opinion. Before the start of the
campaign a representative sample of the public is interviewed to
find out the public attitudes and the extent of the public
knowledge of the company.
After the campaign the same people are again interviewed to see if
there has been any change in their opinion due to public relation
Some public relations researchers have questioned the reliability of
this type of survey because before interview the attention of the
respondents is focused on the company. As a result, respondent
are more conscious of the messages and their expressions of the
campaign are not typical of the public as a whole.
Effectiveness surveys are used to measure public opinion of
specific events such as open house strikes, plant closing and
other related activities.
Individual Public Studies
A number of corporation abroad and a few in India
undertake periodic studies of the policies, practices,
management, supervision and working conditions.
The attitudes of the employee’s family are also
surveyed. The most effective method of conducting
employee opinion survey is to question all the
employees in the group of 10-30 by asking then to
complete questionnaires on the questions related to
the organization and of their work.
Principles of Persuasion
Tentative principles of persuasion based on
experimental research:
2. Acceptance of the message is a critical factor in
persuasive communication.
3. If the suggestion meets the following it is more
likely to be accepted.
(d) If it meets existing personality needs and drives.
(e) If it is in harmony with group norms and loyalties.
(f) If the source is perceived as trustworthy or expert.
3. If the suggestion is accompanied by other factors
underlying belief and attitude then change in
attitude is more likely to occur.
4. It is more effective to give only one side of the argument
(b) The audience is friendly.
(c) One position is presented.
(d) Immediate but temporary change of opinion is wanted.
5. It is more effective to present both sides of the argument
(f) The audience disagrees.
(g) It is probable that it will hear the other side from
another source.
6. The one presented last will be more effective when
equally attractive opposing views are presented one
after another.
7. Sometimes emotional appeals and sometimes
factual appeals are more influential.
It depends on the kind of message and kind of
8. In inducing a desired opinion change a strong threat
is generally less effective than a mild threat.
9. The desired opinion change may be sometimes
more measurable after exposure to the
communication than right exposure.
10. Those people who you want most in the audience
are likely to be least there.