One of the main purposes of public relations is to influence and persuade people to take on particular beliefs about an object, idea or organization. The process and effectiveness of persuasion has been studied by many, resulting in numerous theories that can be applied to the practice and study of public relations. This essay aims to define and explain a selection of persuasion theories in relation to the domino model. .
Key concepts in Communication defines persuasion as being "Intentional influence of opinions, beliefs, values or attitudes by an external agency."(O"Sullivan et al, 1994, p.224) It is a carefully planned process that when executed effectively can successfully sway a person to slightly change, or even completely abandon their current opinions and feelings towards a subject. The media is often responsible for attitude changes towards small, peripheral issues such as a football team or a brand of laundry detergent. However, persuasion as we use it in PR is typically not strong enough to drastically alter centrally held issues. For example, no matter how persuasive a campaign about Christianity may be, it is highly unlikely that a Buddhist would be persuaded to abandon their religion and adopt an entirely new one. .
The domino model is one way of looking at how a message can motivate people to take on different behaviour. It is a four-part sequence based on the concept of a line of dominos- Push one, and the remaining fall in order. (See diagram.) It begins with a message, which then implies knowledge. This knowledge influences an attitude, and that is then translated into behaviour. The domino model can be taken apart so we can look more closely at the theories of persuasion relevant to each of the four levels.
First lets define some easily confused terms. As with many forms of communication, PR relies on the effective delivery of a message through particular channels. In order for the message to be effective however, they must use tactics and strategies to ensure the message takes the right course.