Persuasion: A True Art Form

In my previous post I discussed the different virtues a public relations profession (or a journalist for that matter) should possess.  While I certainly believe that honesty, devotion, and trustworthiness are all important to becoming a successful public relations professional, I think there is one art form that must be mastered before one can call him or herself a true master of PR… the art of persuasion.

When you think about it, haven’t we all been working on honing our persuasion skills our whole life?  From “But the $30.00 Barbie will make me fit in better with my friends than the $15.00 Barbie… don’t you want me to fit in with my friends on the playground mommy?” to “I’ve just been so bogged down with schoolwork lately Professor, would you mind if I turned in my paper a couple days late? I’d just much rather you see my best work, even if that means a couple days later,” we’ve all been mastering this essential art form our entire lives… well at least I know I have.

It is obvious that persuasion skills are key in the world of public relations… but how far is too far?  Can the art of persuasion ever be taken out of hand?  Or is it simply the public’s job to be responsible and educated enough to make their own decisions, no matter how persuasive the professional?  Personally, I believe that there needs to be a smart balance on the public relations professional’s part.  It is obviously completely good, not to mention necessary, for one to practice persuasion skills; persuasion is an important skill for professionals of virtually all careers to master in my opinion.  Whether it is convincing a public, an audience, your boss, or even your fellow coworkers, persuasion is an important tool in becoming an effective communicator.

However, that being said, I do believe that there is a line that can certainly been crossed, and I’m certain has been crossed by many professionals in the past.  It is easy for persuasion to border on essentialism, fabrication, or even straight up dishonesty, and this is where I see a problem.  Of course it’d be easy to say “I’ll give you fifty bucks if you listen to me and then attend this event I’m announcing.”  Hey, if someone told me that, I’d say I’d be persuaded and not even ashamed.  But persuasion needs to be practiced with an ethical heart, and audiences need not be taken advantage of.  On that note…

I’m telling you, I can make you the most well-liked, successful, and happiest person in your graduating class, and I can promise you that with my help, you can make every single one of your peers 100% jealous of you at your next class reunion… all I need is a down payment of fifty bucks.  Persuasive right?

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~ by emily074 on December 9, 2009.

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