Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There are Two Sides to Every Coin, at Least Three or More in Every Story

Image credit www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When most of us think of persuasion we think it’s somewhat devious or manipulative, which it certainly can be if it’s used to make people harm themselves (luckily, PR has a very clear code of ethics), but it’s really a useful tool to educate consumers and eliminate ignorant beliefs.  Even studying PR I am not immune to external influence and here are some of my experiences (public figure/brand, consumer decision, and opinion) that have been shaped by the art of persuasion.   
Image Credit Oprah.com
As a child I distinctly remember sitting in my hallway watching my mother’s taped Oprah shows, and I only watched because I was waiting to get to the episode of "Days of our Lives".  My opinion of Oprah was always one of indifference until I became news-literate and developed a new appreciation for her.  For the last 20 years her message has been complete and consistent.  She has built an empire through broadcasted messages of personal empowerment, invoked the support of celebrities and other key influencers, and provided evidence it all works.  Even when Kitty Kelley released an unauthorized biography bashing Oprah, my opinion of her remained unchanged.  Her response with acknowledgement, humor, and ultimately a ‘let’s move on’ attitude really solidified my respect for her. If Oprah had not done such an amazing job of developing her brand the biography could have caused some major damage.       

Image Credit www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I was looking for a savings account that would provide a lot of freedom yet security in a relatively unsure economy, all with minimal fees.  There were so many options on the market, both available publically and privately, and I was really torn on what would work best for me. I am definitely not an expert on the issue so I went to sources I respected like Golden Girl Finance and Gordon Pape for their advice, and researched their suggested options.  Their opinions on Tax Free Savings Accounts were solely responsible in my savings account decision.  

Image Credit www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you had asked my opinion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a few years ago you would have received an earful from me.  A very good friend of mine started working for a company that is considered an industry leader within the province and during a friendly debate (albeit a heated one) provided a convincing argument with some irrefutable proof of its benefits. Her word and argument alone weren’t enough to sway me because I thought she was likely very biased, but it was enough for me to want to look into it further.  Now if you were to ask me about GMOs you would get a different earful.

The majority of what you read online, watch on TV, or hear on the radio is deliberately presented to you in an attempt to form your personal views and opinions.  Even seemingly unbiased items have seeds of persuasion embedded in them.  There are a myriad of sides to every person, product, brand, or issue.  You don't need to be a pro to know when someone is trying to persuade you, or to try to persuade someone else.  Questioning what you are told or read with thorough research will ensure you're always correctly informed, and will also help you inform (and likely persuade) those around you.    

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