Public Relations (PR) may be a misconstrued element in marketing, but it has the potential to shape public opinion. Day-to-day decisions on products and services bought are closely linked to efforts of public relations. The media, on its part, spreads PR news and information  shaping public opinion on various issues or commodities.

With the introduction of digital media, managing a brand’s digital reputation has become an important aspect in business. For success in PR, therefore, a surefire approach must steer a brand’s image in the desired direction.

Whilst PR plays an important role in shaping public opinion, many readers can’t point out how PR agencies shape public opinion. That said, this article elaborates on the various steps PR agencies follow to do just that.

How Do Public Relations Agencies Shape Public Opinion?

PR agencies today employ the following steps to shape public opinion.

Target Audience Analysis

Key to shaping public opinion by PR agencies is audience analysis. Identifying a target audience and tailoring a message to fit an audience’s attitudes and interests are essential.

Thanks to an audience-centered approach, PR agencies can effectively craft suitable messages and identify appropriate media to reach an audience. While selecting a target audience can be challenging, PR agencies can employ several audience analysis factors to simplify the process. Some of the factors include attitude towards a brand, audience expectations, egocentrism, etc.

Key Messaging

With key messages, it’s vital to create meaning and to highlight issues that a PR agency needs to be discussed. Using well-crafted messages, PR agencies can control the direction of communication, and improve relationships with a target audience.

Regarding public opinion, key messages help PR agencies create desired perceptions in the target audience’s mind. According to Solo PR Pro, in this age of two-way communication and virality of social media, overly packaged messages tend to have an inauthentic touch. That’s because they fail to address key pain points in an audience.

What’s more, success in influencing public opinion is dependent on crafting simple yet effective messages, targeting a specific audience. With content that’s devoid of jargon, brands can communicate their unique value proposition succinctly and create the desired perceptions in a target audience’s mind.

Deployment of Select Tactics

Success in shaping public opinions is dependent on PR agencies employing appropriate tactics to accrue maximum benefits for a brand. After deployment of tactics tailored for the unique needs of a brand, PR agencies support a brand’s spokesperson in engaging the media to solidify key messages and enhance the preparation of media and print interviews. Some tactics that PR agencies deploy to shape public policy include press releases, op-eds, letters to the editors,  webinars, and broadcast interview opportunities.

At the same time, PR agencies seeking to shape public opinion should ensure that select tactics draw significant attention to content that relates to a specific brand. Some techniques employed to ensure that select tactics succeed in shaping public policy include increasing awareness via sensationalism, employing the art of misinformation, and provoking an audience’s emotions to attract attention.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.