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, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.