PR Persuasion and Ethics

AHHH propaganda or persuasion! Got to love it or hate it?

I love how it it such a creative tactic which has been used for years!

Is propaganda and persuasion the same thing or similar? I definitely believe similar as they are both tools, which attempt to influence an audiences thinking. It is true that cult leaders are the best persuaders due to the way the present themselves by using different words and slogans and almost manipulating and playing on people’s attitudes.

Propaganda definitely follows a strong ideological agenda, which is practiced by large groups. When someone has been influenced with propaganda it shows devotion to the leader that they are following. It normally is known as sneaky and may often have evil motives to it.

The characteristic which persuasion holds to which I understand is that they tend to be more personal. I personally believe propaganda is used in more of a group, while persuasion can be more individual and a one on one tactic.

Robert Cialdini has six rules of influence which are reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity. (Hogan, 2008) The two main rules that I can relate with are liking and scarcity. I am a sucker for scarcity, if something is supposedly “limited edition” or there is only apparently few of an item, I am persuaded to buy that product quicker than if there was more of the item. Also someone who has a likeable personality and can communicate well will me will help to persuade me as well. When I can relate with someone whether it’s to do with supporting an organization or buying something, I am convinced to support the company more because I have some sort of connection with that person.

I guess although I am studying marketing, it is my job to do this persuasion act and actually market a product or whatever I am trying to “sell” to the consumers in a powerful way, I didn’t think how these influential rules are happening all the time in front of us. These people may perform the smallest act that will make a huge impact on us to support that person in a way. For example, a waiter may compliment (” you look lovely” in a cool, exotic accent) us or give us a mint (yummy, free mints) and automatically we like that person more and are more likely to give them a tip rather than if they weren’t persuasive and didn’t make us feel special.

A clear example of propaganda was the KONY 2012 incident. All of my friends watched or shared the kony video and tried to get involved by buying the products online, sticking up posters or sharing or liking the video. It is crazy how easily we get persuaded and fooled by something. All the facebook status’ about trying to be heroes and help out, but the only person we were helping was Jason Russel!  Ethics are always involved as well with celebrities. Do you think Justin Bieber really uses ‘Proactive’ all the time. Probably not! However, it is a very influential way to advertise something by paying celebrities and getting them involved. In saying that, they need to be careful because the media is very smart and deceiving and will ask celebrities at any chance if they were paid to either post a tweet about a company or be involved somehow.


Propaganda and persuasion is happening all the time and we have all experienced it before. In my opinion, I love learning about propaganda, it is so interesting to see how fooled we all get when it comes to trying to help something/someone out instead of looking at the bigger picture and just getting involved in general, not only because it is a stupid trend!  I believe propaganda is such a creative and devious tactic.

However, don’t get to fooled guys! heheheh

Hogan, K. (2008 ). The Science of Robert Cialdini’s Six Rules of Influence. Available: Last accessed 12th April 2012.

Viligant Citizen. (2012). KONY 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation. Available: Last accessed 12th April 2013.


One thought on “PR Persuasion and Ethics

  1. I have to say that I am with you 100% in that I love both propaganda and persuasion, however the part of it I find most interesting is analysing what becomes of it and looking at it from an outside perspective. I particularly like thinking about the psychology that relates to these notions, and really like how you discussed this in relation to cult leaders and how they have become so well versed in the ways of persuading others.

    I found Cialdini’s rules of influence to be very interesting and thought that the connection you made with scarcity and liking to your own experiences really good, where as I was reading this I found myself thinking that I am very similar to you in the way we think on these influence tools. I also really like Cialdini’s idea of reciprocity in how we do feel obligated to give back if someone does something for us, even in instances where they do not expect anything in return.

    I also agree with the example you give about waiters influencing us to tip them by what they do, it made me think about this one little coffee shop I used to frequent where the price of coffee was always for you, as in “for you, it is $3.50”, where even though this is the price they charge everyone it made me feel like I was special in some way.
    I really like you analysis on this topic and hope you keep up this passion for the other topics we will face in this course

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