Blog Post Five – Persuasion


What is the key difference between persuasion and coercion? Would you use questionable tactics in order to achieve your public relations objective, or is such a strategy beyond the bounds of professional PR? Give an example of what you consider to be an ethical use of persuasion in PR. Give at least two references to illustrate your post (250-300 words only). 

Persuasion verse coercion is a term that can be used to compare tactics (Conley 2004). Bicak (2003) asserts that persuasion and coercion are not polar opposites, but part of a continuum. Members of society will often refer to a social influence attempt that they do not agree with as using coercion; while, if they do support a social influence they will use terms such as persuasion or information campaign to describe it (Pieczka & L’Etang 2006).




There are different levels of persuasion, some being more ethical then others. According to Conely (2004) using persuasion to achieve public relations goals is ethical; however, there is a fine line between persuasion and coercion. It is never ethical to use coercion to achieve a public relations objective (Conely 2004).

There are three methods of using persuasion in an ethical manner:

  • The first is using a credible source; if the message is coming from a person who has more authority or is a popular public figure it is likely that the individual will have a more desirable response to the campaign (CQUniversity 2016).
  • Secondly, the argument must be logical and believable. The message needs to be supported by facts. If there is not statistics to back up what the campaign is trying to achieve, the target public will not be influenced or persuaded by the key message (CQUniversity 2016).
  • Thirdly, the message needs to be relevant to the target public. If the audience cannot relate to the concept then they are not likely to be influenced by the argument (CQUniversity 2016).


The key difference between persuasion and coercion is that the former is a method of discourse that endeavors to convince people without hostility or threats; while, coercion employs fear and threats to achieve an objective (Conley 2004).


p vs c

Source: Slide Share


Bham, A 2012, ‘Persuasion and convincing skills’, Slide Share, Image, viewed 16 May 2016, 

Bicak, P 2003, ‘The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century (Book)’, Communication Research Trends, vol. 22, no. 3, p. 38.

Conley, T 2004, ‘Globalisation and the Politics of Persuasion and Coercion’, Australian Journal of Social Issues (Australian Council of Social Service), vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 183-200.

CQUniversity 2016, COMM11110 Introduction to Public Relations, Module 7: study guide, CQUniversity, Rockhampton. E-courses, 

Pieczka, M, L’Etang, J 2006, ‘Public Relations: Critical Debates and Contemporary Practice’, e-book, Lawrence Erlbaum associates, New Jersey, Available at

Zazzle n.d, ‘Persuasion vs. Coercion bumper sticker’, Image, viewed 16 May 2016,  





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