Chapter nine describes public opinion and how that functions in a mass society. The chapter gives a couple different variations of the definition “Public Opinion,” including a collective expression of many individuals’ opinion or people who have a collective interest in something. The chapter describes how public opinions are usually formed and change, describing how public opinion can only react to events, and moreover how usually large events shape public opinions.
The most significant form of opinion creation, however, is the ever-prestigious “opinion leader.” An opinion leader is generally someone who is knowledageable about an issue, but the book lists a couple different attributes of opinion leaders including: more informed than the average person, huge consumer of media, good organizers, and usually the first to be on a new idea. For example, this accurately describes pre-teen girls on twitter in 2007, which were made fun of for creating twitter accounts. In the prime time of tweets these now-teen girls have the upper hand; who is laughing now? Although these twitter account holders may be early to jump the gun on twitter and knowledgeable about that platform, they are simply “informal” opinion leaders as they have influence on their pears. This is in contrast to a “formal opinion leader” who is generally knowledgeable about issues and is an elected official.
After depicting the type of people that create a consumer basis for opinions, the book describes the sociology of how these opinions work. The book describes several theories including the media-dependency theory, conflict theory, and agenda setting theory.
Media dependency theory describes how media can only input about a certain subject and influence what they want the mass public to think, rather than completely control it.
Conflict theory explains how conflict about an opinion can actually create a consensus about a certain issue.
Agenda setting theory describes how media sets the stage for what issues they want the public to think about. Again, this is not to say that media can directly control public into thinking anything specific, just influence it.
Chapter 11 describes the importance of acknowledging every audience that exists. Though the book focuses on some key demographics in America, it also describes how the digital revolution has forced Public Relations to take an international stance to their demographic view of an audience.
The chapter describes how different generations are affected by the evolution of technology, and how that evolution affects Public Relations. Creepily enough, the book also describes how “generation Y” will end up spending 23 years of their life online – which sort of hints that everyone in my immediate friend group is going to turn into a cyborg. In contrast, the “baby boomer” generation is listed as a highly multi-cultural generation (because of immigration from World War II) that has a track record for being large consumers. On what seems like a side note, the book mentions that “emerging” groups include religion, homosexuals, disabled, and women.
The chapter describes how each of these groups has a specific buying power. It then goes on to describe how this buying power may relate to a PR professional. For example, a team may be coordinated toward a certain demographic by considering how each demographic uses language, understands cultural back ground, and have an ability to represent an audience.
The reading on canvas is entitled "Supplemental Reading: Agenda Setting, Priming, and Framing Revisited."This reading describes how construction of a reality by large masses can affect how we set our “agendas” or essentially plans to affect said audiences.
The reading describes this by giving a sort of flow chart starting with Agenda Building. Agenda building is considered a dependent variable on how the audience reacts. It creates agenda setting and therein sets the stage for priming.
Priming essentially describes how certain opinions are judged by the mass media – more specifically, this reading describes these opinions set toward respected officials such as presidents, leaders, or political figures.
Framing is described a sort of “background information” to all agendas and priming. Framing is classified as the “central story” or idea that an agenda or opinion came from. Frame setting is not to be confused with agenda setting – frame setting is an independent variable where one would pose an issue that actually happens and it would get a reaction, where as agenda setting would influence a certain issue.