Difference between persuasion and coercion

“Influence is the compass, persuasion is the map” Joseph Wong 2012

Persuasion and Coercion are entirely different tactics to communicating. Persuasion is an essential part of public communication because it’s about building relationships with the publics (Cenere et.al. 2015), whereas coercion is a more vigorous way of establishing a message or belief (Mind-trek.com 2016).

According to Business Dictionary 2016 persuasion is the ‘process aimed at changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them.’

For people to be effectively persuaded, three things need to happen.

  1. The message needs to come from a credible source
  2. The message needs to have a logical argument
  3. The message needs to relate to us in some way

(Kerslake 2015)

The video below outlines elements of persuasive arguments

The dictionary.com 2016’s definition of coercion is ‘use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance’. Levels of coercion involve physical violence, blackmail and misrepresentation or fraud; because of this coercion is not an ethical approach to public relations, but damaging approach instead (Mind-trek.com 2016).

Persuasion is essentially what public relations is all about, and coercion is not used in public relations because it is threatening to publics, which does not build trust between an organisation and individual (Wilcox et.al.2015). Public relations practitioners must conduct their methods in ethical behaviour (Yang, et.al. 2016). This approach means persuasive messages must be accurate, honest and candour (Wilcox et.al.2015). Compelling messages must be these reasons because they are representing a business or an organisation and its reputation. Secondly, because misleading information does not serve the best interests of the public or organisation (Mind-trek.com 2016: Wilcox et.al.2015).


Denis Wilcox, Glen Cameron, Bryan Reber, Jae-Hwa Shin (2013). THINK Public Relations (2nd). New York, New York, USA: Pearson Education Inc. ISBN: 9780205857258

Kerslake, T(2015) Weekly Study Guide module 8, retrieved from https://moodle.cqu.edu.au/course/view.php?id=3389 pg4-5

Mind-trek.com (2016). Why You Must Recognise and Understand Coercion.. Retrieved 21 April 2016, from http://www.mind-trek.com/reports/misc/coercion.htm

Phillip Cenere, Robert Gill, Celeste Lawson and Michael Lewis (2015). Communication Skills for Business Professionals. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1-107-65662-8

The definition of coercion. (2016). Dictionary.com. Retrieved 21 April 2016, from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/coercion

Watts, P. (2012). Elements of a Persuasive Argument. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ7u30OG7yk

Yang, A., Taylor, M., & Saffer, A. J. (2016). Ethical convergence, divergence or communitas? An examination of public relations and journalism codes of ethics. Public Relations Review, 42146-160. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.08.001




One comment

  1. Hello Katie,

    Very impressive blog posts. I really like how you have illustrated your posts with a real variety of pictures etc. Good work and good luck with you studies in the future.
    Catherine Knight.


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