Persuasion or Coercion?

In the Latin language, the word persuasion comes from the verb persuadere, which literally translates as per, meaning strongly, and suadere, which means to urge. On the other hand, the word coercion comes from the Latin verb arcere, which means to shut in and implies physical force to produce or change behavior (Powers 2007).

Persuasion plays a huge role in PR. It is critical in the process of portraying a positive image of organisations to their audiences.

According to Powers (2007), the difference between persuasion and coercion is not precise or self-evident. The definitions differ with regard to time, place, language, participants and culture. However, persuasion is generally considered to be morally justifiable, while coercion, on the other hand, is considered to be unethical and morally justified only in limited types of circumstances (Powers 2007).

Thanks to the implementation of Code of Ethic practices, questionable tactics can be minimised when organisations are under pressure to achieve their objectives. No. 3 of The PRIA Code of Ethics (2016) states, that “Members shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and shall take care to avoid doing so inadvertently”. This PR crisis below, is a good example of how an organisation should act ethically in reaching their objective. The objective being: recovery of the crisis.

Persuasive messages require truth, honesty, and candour (Think 2013), which fall in to the guidelines of the Code of Ethics (PRIA 2016). This Domino’s Pizza message, I believe, has done that. The Domino’s Pizza President has shown his honesty through exposing raw footage of the crisis; he expresses his grave concern of the crisis and the implications which have resulted; he reiterates the company’s values; and most importantly, he apologises on behalf of the organisation.



Persuasion, image, viewed 23 April 2016,

Powers, P 2007, Persuasion and Coercion: A Critical Review of Philosophical and Empirical Approaches, HEC Forum. Jun2007, vol. 19 no. 2, pp. 125-143.

PRIA 2016, Setting goals and objectives makes your PR planning more effective, viewed 23 April 2016,

Wilcox, D, Cameron, G, Reber, B, Shin, JH 2013, THINK Public Relations, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America.