In terms of a favorite communication theory, I’d have to say that the two-step flow of communication theory trumps all others. Identified by social science researchers Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz, this particular theory states says that most people form their opinions under the influence of opinion leaders, who in turn are influenced by the mass media. It’s a personal favorite for two reasons:
1. It’s realistic.
Word of mouth plays an important part in building credibility given most individuals trust their peers when it comes to gaining valuable information and make the decisions after consulting with other opinions. It makes sense to pass the message of a campaign through the influence of opinion leaders, especially if the message is intended for a wide audience. The more individuals a campaign reaches, the more will hopefully be influenced.
2. It provides results.
As mentioned before, word of mouth has a powerful impact. So, if the right opinion leaders are identified and used effectively, then the message should be communicated fairly easily. Seldom will an individual make a decision based on their own beliefs, they’ll want to consult with others. Opinion leaders can be quite influential in getting people to change their attitudes or behaviors. Better yet, they tend to be quite similar to those they influence. Adapting a PR campaign to this belief can provide those ideal results. It’s not easy, but there can be many rewards when done correctly.