As a media professional using persuasion in your writing, you bear responsibility for upholding a public trust. You should have a highly developed set of personal and professional ethics. Your responsibilities as a professional persuader include focusing on your client’s needs yet producing writing that is fair to all of your audiences. In short, you must practice ethical persuasion in all that you do. Public relations and advertising professionals often gain certification through professional organizations that have developed codes of ethics for practitioners to follow.
Chartered in 1947, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals. PRSA provides professional development, sets standards of excellence, and upholds principles of ethics for its members and for the public relations profession as a whole. Before initiating any persuasive writing project, media professionals carefully research key issues their client or employer is facing, including problems and opportunities, competitors, and the regulatory environment.
Part of this research involves the simple monitoring of media messages. This is why media professionals are voracious consumers of the news. They read, watch, and listen to everything they can find on a daily basis—especially news that relates to their clients or employers. As a student, you should be developing these same informal research habits. After conducting research, media professionals analyze their findings to determine important factors related to situation and audience. Heuristics again come in handy here. Knowing, for instance, that an audience is skeptical about the credibility of a source or that the audience has strong beliefs about an issue can help you to craft just the right message.