Influential PR: Reciprocity

Welcome to the sixth in a series of 6 pieces we’re going to do on the topic of influence and how public relations allows you to generate influence among your customers, your colleagues, and the world at large. We’re going to base this series off the work done by ASU Professor Emeritus of Psychology Robert Cialdini, whose book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is required reading for many marketers. In his book, Cialdini posits that there are 6 methods or principles on which influence is based:

  1. Scarcity
  2. Authority
  3. Consistency
  4. Social Proof
  5. Liking
  6. Reciprocity

Today, we’ll look at reciprocity, which is actually one of the most pedestrian forms of influence, but still incredibly effective. Reciprocity is simple to understand: I give you something, and unless you’re a sociopath or from a totally different culture with different norms, I create in you a social obligation to reciprocate in some fashion for my gift. Anyone who’s been at an airport, bus station, or train station for any amount of time has seen reciprocity in action; a traveler accepts a small gift like a paper flower from a busker and 10 minutes later is weighed down with five newly-purchased religious texts.

Our free eBook, demonstrating reciprocity in action!

Using public relations to power a reciprocity program is equally mundane but effective. Determine what you’re going to give away, and then run a standard advertising and public relations program to promote the giveaway. Few things in public relations are so straightforward. Invest time in highlighting the free gift you’re giving away with great public relations, and use that as part of the process to convert people from casual passersby to fully invested customers.

In the wrap-up for this series, we’ll look at some of the ethical and moral implications of influence-building, as they are many and in some cases, quite serious.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on March 7, 2013 in Influence, Public Relations

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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