The Elements of Influential PR: Conclusion

We’ve taken a look at how public relations can be part of the creation of influence (the psychological phenomenon, not the social media “metric”) in a six-part series. If you’re just catching wind of it, here are the six methods of influence creation:

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

Let’s close out the series by talking about how these should and should not be used. Like any tool, it’s more than possible to use them irresponsibly or incorrectly. The approach that will yield you unsatisfactory results is the one where you set out in a campaign to specifically create content that aims at one of these factors. You can imagine someone sitting around a boardroom table saying, “We need a social proof campaign! Let’s create something that leverages social proof!”


Instead, think of the methods of influence as spices in the kitchen. It’s unlikely, unless you have very peculiar tastes, for you to simply dine on a bottle of basil. It’s unlikely, unless you’re bad at cooking, for someone to simply empty the entire pepper shaker into a dish’s preparation. On average, a little bit of a spice goes a long way towards making a good thing better. Likewise, these methods of influence can help you to sharpen up a campaign, a public relations media placement, or some content. If you’re struggling with how to add a call to action to some content, you can pull out this list and see if there’s an angle, using one or more of the six factors, that you missed. When you’re finished writing up the core idea for a campaign, pull out the six tools of influence and see if you can “add flavor” or more depth to the idea using the six factors, ways to think about your campaign that you hadn’t previously. That approach will yield better results than mindlessly clamoring for an “influence” campaign.

Finally, note carefully that the psychological phenomenon of influence is very, very different from the way that influence is typically measured in social media. In social media, influence is more or less synonymous with popularity. However, being popular is no guarantee of meaningful transactions and interactions that affect the bottom line. Psychological influence is more about changing minds, about getting someone to believe what you want them to believe than it is about getting them to retweet you or like you on Facebook. Be sure not to confuse the two, and definitely do not substitute social media influence “metrics” for psychological influence ones. Incidentally, if you want to measure psychological influence, your best bets are surveying for people who you don’t have direct access to and marketing automation systems and scoring for people you do have direct access to.

We hope this series of glimpses at influence has been helpful and highlights the influence spices in your marketing and public relations kitchen.

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