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persuading and influencing in PR

In both our professional and personal lives, being able to influence others to buy into our ideas is invaluable.

Despite what some outside the industry may think, persuading and influencing in PR is not about bending the truth, insincere flattery or omission of facts. It’s about negotiating, considering a situation from the perspective of the other person (as well as a third-party observer), understanding how others operate, and anticipating and overcoming potential challenges to ultimately achieve the best results.

This also extends to content. Solving challenges, identifying demands, and delivering on expectations; feature articles, press releases, pitches – and, yes, blog posts – must present a compelling reason for a target audience to get on board with an idea. Some may have the gift of the gab, but in my content management role at Babel, persuasion by pen is vital.

No matter how you communicate, working in PR – and promoting a wide range of products, people and initiatives – means utilising ‘towards motivation’. This involves selling someone future benefits and focussing on positive outcomes; a key trope of all successful PR and comms activity.

We may not realise we’re doing it, but as I learnt in a workshop last week, this is a key part of communication, relationship building, influencing and persuading.

However, using emotion to inject a sense of peril, driving someone through fear, and focussing on negative consequences, can also influence behaviour. This is ‘away motivation’. The decision as to which approach to take will depend on who it is you’re communicating with, and if you understand what drives them.

We face countless scenarios on a daily basis where we (unconsciously) choose whether to utilise ‘towards’, or ‘away’ motivation. These may include contacting a journalist about a client’s product launch, pitching a campaign idea in a meeting, or re-negotiating a deadline.