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The Principle of Authority

The Principle of Social Proof

“Use peer power whenever it’s available. Social creatures that they are, human beings rely heavily on the people around them for cues on how to think, feel and act.” — Cialdini

The Principle of Social Proof is a constant in PR as people try to assess the value and importance (to them) of your experience, accomplishments, publications and professional connections. With the growth of social media, people also look for social proof in markers such as numbers of friends and followers, numbers of retweets, mentions in online search engines and content shared by people they know and respect.

In PR today, we demonstrate social proof by developing and sharing content that has genuine value to our audiences, and by acknowledging those who communicate with us directly and share our content with their networks. Content can include all electronic forms of communication as well as traditional vehicles such as books, articles, white papers, public speaking, etc.

4. The Principle of Consistency

Cialdini recommends making commitments active, public and voluntary. “There’s strong empirical evidence to show that a choice made actively—one that’s spoken out loud or written down or otherwise made explicit—is considerably more likely to direct someone’s future conduct than the same choice left unspoken,” he states.

We put the Principle of Consistency to use in public relations in several ways. As integral parts of our communications strategies we remind readers to sign in to receive newsletters or to be able to comment on blog posts; we ask them to donate or make public commitments of support to our cause or client or organization. For ourselves, we demonstrate the Principle of Consistency by showing up regularly, communicating clearly and using a wide range of tools to share our message.

5. The Principle of Authority

“Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident. Surprisingly often, people mistakenly assume that others recognize and appreciate their experience.” — Cialdini

Everyone looks to experts for direction at times, especially in areas where we feel we know less than we should. In today’s marketplace, people constantly search for expert advice online. PR professionals demonstrate expertise in order to win buy-in for strategies and campaigns and to be taken seriously as part of high-level planning.

We use both offline and online platforms to showcase and highlight expertise, and author articles, books and white papers that answer important questions, or demonstrate in-depth knowledge. We use social media, where our expertise commands high value and attention and can be used to persuade others to purchase products, share content and make referrals to their own personal networks.