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The Principle of Scarcity

The Principle of Scarcity

Cialdini suggests highlighting unique benefits and exclusive information. “Study after study shows that items and opportunities become more valuable as they become less available,” he says.

We use the Principle of Scarcity to generate a sense of urgency to take action. We create special offers for products or services or admission to events with availability limited by time or quantity. However, scarcity can also be experienced as exclusivity, and in PR, people are often strongly motivated to be included in groups, committees and online communities they perceive to be exclusive.

Scarcity and exclusivity are effective in persuading people to purchase, download and participate—for fear of losing out.

Caution: do not make deceptive offers. If the deception is discovered it can backfire wildly—especially in social media networks, where negative situations can go viral in minutes.

Putting the Principles to Work

While the Six Principles of Influence can be reviewed and practiced separately, using them in combination increases their effectiveness. As a PR professional these six principles will help you build your reputation as a leader and an expert in your industry, something all of us aspire to.

However, Cialdini cautions us to remember that ethics apply in their use as in all other areas of life. “Dishonest or high-pressure tactics work only in the short run—if at all,” says Cialdini. As a public relations professional, this message is entirely congruent with our training and our commitment to embrace ethical behavior in our daily work.

So, if you feel like your persuasive abilities could use a little tune-up, go back and re-read each of the Six Principles of Influence and start applying them to the specifics of your job and your life. You will be pleasantly surprised at the rewards you’ll receive.

For further information, take the time to read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasionwhich is also offered in Kindle format if you simply have to have it the same day.