Published By:

Our CEO recently broadcast a link to Secrets of the Science of Persuasion, a whiteboard presentation by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin (no, not that Steve Martin). In it, Cialdini and Martin discuss six factors of persuasion and include scientific validation of the concepts.

As I watched, I wondered how these factors might relate to PR and media pitching. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Reciprocity

People feel an obligation to give when they receive. Favors and partnerships abound in the business world. The key to reciprocity is to be the first to give, making sure it is personalized and unexpected. In the PR realm, this can manifest in many ways. For example, you could share contacts with a media outlet to help them find the story they are searching for. When you do get some juicy media coverage, put some money behind it to help promote the piece socially and be sure to let them know you’ll be doing so! This type of converged media can go a long way toward building a relationship. If you can help the piece reach a larger audience, you’ll not only help your client but the media as well. And they will remember that the next time you get in touch.

2. Liking

People say yes to people they like, and we tend to like similar, complimentary and cooperative people. Before you start pitching to the media, take a moment to research them. Read a couple articles, learn their voice, identify a few similarities you may have and compliment them on recent posts. But don’t be creepy about it! No one wants to feel like they’re being stalked. And most importantly, be sure you are genuine with your compliments.

3. Scarcity

Simply put, people want more of the things they can’t have or have less of. In media pitching, the classic “First Look” approach takes advantage of those feelings. When pitching the media, identify your “home run” sites, the ones that will be the most beneficial. Contact them personally before any other sites and offer your product or story ahead of schedule. The key is to make them feel special. The following formula is a good communication strategy: Benefit + Uniqueness + What they stand to lose.

4. Authority

People follow the lead of experts. You won’t always be authoritative in your client’s field, so let others prove your worth. For example, contact some influencers or thought leaders in the space and get their thoughts to include in your pitch. Better yet, if your client employs a well-known authority in the space, pitch an exclusive interview. Become the outreach specialist who links the media to those in the know and use their authority to your advantage.

5. Consistency

In this case, consistency is looking and asking for commitments. If you’re asking for something big, try an incremental approach: score small commitments, stay consistent and move toward more voluntary, active and public commitments in the future. For instance, if you’re trying to gain coverage for a overlong and boring white paper, first ask the media if they would be interested in seeing it instead of flooding their inbox with a 37-page attachment. Once you have the go-ahead, send the white paper with the request to have it covered. They will be more willing to act on your request because they have already committed in some fashion.

6. Consensus

People look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. Of course, as PR professionals, you don’t want to say, “Hey, the Huffington Post covered this, you should too!” Nothing will turn off a media person faster than getting seconds. But think of it this way: If you’re struggling to come up with an idea or pitch for a specific client, research what other web publishers and bloggers are covering in the client’s market. There’s a good chance that a similar angle will work for you as well. Find out what’s working in the space and try to formulate your pitch around similar factors.

There you have it. Secrets from the science of persuasion and how it relates to PR and media pitching! Is there anything missing, or do you have other ideas? Post them below!

Image credit:


Sponsored Resources

Want more resources

View all Resources

Most Read


Our publication contributors combine decades of experience with unique insights into the content promotion and distribution industry.
Chad Pollitt Partner, VP of Audience Native Advertising Institute
Pam Didner Global Content Marketing Strategist & Author
Chirag Ahuja Head of Marketing WorkflowMax
Jayson DeMers Founder & CEO AudienceBloom
Erik Deckers Professional Writer Pro Blog Service
Bernie Borges CEO Find and Convert
Jessica Stephenson VP Marketing ExactHire
Michael Ferrari Marketing Consultant Pen Cap Online Marketing
Larry Alton Freelance Writer and Editor
David Tile Founder & Director Nimble Media
Jay Baer Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Author
Kelsey Libert Marketing VP & Partner
Dan Steiner Co-Founder & CEO Elite Legal Marketing
Joydeep Bhattacharya Relevance Contributor
Jonah Bliss Founder CMO ContentIntent
Andrea Lehr Promotions Supervisor Fractl
Fernando Labastida Co-Founder Content Propulsion
Dan Moyle Creative Dir. Marketing AmeriFirst
Dennis Yu Chief Technology Officer BlitzMetrics
Arnaud Roy VP Marketing Augure
John Rugh Copywriter/Content Marketing Specialist
Gini Dietrich CEO Arment Dietrich
Justin Spicer Content Researcher, Producer & Editor
Michael Becker Marketing Support Spec. Teradata
Anna Johansson Freelance Writer
Amanda DiSilvestro Content Editor and Writer HigherVisibility
Sujay Maheshwari Founder & CEO
Kelly Coulter Online Marketing Strategist
Taylor Radey Senior Consultant PR 20/20
Rodger Johnson Public Relations Leader & Consultant
Simon Penson Founder & Managing Dir. Zazzle Media
Danielle Wolter Nolan Co-Owner
Jason Falls Social Media & Public Relations Thought Leader
Joe Beccalori CEO Interact Marketing
Fernando Cuscuela Founder & CEO Everypost
Kelly Smith Content Manager CourseFinder
John McTigue EVP Kuno Creative
Yogita Arora Content Strategist Zoomph
Jordan Teicher Associate Editor Contently
Jonathan Crowl Digital Marketing Writer & Editor
Brian Honigman Marketing Consultant, Writer & Professional Speaker Skyword
Katherine Halek Content Strategist
Amanda Drinker Dooley Community Product Marketing Manager Netline
Anton Rius Digital Marketing Consultant More Than Metrics
Matthew Zajechowski Outreach Manager Digital Third Coast
Kevin Bailey Co-founder DigitalRelevance
Peter Chen Digital Marketing Consultant DigitalRelevance
Luana Spinetti Multi-Specialized Freelancer
Kyle Harper Writer Skyword
Elad Natanson Founder appnext
Maël Roth Content & Inbound Marketer Park7
Quin Woodward Pu Marketing Director Audienti
Greg Shuey Co-Founder Stryde
Douglas Karr Founder & CEO & DK New Media
Jean Bansemer CEO My Web Writers
Owen Andrew Journalist
Luke Kintigh Global Content & Media Strategist Intel
Dan Fahrner Director of Marketing Services SmallBox
Asaf Rothem Marketing VP & Partner BrightInfo
Jonha Richman User Acquisition Manager

In case you missed

Read more of the latest news and insights from thought leaders in content promotion and distribution.


Get the latest content promotion news and insights everyday.

Champion Sponsor

Relevance is proud to present our Champion Sponsor that helps make our site possible.

Cision Logo

© 2017 Relevance | Content Promotion News & Insights

Connect with RELEVANCE

Thank you for subscribing Your subscription has been confirmed.