The Background: As you know, good PR is all about the art of persuasion. You are persuading the client to go with your strategy and persuading the media to cover your client.
The Find: Giving a reason, any reason, may help you persuade others to do as you ask.
The Source: Tips on polishing your persuasion skills from, ‘Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive’ - by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini.
The Takeaway: This is based on research carried out by behavioural scientist Ellen Langer and her colleagues, which involved someone trying to cut in line to use a photo copier.
Langer set up three scenarios:
1 - A stranger approaches someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and simply asks: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Sixty percent of people agreed to allow the stranger to cut in line when faced with this direct request.
2 - Next, a stranger made the same request but added a reason: “May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” Nearly everyone (94 percent) agreed.
3 - Finally, the stranger approached and gave a totally senseless reason for the request, but still employed the word ‘because’: “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” Despite the inanity of the reason, 93 percent of people still complied with the request.
The Conclusion: If you want to persuade someone to publish a story or cover your client’s news, give them a reason. Of course, a good reason is best, but even if you think your reason is less than compelling, this research suggests that the media are more likely to comply than if you had given no reason at all.
Why is giving a reason going to improve your PR coverage? Because the research says so.