• The psychology of PR: How to use emotions to convert

    Most purchases are impulsive. They rely on an emotional response in the audience to make them happen. So, in order to win conversions, communication professionals need to tap into those emotions in their campaigns. Being a PR pro means having a solid understanding of psychology and the main principles that interact with communication.

    Which psychological principles can help us communicate more effectively and gain more conversions?

    1) The principle of recriprocity

    If you offer your audience a freebie or a gift, they'll often repay it later.

    Think about it. When someone does something nice for you, you often feel compelled to do something nice in return, to reciprocate the gesture. The same principle works for PR. If you offer your audience a freebie or a gift, they'll often repay it later. This could be something as simple as surprise free delivery on check-out, or a free gift to your most loyal customers at Christmas. You'll find your clients reciprocate with repeat business, word of mouth referrals and social media engagements

    Communication professionals will find customers always give something back when they receive gifts themselves. The principle of reciprocity means your customers will want to return the favour when you give them gifts or freebies.

    2) Fear of the unknown

    Offering a free trial can help get your foot in the door.

    Human beings don't like change. They like feeling comfortable, they like what they know. So trying to get customers to sign up for a service, especially one they have to pay for, can be very difficult. This is why it's always a good idea to offer a free trial, especially when the company you work for is still building its brand. This gets your foot in the door and means your service becomes a feature of their everyday life – it's no longer the unknown.

    3) Create a sense of scarcity

    You've probably heard of FOMO or fear of missing out, and you can tap into this by creating a sense of scarcity. Often when buying event tickets the vendor tells you when spaces are running out, and because you don't want to miss out this encourages you to buy tickets. Likewise, Amazon tells its users how many items it has left in stock – if it's low, purchasers are much more likely to buy the product for fear of losing out on it completely.

    You can employ these tactics yourself, or even just use things like time limits to promote urgency. For example, many communication professionals give customers access to free trials or special discounts but only for a limited time (just make sure you advertise these limits so your audience doesn't get annoyed). 

    Telling your audience how many products or spaces are left is a great way to tap into fear of missing out. Event organisers often tap into fear of missing out by telling customers how many tickets are left.

    4) The psychology of colour 

    We've all heard the statistics about how visual media is taking over communication. Well it turns out colour is integral to creating strong PR campaigns through visual media. In fact, research by Xerox suggests use of colour increases readers' attention spans and recall by 82 per cent. There are a whole range of psychogical theories that connect certain colours to particular emotional responses. Some of the most common are:

    • Yellow – optimistic, youthful and attention-grabbing.
    • Purple – has a calming effect, often used for beauty products. 
    • Blue – leaves the reader feeling trustful and secure. Often used by banks.
    • Green – this is the easiest colour for the eye to process, and is often associated with money and finance.
    • Red – has connotations of energy, it increases the heart rate and sense of urgency, which is why it's so broadly used during sales. 

    The best communication campaigns incite an emotional response in their audiences. This is why keeping up to date with prominent psychological theories is essential to effective communication. For more PR news and trends, please visit our Insights page

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