This is the second part in a series discussing how public relations can leverage behavioral economics and use “nudging” to persuade stakeholders.
The behavioral economics concept of ‘nudging,’ refers to any aspect of the set of choices that influences individuals toward a desired outcome knowing that humans make biased, irrational decisions (especially when we are hungry).
Nudges also make use of the fact that we as humans have limited cognitive ability and attention capacity. Nudges are used in marketing but often overlooked in PR. Since a shared desired outcome of nudging and PR is to influence opinion or behavior, the strategy can effectively be used in communications.
When scrolling through Amazon and there is a ‘Only 1 left in stock’ sticker by an item, this is a nudge! It is leveraging the fact that losses loom larger than gains in the minds of humans, and the possibility of missing out persuades consumers to act.
For a strategy to be considered a nudge, it must not forbid any options or significantly change economic incentives. Also, the intervention must be easy and cheap to comply with and cannot be mandated.
In PR, nudges could be used to add decision points to the consumer or stakeholder journey. Decision points are points of inflection that cause one to stop and think. For instance, when working with an organization aiming to limit consumption of certain goods, portion-controlled packaging could be used to force the individual to stop and reflect before opening another packet.
It’s been seen time and again that people show preference to people who look like them and who have characteristics they desire. In public relations, influencers can be used who have similar, or desired, characteristics to the target audience. This nudge uses social proof to anticipate that people tend to copy the behavior of others like them or how they aspire to be.
Like with any strategy aiming to influence key stakeholders, nudging must be approached thoughtfully and in an ethical way. Nudges should be transparent, not covert or hidden.
Below are some examples of effective nudges that you may find in everyday life:
- Images on public garbage, recycling and food bins that show which items to go in each container.
- Hotel signs that say, “9 out of 10 guests before you helped conserve water by reusing towels.”
- Using a higher regular price to act as an anchor when comparing a sale price.
- Asking constituents who plan to vote for, which acts as a pre-commitment.
- Smaller plates to reduce the amount of food on a plate.
- Appointment reminders to reduce the ‘say-do-gap.’
- Default shipping options on Amazon.
Whether using nudging to influence stakeholders to support a client’s charitable cause, sign a petition, or be influenced to buy a client’s product, nudges are very useful in achieving desired outcomes for public relations professionals.
To learn more about how Xenophon crafts campaign messaging in to leverage strategies from behavioral economics and nudging, visit our website https://xenophonstrategies.com/services/strategic-messaging/.