bias in public relations

18 Cognitive Biases that can Impact Public Relations

Public relations professionals must often challenge perception to ensure that internal bias does not erode intended communication efforts.  There have been many recent examples of disastrous results when bias is unchecked and communications campaigns are received negatively by a client's audience. We are human, and our perceptions are shaped by our experiences and environment. It is critical to be aware of bias in yourself and clients so that your work accomplishes the intended goal. This infographic from Raconteur courtesy of Visual Capitalist highlights 18 of the 188 cognitive biases that exist.

The four categories of bias presented include financial, social, short-termism and failure to estimate. All of these categories can impact your communications decisions.

It is important to dig deeper to ensure that you are not making decisions that can be validated in the now but will not hold up later. One way that this can happen is the anchoring effect – relying too much on initial information offered when making decisions. Short-termism bias can affect how we pre-qualify clients, price our services and do our work.

Financial bias
As a solo PR pro, you do not want to take unnecessary risks when it comes to financial decisions. Hyperbolic discounting – preferring a smaller, sooner payoff instead of a larger, later reward is a good example of financial bias. This can lead us to take work that is immediate but not ideal. You may receive the short-term payoff but end up with a client that causes you misery.

Social bias
Social bias can have a huge impact on our work. If you believe that you are less biased than others (blind spot bias) you risk making poor decisions about communication campaigns.

Failure to Estimate
The clustering illusion – erroneously overestimating the importance of small clusters or patterns in large data – is one example of how the failure to estimate bias can impact your work. You want to validate your perceptions with accurate data.


Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

How do you guard against bias in your work? Share your insights in the comments below or on social media using #solopr.

Photo by Bekah Russom on Unsplash