The Priming Wheel: 12 Steps to Yes

How to be persuasive in multiple steps.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The Priming Wheel aims to inspire multi-step persuasion.

With its 12-step approach, the Priming Wheel exem­pli­fies mul­tiple touch­points inspired by “Pre-Suasion,” Robert Cialdini’s frame­work for shap­ing receptiv­ity before the actu­al per­sua­sion attempt is made. 1Cialdini, R. (2017, April 20). Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Amazon​.co​.uk. https://​www​.amazon​.co​.uk/​P​r​e​-​S​u​a​s​i​o​n​-​R​e​v​o​l​u​t​i​o​n​a​r​y​-​W​a​y​-​I​n​f​l​u​e​n​c​e​-​P​e​r​s​u​a​d​e​/​d​p​/​1​8​4​7​9​4​1​4​35/

Each prim­ing step rein­forces the pre­vi­ous one, cre­at­ing a stronger, more resi­li­ent found­a­tion for the per­suas­ive message.

Here we go:

The Priming Wheel: Lay the Groundwork

Priming Wheel - Persuasion - 12 Steps
The Priming Wheel (click to enlarge).
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The Priming Wheel: 12 Steps To Yes

Persuasion is often a jour­ney rather than a one-off event. 

Priming (in per­sua­sion) = the pro­act­ive pro­cess of mov­ing an audi­ence into an action­able state of mind through mul­tiple PR activ­it­ies in a pre-planned sequence. 

The Priming Wheel is not just a lin­ear pro­gres­sion of argu­ments but a layered approach that addresses dif­fer­ent aspects of the recip­i­ent’s ration­al, emo­tion­al, social, and eth­ic­al decision-mak­ing process.

Each touch­point in the Priming Wheel serves as a stra­tegic moment to subtly influ­ence and pre­pare the recip­i­ent’s mind­set, mak­ing them more amen­able to the final mes­sage or call to action.

  • The golden rule of per­sua­sion is to lay the ground­work; nev­er sug­gest any­thing to any­one who isn’t ready to com­ply — yet.

Of course, you can pick and choose rel­ev­ant prim­ing steps for your PR activ­ity — and even arrange them dif­fer­ently to fit your product/​service and narrative:

  • Curiosity trig­ger. Encourage the recip­i­ent to seek inform­a­tion more act­ively. For example, entice them with an inter­act­ive ele­ment like a click­able link to get started.
  • Emotional hook. Connect with the recip­i­ent on a per­son­al level. Share a story that they can emo­tion­ally relate to, fos­ter­ing a deep­er con­nec­tion with your message.
  • Social proof. Alleviate the recipient’s appre­hen­sions by present­ing evid­ence of suc­cess from oth­ers. Utilize testi­mo­ni­als as a reas­sur­ing demon­stra­tion of third-party endorsements.
  • Small ask. Gently nudge the recip­i­ent towards a low-effort com­mit­ment. For instance, request them to briefly describe a chal­lenge they’re facing in exchange for a reward.
  • Value demon­stra­tion. Showcase the bene­fits of your pro­pos­al. Use visu­al or descript­ive meth­ods to high­light the advant­ages, focus­ing more on the bene­fits than the solution.
  • Mutual bene­fits. Build trust by illus­trat­ing how the recip­i­ent’s suc­cess bene­fits you. Clarify the recip­roc­al nature of the bene­fits, rein­for­cing mutu­al interest.
  • Trust test. Gauge the recip­i­ent’s trust in you by ask­ing them to take a small, trust-based action. For example, encour­age them to share your mes­sage with their network.
  • Common enemy. Unite the recip­i­ent against a shared chal­lenge or adversary. Provide a tan­gible depic­tion of this ‘enemy’ to solid­i­fy a sense of joint pur­pose and struggle.
  • Negative rein­force­ment. Illustrate the neg­at­ive out­comes of not tak­ing action. Present a vivid pic­ture of the worst-case scen­ario to under­score the import­ance of compliance.
  • Big ask (“The Sale”). Make a com­pel­ling case for imme­di­ate action. Present your offer with a sense of urgency, like a count­down, to prompt an imme­di­ate decision.
  • Feedback loop. Reinforce the recip­i­ent’s con­fid­ence in their decision or pur­chase. Offer encour­age­ment and express solid­ar­ity, strength­en­ing their con­vic­tion in their choice.
  • Referral ask. Show appre­ci­ation for the recip­i­ent’s opin­ion and net­work. Invite them to refer col­leagues with­in their industry in exchange for a reward, demon­strat­ing respect for their influ­ence and judgment.

The Priming Wheel’s multi-touch­point strategy is not just about deliv­er­ing inform­a­tion; it’s about cre­at­ing a men­tal and emo­tion­al envir­on­ment where the final mes­sage is deeply felt and under­stood, lead­ing to a more pro­found and last­ing impact.

The best per­suaders become the best through pre-sua­sion — the pro­cess of arran­ging for recip­i­ents to be recept­ive to a mes­sage before they encounter it.”
— Robert Cialdini (author of Pre-Suasion) 2Cialdini, R. (2017, April 20). Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Amazon​.co​.uk. https://​www​.amazon​.co​.uk/​P​r​e​-​S​u​a​s​i​o​n​-​R​e​v​o​l​u​t​i​o​n​a​r​y​-​W​a​y​-​I​n​f​l​u​e​n​c​e​-​P​e​r​s​u​a​d​e​/​d​p​/​1​8​4​7​9​4​1​4​35/

Learn more: The Priming Wheel: 12 Steps to Yes

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Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Persuasion

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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