Technology Can Make Anyone An Authority Figure. A PR Expert Offers Some New Ways To Harness It

Staff Writer
·10-min read

In the 21st Century, there is a lot of competition, whether that’s competition among job applicants, or competition among businesses. This contest is exacerbated by technology that makes both competitive 24/7, 365, rather than it just being competitive during normal business hours, pre-information age.

While, in the past, branding was something reserved for businesses, nowadays they are key to getting others to recognize someone’s expertise, and authority.

The basic concept is nothing new, though. Authority has always been one of the central tenants of success in this world.

We use things like awards, degrees, newspaper features, titles, certifications, badges and ranks to act as symbols of this authority. However, these symbols are now projected in places like our LinkedIn profiles, or where our blog ranks on search engines.

And since our brand, whether that’s a business, or a personal one, is essentially open 24/7 to anyone who wants to browse, it’s wise to use technology to augment its perceived authority.

So, How Influential Is Authority?

We can look to science in order to demonstrate the efficacy of being authoritative.

The most well known of these experiments is probably the Milgram Experiment, conducted by Yale’s Stanley Milgram around the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem over his role in the Holocaust.

Milgram set out to answer the question, “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”

To test this, Milgram and his researchers examined the willingness of research participants to obey an authority figure who directed them to perform acts that conflicted with their morality.

Subjects were led to believe that they were aiding an unconnected experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner”. These fake electric shocks progressively escalated to degrees that would have been fatal had they been real.

“Shockingly,” the experiment’s final enormous 450-volt shock was administered by 65 percent of participants, and everyone in the experiment administered shocks of at least 300 volts.

If they had been real shocks, 65 percent of the subjects would have perished, all because an authority figure in a study said that it was okay.

This study has been replicated by dozens of other researchers, with similar results ever since.

While the Milgram experiment is an extreme example of the power of authority, it demonstrates its influence over others. More specifically, it shows how people will trust someone with perceived authority and take their word on the matter, sometimes to monumental degrees.

What Are Some Simple Things We Can Do To Improve Our Authority?

Both businesses and individuals need to project authority in order to be trusted. Here are some examples for each.

First, let’s say you’re an entrepreneur, and have developed an excellent offer. The problem is, without authoritative proof, nobody knows if it’s legitimate or not, since few will just take the word of a business at face value.

However, people will take the word of a publication they are familiar with, or one that ranks well in search engines.

Alex Berryhill is the marketing director at boutique public relations consultancy Gaea Solutions. He says, “Think about it, how many times have you read an article recently, and then bought something that it recommended? We all do it.”

This is why he says his clients regularly see a 35% increase in sales when they send their prospects to an article that recommends their product, rather than to a traditional sales page.

Berryhill says, “You can get a million people to see your offer, but if they don’t trust you once they get there, then it’s largely wasted. Without projecting authority, you leave a ton of money on the table.”

However, not everyone is an entrepreneur, or even has something that is press worthy. Berryhill recommends that a simple way for anyone to build authority is to keep a blog, where you write things that provide value, and demonstrate your competency to whoever will be reading it.

He says if you keep a blog, three primary things happen. “The first is that whoever is reading it can see your level of expertise through your thoughts. Well thought out posts show a certain level of competency. Second, you can share these in relevant social media groups, and these can be found in search engines, if you do a little SEO optimization. Third, is that other blogs are constantly looking for references to support their own content, which means they may use yours, thus getting you press.”

He suggests that these could be case studies you’ve done, observations you’ve made in your field, and other culturally relevant topics. If you’re a student, you can upload your career relevant projects from your classes as well.

Another thing that you can do to project authority is to put out a press release, and display the logos of the sites it’s released on on your website, resume, social media banner, or even your email signature. Berryhill says that press releases can be released for a whole bunch of different things, and aren’t exclusive to businesses. For instance, you could have just raised a few thousand dollars for a charity by doing a 5k run, as an individual. That’s press release worthy.

We live in a competitive age. By using these strategies, and understanding the science behind the persuasive influence of authority, we can exponentially increase our chances of success in business and in life.

In an era of a million resumes, and pitches, a logo from a publication, or a blog post on your subject that referred to you as an expert can be the difference between closing that deal, or getting that job.

Technology Can Make Anyone An Authority Figure. A PR Expert Offers Some New Ways To Harness It.

In the 21st Century, there is a lot of competition, whether that’s competition among job applicants, or competition among businesses. This contest is exacerbated by technology that makes both competitive 24/7, 365, rather than it just being competitive during normal business hours, pre-information age.

While, in the past, branding was something reserved for businesses, nowadays they are key to getting others to recognize someone’s expertise, and authority.

The basic concept is nothing new, though. Authority has always been one of the central tenants of success in this world.

We use things like awards, degrees, newspaper features, titles, certifications, badges and ranks to act as symbols of this authority. However, these symbols are now projected in places like our LinkedIn profiles, or where our blog ranks on search engines.

And since our brand, whether that’s a business, or a personal one, is essentially open 24/7 to anyone who wants to browse, it’s wise to use technology to augment its perceived authority.

So, How Influential Is Authority?

We can look to science in order to demonstrate the efficacy of being authoritative.

The most well known of these experiments is probably the Milgram Experiment, conducted by Yale’s Stanley Milgram around the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem over his role in the Holocaust.

Milgram set out to answer the question, “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”

To test this, Milgram and his researchers examined the willingness of research participants to obey an authority figure who directed them to perform acts that conflicted with their morality.

Subjects were led to believe that they were aiding an unconnected experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner”. These fake electric shocks progressively escalated to degrees that would have been fatal had they been real.

“Shockingly,” the experiment’s final enormous 450-volt shock was administered by 65 percent of participants, and everyone in the experiment administered shocks of at least 300 volts.

If they had been real shocks, 65 percent of the subjects would have perished, all because an authority figure in a study said that it was okay.

This study has been replicated by dozens of other researchers, with similar results ever since.

While the Milgram experiment is an extreme example of the power of authority, it demonstrates its influence over others. More specifically, it shows how people will trust someone with perceived authority and take their word on the matter, sometimes to monumental degrees.

What Are Some Simple Things We Can Do To Improve Our Authority?

Both businesses and individuals need to project authority in order to be trusted. Here are some examples for each.

First, let’s say you’re an entrepreneur, and have developed an excellent offer. The problem is, without authoritative proof, nobody knows if it’s legitimate or not, since few will just take the word of a business at face value.

However, people will take the word of a publication they are familiar with, or one that ranks well in search engines.

Alex Berryhill is the marketing director at boutique public relations consultancy Gaea Solutions. He says, “Think about it, how many times have you read an article recently, and then bought something that it recommended? We all do it.”

This is why he says his clients regularly see a 35% increase in sales when they send their prospects to an article that recommends their product, rather than to a traditional sales page.

Berryhill says, “You can get a million people to see your offer, but if they don’t trust you once they get there, then it’s largely wasted. Without projecting authority, you leave a ton of money on the table.”

However, not everyone is an entrepreneur, or even has something that is press worthy. Berryhill recommends that a simple way for anyone to build authority is to keep a blog, where you write things that provide value, and demonstrate your competency to whoever will be reading it.

He says if you keep a blog, three primary things happen. “The first is that whoever is reading it can see your level of expertise through your thoughts. Well thought out posts show a certain level of competency. Second, you can share these in relevant social media groups, and these can be found in search engines, if you do a little SEO optimization. Third, is that other blogs are constantly looking for references to support their own content, which means they may use yours, thus getting you press.”

He suggests that these could be case studies you’ve done, observations you’ve made in your field, and other culturally relevant topics. If you’re a student, you can upload your career relevant projects from your classes as well.

Another thing that you can do to project authority is to put out a press release, and display the logos of the sites it’s released on on your website, resume, social media banner, or even your email signature. Berryhill says that press releases can be released for a whole bunch of different things, and aren’t exclusive to businesses. For instance, you could have just raised a few thousand dollars for a charity by doing a 5k run, as an individual. That’s press release worthy.

We live in a competitive age. By using these strategies, and understanding the science behind the persuasive influence of authority, we can exponentially increase our chances of success in business and in life.

In an era of a million resumes, and pitches, a logo from a publication, or a blog post on your subject that referred to you as an expert can be the difference between closing that deal, or getting that job.

Non advertorial feature