There is an old saying in the sales industry that people make the purchasing decision based upon emotion and then rationalize the decision using logic. A recent article published by the Institute for Public Relations, entitled “Public Relations: A Brain-Based Perspective,” offers some scientific evidence that PR can be more effective when one takes into account factors that can affect emotions.

According to the article, most of the intended PR audience faces an unstructured environment – they receive random messages throughout the day. This allows emotion to command greater control over their decision-making than would be the case in a more highly structured environment like an operating room or engineering workspace.

Professor Baba Shiv of Stanford University says that a great majority of our decisions – 90 to 95 percent – are based upon instinctual emotions. While we think we are being rational, we are actually rationalizing the decision afterwards. If this is the case, then PR professionals would be well served by looking at the emotional side of their communications strategy.

The professor explained that there is a kind of emotional framework, forming an X. One pathway runs from bored to excited, and the other from stressed to comfort. These are constantly changing, and should be taken into account as a message is crafted. If the audience is already excited and stressed, they may welcome a calming, comforting message instead of a scream of panic.

One example cited is the timing of a message to stakeholders. According to Professor Shiv, a message sent out at the beginning of the day will have a more positive reaction than one sent at the end of the workday. Less stress and less excitement early in the day would make people more receptive to news and information. Emotionally, the stakeholders are more ready for news and messages, as they aren’t burnt out yet.