Before uttering a single word in court, the legal team arguing for marriage equality to the US Supreme Court in 2013 undertook a months-long nationwide public relations campaign with one man as its primary target–Justice Anthony Kennedy, who they knew was likely to cast the deciding vote in the companion cases at issue. The PR campaign employed a set of concepts and specific wordings Kennedy had used in earlier court opinions– “human dignity,” “individual liberty,” and “personal freedom/rights”– and linked those concepts to the marriage equality position. The intent was to ensure that Kennedy would hear three of his prior opinions tied to the idea of marriage equality wherever he went in the months before court proceedings. Did this pre-suasive tactic work? The legal team members think so, pointing to an affirming piece of evidence: When explaining his tie-breaking votes in the cases, Kennedy leaned heavily on the same concepts of dignity, liberty, and freedom/rights the team had previously labored to associate with their position in his thinking.
A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
The author of the legendary bestseller Influence, social psychologist Robert Cialdini shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered.