Lately, I’ve been on a business book binge. In the last two months, I’ve read several books that friends in MBA programs have recommended. Surprisingly, I’ve found myself easily falling into the nonfiction routine I thought I’d left behind in college.
When a friend told me to read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, I shrugged it off because I’d already read it once. Four years ago, I read it as a college freshman – who was pursuing a biology degree. Relationship building, product marketing and trendsetting meant nothing to me, so I quickly skimmed through the book without thinking about what I was reading.
Now, with a public relations degree in hand and a budding career at a digital marketing firm, I’m engrossed in these concepts, so taking my friend’s advice and diving back into The Tipping Point seemed like a good idea. Exploring the novel again opened my eyes to some theories that directly affect my role as a communicator.
Gladwell introduces his readers to three types of people who are integral to the tipping of ideas:
- Connectors – “links”
- Mavens – “information specialists”
- Salespeople – “persuaders”
There is a chapter about each type of person, and every time Gladwell described their roles, I found myself nodding along, thinking “This sounds like me!” Then I realized that it’s important for PR professionals to hone the skills represented by these three personalities.
Many of the traits are necessary for successful careers in public relations and marketing. We have to be “connectors” who are constantly building bridges between our clients and their audiences. As “mavens,” we should be prepared to provide our network with access to new information. And, finally, we need to accept our role as “salespeople” who are capable of negotiating with and persuading others, whether it’s co-workers, clients, journalists, or audiences.
Another striking and applicable theory Gladwell presented was the “Power of Context.” To describe this context, Gladwell presented an anecdote that showed how crime in New York City dipped dramatically after the city enforced a “zero tolerance” policy for lesser crimes such as vandalism in the subway system. Though this is an extreme example, it shows how vital context is to message reception and that certain environments can be created through proactive measures.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book, especially if you are in the marketing industry. If the thought of reading a theory-based nonfiction book is intimidating, The Tipping Point successfully breaks the standard business book mold. Gladwell’s background as a journalist allows him to clearly explain his theories, and though some might seem far-fetched, his concepts can be applied across numerous industries and platforms, making this an easy and worthwhile read.
Have you read The Tipping Point? What were your thoughts about the book?
image credit: Borders.com