Three Books I’m Reading

The  semester begins January 13, so I’ve been thinking about my course.  Fourteen classes, two hours, twenty eight hours of content.  That’s a lot.  And even though I’ve taught it twice, “Grassroots Communications” requires constant refinement.

Based on last semester feedback, I’ve decided to make some significant changes to the reading list.  So, for the last two weeks I’ve been doing a lot of reading and looking for replacements.  I think I’ve found a few keepers.

I’m definitely adding Influence by Robert Cialdini.  Called “one of the most important books…for marketers,” it examines the psychology of persuasion and how to use it to grow your business, movement or campaign.

I’m reading two others I’ll incorporate into discussions.  Bang! by Linda Thaler and Robin Koval examine “The Big Idea” and shows how to create an ultra sticky message that can travel far (have you heard of they Aflac goose?).  I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I bought it at the thrift shop today for $1.05.

I’m also reading Peasant Fires by Richard Wunderli, which examines a 1476 peasant uprising in Niklashausen, Germany.  How did “word spread rapidly” in this pre-literate, poor, peasant population?  The same way word spreads rapidly now:  You need a sticky message (see Bang!) and to satisfy psychological needs (see Influence!), among other things.  Medieval history was never so fun.

I’ve also added The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and  Words that Work by GOP wordsmaster Frank Luntz.  What got the bye-bye?  Tribes, by Seth Godin, whose breezy style I appreciated but underwhelmed others (“belongs in the bathroom,” said one former student).  I’ve also got to axe Word of Mouth Marketing (whose info is repeated elsewhere and feels like a textbook) or Rules for Radicals (which seems like a screaming liberal manifesto).


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