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The Walker Sands Book Club: Catching Great Ideas with Contagious

Sarah Brandon

This winter, Walker Sands revived its (semi?) annual book club, with Jonah Berger’s Contagious. The book proved an apt choice; Contagious focuses on a phenomenon near and dear to the hearts of PR pros, namely, why certain ideas catch our collective interest and go viral, while others fade to the background.

In other words, when we say something “goes viral,” what do we really mean? And what can we do to give the ideas and messages we most believe in a nudge in the right direction?

Berger outlines clear qualities that many of these contagious ideas share. We definitely recommend you read the book rather than our spark notes, but for a quick summary, these principles are:

Social Currency – we share things that reflect well on us

Triggers – we share what’s top of mind

Emotion – we share when we feel strongly about a topic

Public – we share what’s noticeable around us

Practical Value – we share things we find useful

Stories – we share information packed in narratives

As we discussed the anecdotes and concepts within this framework with our colleagues, we realized these forces are at work constantly in the work we do across teams and roles to get our clients noticed. The book club created an opportunity not only to get some fun reading done, but to brainstorm and swap insight with new people… and of course, share our favorite cat videos.

Got suggestions for what you think we should read next? Leave a comment below and tune in for our next book club recap.