If you whiled away your summer engrossed in guilty-pleasure books that turned your brain to mush, fear not! The folks at LightBox Collaborative have gathered our favorite messaging and strategic communications books to help you get your brain primed for the work ahead.
Here’s a sampling of what our wonky LightBox colleagues fess up to reading and re-reading this summer (tucked discreetly inside a dog-eared copy of People so we didn’t ruin anyone’s vacation with reminders of work):
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. A study on memory, emotion and motivation, Made to Stick finds that making a story memorable depends on simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. Their follow up, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, gives practical advice on engaging the rational mind and the emotional mind in creating change.
- Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steve Johnson is a fascinating tour of the flashes of brilliance and creative breakthroughs that take our society and culture to new heights, and the patterns that underlie these good ideas.
- Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications by Sarah Durham. Founder of the firm Big Duck, Durham says it is important to have an integrated marketing and fundraising plan based on a foundation of clear mission and relevant strategy. Fundraising, advocacy, and other nonprofit programs all can benefit from a clear organizational profile, a solid identity, and smart outreach.
- Straightforward: How To Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights is written by law professors and husband-and-wife team Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown and offers practical, makes the case for why straight people need to speak up and act for equality. Well-researched and practical, they focus on strategies that change incentives in favor of equality.
- The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World. Funny that there’s a paperback to give us lessons about blogging, SEO, and e-newsletters, but The Yahoo! Style Guide is available for most e-readers, too.
- Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff. Another “classic,” this one from 2004, Lakoff’s book shows us that the winner is often the one who makes the rules, which in the case of communications is the one who chooses the language to define the terms and parameters of the debate.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. It’s hard to believe that Malcom Gladwell’s definitive book on viral communication is already 11 years old. Yet today it sits at third on The New York Times bestseller list for paperback business books. The notion of the tipping point, mavens, connectors, and stickiness came from this classic, and some of us make a point to go back to it again and again. We wouldn’t be surprised to find copies of Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw on LightBoxers’ nightstands either.
- The Seth Godin collection. We worry about one of our colleagues needing serious chiropractic care one day because we suspect that she constantly lugs all 10 of Godin’s international bestsellers around — along with other smart books, the last five issues of The Economist, and who knows what else in the enormous satchel she carries! Godin’s Purple Cow is the easiest to spot among all of that material, and All Marketers
Are LiarsTell Stories is a wonderful read about how authenticity is the best marketing of all.
What’s on your back-to-school reading list?