Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blink

Due to a combination of GM's annual summer shutdown period, being sick and a severe case of writer's block, the blog has been relegated to that infamous back burner. Without further ado, here's the latest post.


I recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's (author of , The Tipping Point) book, Blink. This was quite an interesting read with a number of important points for all PR practitioners.
According to http://www.gladwell.com/, Blink is "a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye." Gladwell seeks to examine what happens in the first two seconds we encounter someone or something.
In my college PR classes at BYU, we were constantly reminded of the importance of doing extensive research before embarking on any kind of PR campaign. We were counseled to not simply go with our gut instincts, but to really weigh all the facts before moving forward. Blink refutes this notion.
To illustrate, let me relate one of the stories in the book. In the early 1980s the Coca-Cola Company began to see its market share slipping away as Pepsi started gaining ground. To further boost its sales, Pepsi began the Pepsi Challenge: a taste test in which cola drinkers were asked to pick their favorite cola after sampling two unmarked cups of Coke and Pepsi. Much to the dismay of Coca-Cola, the majority of people taking the challenge preferred Pepsi over Coke. A number of research projects led Coke researchers to conclude that Coca-Cola's taste was much harsher than the smooth taste of Pepsi. Long story short: Coca-Cola replaced its classic formula with the now infamous New Coke. The rest is history (sorry for the cliche').
Despite all the research that said Coca-Cola needed to revamp its taste (New Coke repeatedly beat Pepsi in numerous taste tests), consumers still wanted the old Coke. To this day, Pepsi still beats out Coke in taste tests, yet Coke remains the dominant soft drink throughout the world.
Sometimes research can lead us in the wrong direction. Am I saying that we should never do research and always "go with our gut"? Of course not. Research is beneficial, but despite what die-hard researchers may say, I have to believe that we sometimes "just know" whether or not something will work. We may not be able to explain the why, but that feeling is there all the same. Blink helps us recognize the importance of rapid cognition.
I highly recommend this book to all PR practitioners.

1 comment:

Chris Clarke said...

One of my absolute favorites!