India-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-PlatformIndia-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-Platform

‘Law of The Few’: The people who move the world

, February 5, 2019, 0 Comments

the-law-of-the-fewThe holy grail for organizations’ PR & communications teams in today’s mind bogglingly competitive landscape would be that one idea that can catapult their brand into the big league. Any number of books and articles have been written in the hope of being that guiding light for effective PR. But one of the few timeless ones is Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal book published in the year 2000, “The Tipping Point”, which is edifying and entertaining at once.

The book is not ostensibly dedicated to the PR professionals, but there is so much in it for marketing and communications professionals to draw from. The Tipping Point essentially explores the concept that “ideas and products and messages spread like viruses do”, once they reach a moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. Once they take off, there is no stopping their dream run. So, how do they actually get to that ‘tipping point’?

Malcolm Gladwell introduces three variables, or three rules of ‘social epidemics’ that determine a concept’s ability to reach that threshold – The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and Power of Context.

To capture the essence of the entire book in a few paragraphs would be doing injustice to the book. But to understand what makes certain individuals/organizations stand out and wield tremendous influence in the industry, the Law of the Few will be a good starting point.

The Law of the Few states that ‘the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.’ If we meditate a little on this, we will know that such people are all around us. Take for instance, your automobile mechanic. Nine chances out of ten, he will hook you up with buyers for your vehicle or give you information on whether the latest model to be released is actually worth the wait, but also connect you to the regional transport office, while also convincing you of meaninglessness or the need for replacing the silencer. He is all rolled into one, the three kinds of special few as defined by Gladwell: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

Read more: Importance of PR and IR in IPO communications

Connectors – They possess the special ability to bring the world together. In a fascinating experiment Gladwell talks about, 160 packages were handed to as many random people in Omaha. These individuals were asked to make sure the packages reach a single stockbroker in Boston, through their contacts. Mind you, this was before the advent of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. While most of them had assumed it will take them about a hundred steps to get the package across to the stockbroker, in fact, it took them only five-six steps. That’s because in all cases, the stockbroker was contacted at the last stage by just one individual. Extrapolate this to your PR gambit and see what kind of advantage you would be buying if you have in your network or in your team such ‘connectors’.

Mavens – These are the people, whose raison d’etre perhaps, is to help others. They hold information and are always willing to share what they know. Coupled with their knowledge and social skills, they communicate very well. A good PR agency is indeed a Maven. They understand the client, the industry, the Government AND the media. They will know what exactly to say where, and how exactly to pitch.

Salesmen – We all know too well about the role of salesmen in our lives. But the book explains that there are people who have the salesman thing in them, without actually ‘selling’ a product. They possess the charm, the charisma, and a demeanor that go beyond what they say. They hold the power to convince us of things when we are uncertain, which makes them ‘tipping’ to the word-of-mouth epidemics.

Gladwell’s book has its fair share of criticisms as well, the most frequent one being that the author often overstates his case and does not justify it with equal rigor. The criticisms notwithstanding, the book has continued to dominate discussions till date, as it sets us thinking.