Go Tell It On The Mountains

Go Tell It On The Mountains

Communication | Judette Coward-Puglisi

November 4, 2010

We spread stories that are  inspiring. And if we go  by a recent New York Times (NYT)  study, we sprinkle awe inspiring news across our social networks more than we do the bad stuff.

It took a six month study by a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania to reveal that. They tracked 7,500 NYT stories that readers shared every fifteen minutes  “controlling for factors like the time of day it was published online, the section in which it appeared and how much promotion it received from the web home page.”  

Here’s what they found.

1) Longer articles were more popular than shorter ones

2) People were drawn to stories that provided practical value, were positive, or surprising

3) The most popular stories were awe-inspiring, and created “a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.

4) The stories that were pushed the most allowed us to view the world in a different way and revealed something profound and important in something  we may have once seen as ordinary or routine. 

As a communicator none of the research is surprising, after all  communicators are story tellers and  day in and out we seek to tell stories that resonate, stories that seek to make an emotional connection between ’profit directives’’ and ‘spiritual’ meaning of what we do. When we find stories,  when we seek to spread them 4 things matter:

1) “What’s the  story?”

“Is the story true?”

“Will the people who need to hear the story believe it?”

4) “What difference will it make?”

As the New York Times study noted, “Emotion in general leads to transmission, and awe is quite a strong emotion.” In other words, if you and I share the same emotion while reading an  article or hearing a fact that allows us to think differently about something it brings us closer together. (The same can be said about stories that are grounded in fear, but that’s for a different story)

So if you’re doing something that matters, really matters, then go ahead, take the time, go tell it to the mountains.