Engaging the Over-Engaged 

1 … 2 … scroll. 1 … 2 … 3 … scroll. Check the comments … scroll. In a culture shaped by instant gratification and constant amusing stimulants, many of us do not know the last time that we were truly bored. We live in a world that never faces an undersupply of media for indulgence, making it more and more challenging to invoke excitement within audiences through strategic communication. Our attention spans are dwindling by the minute and people are becoming desensitized, facing a world of over-entertainment. Phones are buzzing, smartwatches are vibrating and our ability to multitask is at a worrisome level. If not addressed, this could pose a massive threat to the world of public relations and public relations practitioners who wish to fully engage their audience, instead of only holding their attention for a matter of mere seconds.

Thanks to the rise of TikTok, many of us have noticed a shortening of our attention spans and a change in how we prefer to consume media. We once made time to sit and watch the morning news segments to stay up to date on the latest breaking news stories; yet, now prefer to only learn the highlights of each story in a one-minute clip at maximum. According to an article published by Muck Rack in July 2020, the average attention span for humans is now approximately 8 seconds, making it even shorter than the attention span of a goldfish at only 9 seconds. This number has depleted in recent years, with the average attention span being 12 seconds in the year 2000, before the rise of social media and such a fast-paced media diet. Due to the drastic change in the way we prefer to consume media, public relations practitioners must evolve with the times to compete with the multitudes of other messages constantly bombarding target audiences. 

How can we engage the over-engaged? Here are the top three considerations to remember when producing content for your audience of choice.

  • Show, don’t tell: Convey your message visually. Whether it be a candid photo expressing intense emotion, an easy to comprehend infographic or an aesthetic video clip, people are much more likely to pay attention if they do not have to do the work and read to learn more. 
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes: Clients and customers alike want to know why they should listen to you. In other words, how does this benefit me? How is this message more important than the others? Appeal to the audience’s needs, and what type of message they want to hear, rather than what you want to say. Get to the point and get to it fast. 
  • Make people feel seen: Be relatable. Be vulnerable. Invoke a genuine conversation. In a world of over-saturation and desensitized communication, your message can stand out among the masses if it is less corporate and more conversational. 

By remembering these three key pointers when constructing your next strategic message, you’re sure to gain an audience that is both entertained and fully engaged. What other tools have you seen deemed successful in past campaigns? Leave a comment below with your guidance on how to appeal to the culture of luxuriated media.

Madelyn Liverett is currently a senior at the University of South Carolina, majoring in public relations with a minor in law and society. Currently, she serves as a member of the public relations department for The Carolina Agency, USC’s Student-run Firm. With a love for community engagement, she also has previously served as the public relations assistant and senior member experience director for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. On the weekends, she is frequently spotted cheering on the Gamecocks and going on runs with her friends. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *