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It’s An Attention Economy

by jhenke

As a blogger, I get my fair share of emails about events, stories and issues. Sadly, far too many of them are lifeless, uninteresting, impersonal press releases – a format that should have evolved much more than it has.

That kind of online communication – blogger outreach that consists of press releases and lifeless PR mumbling – just kills me….and it hurts the people who do it. It may be “on message”, but the message has buried by the marketing. It’s as if the first class at Communications University is How to Make Something Completely Uninteresting In 500 Words or More.

Many political campaigns do something similar, treating email like direct mail – lots of graphics and all the text they can cram in. This is exactly wrong. The bloated press release and campaign spam are a vestige of the era of direct mail and the fax, when there was a better reason to be more formal and to cram as much information as possible into the higher-cost shot you had at reaching people.

That simply does not translate to the internet. We read differently online. The mental cost imposed by marketing language is just too high. Tedious press releases won’t sell in a hyper-competitive attention economy. Online communication has to be fast, personal and authentic.

The lesson for communications professionals is this: If you can’t tell them exactly what they want to know in the first couple lines, well… they have a lot more emails and websites that will probably be more interesting than your message.