According to Peter Shankman in a presentation he gave at the PRSA Northeast Wisconsin Chapter's 10th anniversary event this week, the average attention span of today's consumer is 2.6 seconds, 140 characters, or one text message. He compared this to nearly thirty years ago when MTV was launched in 1981 and some americans were outraged that music videos "shortened the attention span of young adults to 3 minutes". Obviously, Americans' consumption of media (and amount put in front of them everyday) has drastically changed attention spans since then. If only companies had three minutes per consumer to sell their products today.
Due to the thinning of consumer attention spans, the way we craft and communicate messages is also changing in order to use new social media avenues and reach audiences effectively. In today's advertising, marketing and public relations, brevity rules. Public relations and marketing professionals need to craft high-quality, meaningful and targeted messages to the right consumers in the way they want to be reached. What is the key to achieving that? First, finding your audiences and ask them where and how they want you to interact with them. Next, good writing. Just because the mediums have changed the way we communicate, the root of crafting a successful message hasn't changed. Good writing skills will always be important, especially on Twitter, text messages, Facebook, blogs and other emerging media channels when all you have is 144 characters or less to tell, and sell, your story.
Unfortunately, at the same time new, shorter media channels are being created, more and more young professionals in the publicity industry are learning 2 write w/ shortened messages instead of using well-crafted writing skills. As an industry, we need to be more aware of how social media is both forcing us to write with brevity and corrupting current writing skills. Make an effort to focus on writing skills for yourself and employees, especially when you're writing for so many different mediums. If you don't, your employes might end up like an applicant Peter Shankman referenced in his presentation who applied for a position at his company and ended her cover letter with, "I am looking forward to working 4 u."
This was his response: