One of the side effects of living in the digital age is that the constant bombardment of messages and digitally driven lifestyles has changed the way our brains perceive and process information. One of the most interesting, yet possibly frightening adaptations, is our diminishing ability to pay attention for extended periods of time.

Public Relations and communications agency

According to Cara Kruger, Senior Account Director of Epic MSLGROUP, the convergence of digital technologies, falling prices of technological devices and accessibility afforded by the internet has truly empowered the consumer to pick and choose the information they wish to engage with. “In the same way that consumers have changed the way they consume information, so too do companies need to adapt the manner in which they communicate.”

Time Magazine suggests that we have lost our ability to stay focused for longer than approximately eight seconds – just one second shorter than the memory of a goldfish. “If poverty of attention is driven by a wealth of information, as economist and Nobel Laurette Herbert Simon proposes, then surely the continuous demand for content must drive this behaviour,” suggests Kruger.

“Dwindling media circulation figures and decreasing sales are directly linked to the increased adoption of affordable technology and improved access to the internet. In 2015, the number of YouTube and Instagram users increased by 53% and 65% respectively. Second only to the United States, South Africans increased their mobile video consumption by an astounding 42%. This highlights that although television, magazines, newspapers and other mass media remain very important, their dominance is fast declining.”

This fact and the findings of recent research by Microsoft Corp concurs with Kruger’s observation. “The study set out to investigate the impact of technology on the way we process information, and the research suggests that we are less effective at filtering out distractions than we thought, and that modern users are constantly hungry for new information.

“Similarly, content now has the shortest life cycle in history, and the shift in communication afforded by the Internet and social media has changed the way in which news is reported and consumed.”

Kruger says it is for this reason Epic MSLGROUP has developed a priority, multimedia ePR tool to convey messages and information to target audiences. “The ePR tool allows marketers to transform a static text-only press release or announcement into a dynamic content platform and incorporates videos, soundbites, infographics and social media posts that media and influencers are able to seamlessly share.”

She says that in a constantly evolving world, marketers should opt for multimedia formats to convey targeted messaging to their audiences as these are more engaging and easily shared. As many media platforms, bloggers and influencers are already utilising videos, podcasts, infographics and branded images to convey messages to their audiences, marketing professionals need to promptly adapt should they want to remain relevant.