As someone who has worked in media relations for more than 16 years, I’ve adhered to the golden rule of capturing a journalist’s attention in the headline and the first three-line paragraph. Does it capture the who, what, when, where, and why?
It’s little surprise then that the human psyche, especially in a time-poor workplace and regardless of the available technology, has often relied on concise pieces of information to inform decisions. Today, this manifests in daily life, with six-second vine videos, 15-second Instagram videos or still images, and 140-character tweets proliferating our lives.
This ‘snackable’ content, rather than being the absolute story, instead represents a constant drip-feed of messages, delivered consistently and effectively to reinforce a brand promise.
These pieces of information can often be supported by long-form content, situated on a website or another corporate channel for when greater depth and insight is required.
So are these bite-sized chunks of information just gateways to mountains of content, waiting for us to delve deeper? Often yes, but the frequency of these short-form messages also holds further psychological importance.
In consuming shorter, yet more frequent messages, audiences are unconsciously building the brain’s reticular formation that enables the recall of messages to come to the fore when making decisions.
Also labelled as ‘availability heuristics’, the psychology of forming decisions based on the premise of ‘if you can recall it, it must be important’ also supports the push for communication media that foster regular content distribution that doesn’t overawe audiences.
Repetition has long been a friend of communication advisors. It helps cement key ‘take-outs’ for audiences while the art of communicating these messages in that headline and first paragraph or in a 140-character tweet remains vitally important.