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20 February 2017

Too much information? Telling stories that resonate

Written by: Christina Petrova, Account Manager at Edelman

Innovation, Technology, Trust

Before I got my first mobile phone, there used to be a time when I remembered each and every telephone number of my immediate family members and close friends. Fast forwarding a little over 10 years to the present, as advancements in technology have completely transformed the mobile market, I realise I have not only grown out of the habit of remembering these numbers but I also don’t necessarily need to.

“Never memorise something that you can look up”, said Albert Einstein, yet in the context of global digitalisation, his famous quote does not even remotely describe the extent to which we’ve entrusted technology to store and exploit our data. We have embraced the idea of smart devices memorising our personal and contact information, reducing the reliance on our own memories to a bare minimum. Now, our loved ones are on speed dial and just a tap away.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a great example of how technology uses input data to learn and perform better. Still, the human memory works in a very different way – you can exercise your memory just like every muscle in the body by repetitively feeding it with information. However, the information with no practical application that we don’t use or even make an effort to remember, is forgotten.

From a business perspective, this is nothing but bad news for brands.

Just three years ago, the Edelman Trust Barometer showcased that company messages should be repeated as consumers need to hear the same information three to five times to memorise it and consider it credible and believable. Certainly, the changing media landscape provides various opportunities to repetitively communicate the same message with consumers across different platforms. Yet, controversially, the biggest challenge organisations are facing today is that no matter how many times they repeat a message, consumers are likely to ignore information that supports a position or information they do not believe in.

But as platforms multiply and the number of organisations repeating the same messages all over again increase, we should start asking ourselves – where is the tipping point at which consumers stop listening to what we’re trying to communicate to them?

The cybersecurity sector is the perfect case study for addressing this question.

Odds are that if you open any publication today, you’d read at least one story talking about the growing number of cyber threats consumers and businesses are exposed to. If you try to keep track of the numbers thrown at you, soon enough you’d be more inclined to ignore the warning these numbers were trying to portray rather take measures to protect your digital footprint or secure your business better. The very proof of that is the fact that the number of security breaches continues to grow.

Where many might see this as a challenge, I personally like to think about messaging saturation as an opportunity to do things differently, to look deeper for the right story and the angle, which may have not been previously explored. For example, who is communicating the message and how are they communicating it? According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017, CEO credibility has dropped to an all-time low of 37 percent. It might be a time therefore to reassess the channels and the people telling the story as well as the story itself.

As creative storytellers, all of us here at Edelman, are on an ongoing journey to craft compelling, insightful and memorable stories for our clients, enabling them to communicate strong messages with impact.

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