Tear Down the Wall of Noise


What is our responsibility to create content?

With so many of us at home, there’s never been such a large, welcoming, and hungry audience for digital media as there is right now. Ironically, the same crisis that has people consuming more content than ever is driving overwhelming stress over whether brands should create certain content – especially when it has to do with marketing and sales.

Brands already have been perceived as being on either the right or the wrong side of this. On one side, you have Ford’s largely admired response advertising. On the other side are the financial services company telling me it’s s time to talk with an advisor about increasing my 401K contribution and the travel and leisure brand promoting content on all the “hot spots” (yeah, not kidding) I should visit this Spring.

This kind of content feels like a misplaced performance out of context with reality – like someone laughing hysterically at a funeral or talking loudly during a lecture. Our response is something akin to, “They should know better. They should be more responsible.”

But do we know better?  What is our responsibility?

Do we have a responsibility to deliver news, education, business continuity, thought leadership, inspiration, or even humor on a blog or social media? When we browse our feeds or inboxes as consumers of content, we see posts that are meant to be informative. Helpful. Inspiring. Nostalgic. Funny. They connect us and build up the feeling of community.

But we also see content that takes away from all of those things. Despite the quality or the intention of the content, it somehow feels wrong. It might be topical, informative, helpful, or funny in another context. But right now, at this moment, it feels wrong and icky. 

Does it feel wrong and icky because of the content? Or because of the source of the content? Are we uncomfortable because we’re trying to avoid the truth or hide from what it’s trying to tell us?  Or, does it feel wrong because we’ve been bombarded with this information and we don’t need anyone – much less “so and so” – to tell us something we don’t need to know, or that we’ve seen again and again and again. “Yes, I get it,” you might yell. “I don’t need you to tell me again how scary this is.”   

Today, we can simply click a button and “share” or “publish.” An ensuing wall of noise isn’t just likely. It’s inevitable.

Consider how, in a crisis, brands might see the ease of publishing not just as an opportunity, but also as a responsibility.  As brand communicators, we might feel a responsibility to make sure we’ve sent two, three, or twelve emails, texts, and social messages communicating what we’re doing in response to a crisis. We might feel a responsibility to direct all our content creation to cover the crisis. That’s our responsibility.

But is it?

It isn’t.

Letting everyone know what we want to say is easy. Understanding what needs to be heard is exceedingly hard. 

The opportunity to communicate is powerful. Digital media makes it easy.

The responsibility to communicate is a different question. It’s easy to convince ourselves that because we feel the responsibility to say it, our audience needs to hear it.

They probably don’t. So we probably shouldn’t.

Our opportunity is to be responsible.

Our responsibility is to start not with the question of what we should say, but with what our audiences need to hear.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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