New communications for new times – the next 100 seconds

Communications, marketing and media don’t operate in a vacuum. They are part of the culture of our times.

It’s why we look back on old advertising with a sense of “days gone by” – after all good advertising and communications convey a story and context that goes far beyond the simple message.

So it is not surprising that in this time of COVID-19 crisis, that we are seeing new types, forms and approaches to communication. These new approaches are not necessarily one thing or the other – they are not WHOLLY advertising, nor wholly marketing or even “public communications” that we would recognise. They are hybrids.

One of the more interesting experiments that is evolving is futurist, Mark Pesce’s NEXT ONE HUNDRED SECONDS.

Each day, around 9am Australian Eastern Time, Mark releases a 100 second video clip looking into the near future and challenging his audience to think, act and share.

Themed to connect with Pesce’s award winning Next Billion Seconds podcast, this short, daily video release feels like a hack of platforms and styles. It’s a self-made Frankenstein’s monster combining the immediacy of Twitter, the reach of social media, the urgency of social media video, thematics of TikTok and the seriousness and authority of science podcasting.

No doubt, we’ll see more of this emerge in the coming months. More media. More platforms. And hopefully, more hope.

An Alien Tweet (Almost)

There is something that tickles me about this tweet from the (now) out of hibernation Rosetta space probe.

After three years of hibernation, the probe which is on a mission to intercept a comet (yes, in real life, not fantasy), was awoken and signalled its readiness with the classic Hello World message. If only all our efforts and communications were as simple and successful as this.

What Happens When Coal Seam Gas Comes to Your Town?

Depending on who you listen to, coal seam gas (CSG) is the greatest economic driver open to Australia or one of the greatest threats to our way of living.

This video – from the SBS Insight program – brings a range of viewpoints into the one room. There are farmers like Ruth Armstrong and Graham Clapham from the Darling Downs, Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance, Carl McCamish from Origin Energy, Monash University researcher and lecturer Gavin Mudd, Chris Moran from University of Queensland, Andrew Brier from the Queensland Government and Ray Brown, Regional Mayor of the Darling Downs (and many more). But this debate is not just about the environment – it’s also about economics, business, food security and social cohesion.

It’s a hot topic – and while it is clear that all participants have an agenda and with currently around 2000-3000 CSG wells active in Queensland and another 25,000 planned – this is a topic that is bound to continue to challenge us all.


Stop and Think

You know what it is like. There are thousands of messages seeking your ever diminishing attention – email, twitter, advertising, friends, family, phone calls – you name it, it wants you. And the demands seem to mount ever higher.

Think about technology and social media. Think about the way the next new thing arrives and sweeps us along. Do you jump early? Do you sign up for the beta program so that you can brag to your friends on Facebook? Or do you wait … see what the early adopters say and determine where to spend your precious attention?

What’s your personal strategy?

To many people, the pursuit of the latest, shiny thing seems ludicrous. You can almost hear them thinking “don’t change what isn’t broke”. But it appears there is more than ego and self interest at play in our ongoing obsession with the new, new thing.

For those who are new to social media (or technology or even any other field of endeavour), coping with the constant change and innovation can be overwhelming. It presents as “noise” rather than signal”. But recent research in the field of cognitive fluency suggests that the very act of submitting ourselves to the unfamiliar has the effect of making the unfamiliar, familiar. Cognitive fluency is a measure of how easy it is for us to think about something. Where there is a “blockage” in our processing, we experience this as a “sense” of disfluency – we have to allocate our scarce cognitive resources to analyse and process the information. It triggers a sensory alarm which urges us to trust less.

The interesting aspect here is that cognitive fluency manifests largely as what we would call “gut instinct”. This means that almost any stimulus, from the shape of a face to the typography of a sign can cause us to intuitively TRUST or DISTRUST what we see/hear/feel.

The impact of truly understanding cognitive fluency (and its opposite) for marketers is profound. If we transfer a sense of “difficulty” to do with wording, typeface, design etc to a product, then this will impact our sense of the brand and its role (or potential) in our lives. Some DISFLUENCY may even be useful for some products or services where you really want people to think through and consider what’s on offer.

The interesting thing is that we can modify and work with cognitive fluency. We can employ marketing and communications techniques to transform the way that people “understand” our products ands services. We can work to change not just behaviour but also response and engagement.

All we need to do is stop and think.