Can I Have Your Attention…

PRweekThe tide may be turning this year, as consumers find their attention spans for content growing rather than shrinking. And that’s a great thing for print.

“I think next year we could potentially grow our attention span rather than shorten it.”

Those words, spoken by Edelman UK & Ireland CEO Ed Williams in December, offer welcome encouragement to the publishing industry’s long struggle to capture reader attention in 140 characters or less. And he’s not alone in predicting that 2016 is the year where long-form content, particularly in print, has a strong resurgence, according to John Harrington, writing in PR Week.

Harrington notes that The Times editor John Witherow, who also spoke at the event, predicted “the resurgence of print, while the fall in newspaper sales would ‘steady’ next year.”

“We’re seeing in publishing that people are going back to books rather than reading Kindles because you retain the information much better in print,” Witherow is quoted as saying. “The Times print sales are actually up year on year. The organisation is in profit for virtually the first time in 230 years. And it’s a very positive message – people are really interested in reading.”

“Last year I said I thought this year would see a revival in traditional media, and this year suggests that actually, the most popular news sites are not BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, they are a lot of the traditional news media like John’s paper,” Williams noted.

Traditional media is indeed seeing a resurgence, as brands realize the power of print to help them stand out from the herd, and publishers realize that people really like reading books and magazines in print. As print evolves into a sophisticated marketing channel, its impact grows, and not just for the older generation who was brought up on print.

“You are seeing young people come to trusted, big media brands and I expect to see that to be accentuated in the coming year.”

Perhaps we are beginning to realize how much we miss when we are constantly glued to the sound bite-style content we’ve been consuming. Maybe it’s time to come up for air and get back to engaging in deep and meaningful ways.