Shrinking attention spans


I didn’t think I had a problem with attention span, but if I’m on my mobile phone and some link takes longer than a few seconds to load, I hit the back button.

Yes, it’s a razor thin divide between being intrigued and getting distracted. Mobile use is up and experts predict that it will continue. That, and all the competing distractions have forced us to again rethink the way we communicate.
The problem is, we school communicators have a lot to say. Now, more than ever.

Besides explaining budget needs and the complicated world of school finance, now we have Common Core to unravel and its potential to weigh down test scores; a controversial teacher evaluation system; dubious sounding initiatives like Bring-Your-Own Device; teacher pensions and more.

140 characters isn’t going to do it. That’s why I like what I’m seeing in some school districts. Here’s a short list of how some school systems are keeping it simple by telling their stories in pictures or videos, taking complex issues and making them understandable or coaxing its audience to dig deeper for more information. (Full disclosure: none are current clients)

* A school district using QR codes to deepen the interaction.

* A pleasing, readable brief on a budget.

* Concise stories and a short newsletter on some weighty issues with some big bonuses: an embedded video about a learning project and links to a newspaper story.

* A school district’s YouTube video that allows you to peek inside and visualize a new building.

* A school district that tells its story on its web page with prominently placed testimonials, even from a young student.

* A web page that has less than two dozen words on it, but a very clear place to click if you want more information.

* A superintendent who takes on weighty issues, new initiatives and talks bluntly in his monthly v-log “Supetalk”

* A school district that tells its story in loads of photos

Clearly, our role as message creator, manager and distributor has changed. What are you doing to meet those changes?