Posted by: kgaboury | October 7, 2013

Finding meaning in the noise

Note: I had some issues publishing this this morning, but thought I’d post it anyway since it was already done.

As we go about our daily lives, we’re inundated by thousands of different messages fighting for our attention. Telephone poles are plastered with multi-colored posters advertising rock concerts, billboards hover in our periphery whenever we drive to work, commercials periodically interrupt our viewing of football games. But are they really saying anything?

In chapter one of “Strategic Communications and the Professions,” Dan O’Hair, et al. describe noise as “anything that interferes with communication.”
I’d add one word to that: effective. As the authors point out, communication is a two-way street. The source and receiver of information must have shared meaning, or the communication fails.

I think as strategic communicators, part of our job is to wade through the noise and find some sort of meaning. But are messages that aren’t relevant to us really worth our time? Why is it that the annoying mattress store jingle from the radio gets stuck in out heads? It may be an effective communication, but if we don’t actually need a mattress, it doesn’t mean anything to us. Eye-tracking studies have found that readers of online articles rarely view ads on the side of the page, according to the Techcrunch article. Why, then, are they still so prevalent online? As Lindsey just mentioned, Suster says we’re wired to only pay attention to what’s relevant to us, and everything else is just noise.

How do you respond to the multitude of different messages we’re bombarded with each day, and what do you choose to pay attention to or ignore?

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