How To Tell Stories In An Attention Deficit Era, According To A Bunch Of Creative Gurus

How To Tell Stories In An Attention Deficit Era, According To A Bunch Of Creative Gurus

What’s the key to telling a good story, and how are we supposed to tell it? This was the question posed to a few creative gurus at the REMIX Summit yesterday at Town Hall in Sydney.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

Buzzfeed managing editor Nicola Harvey quizzed a panel that featured Mindshare MD Katie Rigg-Smith, Australian Film Television and Radio School CEO Neil Peplow, and JWT executive creative director Jay Morgan, on their top tips to storytelling in an age of short attention spans.

“Don’t adulterate it,” Morgan stressed. “Find the best story and use the best possible way to tell it.

“It can be hard for brands as they have hidden agendas, but we are in an attention deficit economy and consumers are indifferent to brands. If we want to engage people we have to tell them compelling stories.”

“Regardless of whether it’s long form, episodic, whatever, you have to hook the audience in,” Peplow said.

“It depends on the form, and it depends on what you’re trying to do.

“If you’re five minutes in and you blurt out all the plot lines, your audience won’t be interested in it anymore – unless of course it’s Thor.”

Harvey said Buzzfeed was working on hooking audiences and extending into long form journalism “at a time when people expect most big publications to pull back on that sort of thing.”

Given the way in which audiences switch between channels and lose focus of content nowadays, the panel discussed how it’s possible to build engagement with a consumer.

“Feature films are the perfect example of how to get people to watch long form things, right?” Morgan stated.

“I mean, teasers are the best thing ever invented – and that’s the hook right?

“If you said, ‘We’re going to scrap the teaser and just show the first 30 minutes instead’, people are going to say that’s a pretty shit film.

“For people who have attention deficit, you’ve got to hook them in the first 30 seconds, but once you’ve hooked them you can go really deep.”

Rigg-Smith said it was essential to consider what kind of state an audience would be in when engaging with the content.

“How are people going to receive it?” she asked. “Think about where they’ll be when they see the story and what frame on mind they’re in when they engage with it?”

“We have to also consider the way data plays into creativity,” Rigg-Smith added, admitting she might be a unique opinion given it was a panel on creativity.

“Data used to be mutually exclusive, but now I think it’s intrinsically linked.

“In old school approaches, you’d have two separate genres and audiences segmented, but now with data you can merge them together to find your market.

“We have to use data to liberate the creativity.”