2014 Commandments: Don't multitask, you will be 'dumber and meaner'

2014 Commandments: Don't multitask, you will be 'dumber and meaner'

It is time to give up multitasking according to Porter Novelli as 98% of us are no good at it and it only makes you “dumber and meaner”.

The warning against multitasking was one of 10 commandments the PR firm’s social media strategist Mandy Griffiths presented at its breakfast event Digital Distillation this morning.

Other trends Porter Novelli highlighted for the year ahead include a rise in nostalgia and a revolt against the middle man in the search for meaningful connections.


Porter Novelli’s 10 Commandments for 2014

1. The average mobile user checks their phone 150 times per day. Will they see you there?

  • Our attachment to the smartphone seems to know no barriers with 40% admitting to checking their phone while sitting on the toilet. “And that is the ones that admit to it,” Griffiths added.
  • Facebook’s recent purchase of WhatsApp demonstrates the importance of mobile with Griffiths breaking down the $19bn purchase. “You could buy American Airlines and Dunkin Donuts and have $2bn spare with that kind of money,” she said, adding that the price puts a $345m price tag on WhatsApp’s staff.

2. How can you help people validate their existence to their network?

  • “The idea of being invisible is less seductive to people,” Griffiths said. “They don’t count unless they are photographed.”

3. Embrace Nostalgia

  • “We are in a pretty interesting time, pretty extreme weather, longstanding manufacturing industries are falling and there is endless finger pointing from our leadership,” Griffiths said. “We are in a little bit of a ‘we don’t know what’s happening’ zone,” she said, adding that people are being driven to the past, to where they felt comfortable and life felt more simple.
  • 82% of Americans agree that vintage products have more character than new products
  • 74% of adults globally say it is difficult to find products that are truly special in today’s world
  • There are more than 63 million pictures using the hashtags #tbt or #throwbackthursday

4. Meaningful vs The Middle Man

  • “The middle men have almost shaken the consumer experience so that it is kind of devoid of all value at the moment. There is a bit of a backlash to that,” Griffiths said. “People want to have a connection to the things that they are buying with the services they are involved in.”
  • For example:
    • See Etsy, an online destination for vintage and handmade goods.
    • Grannies Inc – a marketplace for knitted goods where shoppers pursue the Grannies’ profiles and choose one to knit their product. The product then arrives with a personalised note from the granny.


  • Naked Wines – Giving back to the local growers and boutique wineries that don’t have the marketing dollars to earn a place on the shelves of the big retailers.

5. Media Snacking

  • Consumers attempt to make the most of their “in between limbo times” (waiting in a queue or commuting), in the hope that they will be able to turn off completely later on and indulge in something more meaningful, according to Griffiths.
  • More than 90% of Americans and Europeans get their news through aggregated news services
  • Summly – The news aggregating and condensing app was recently purchased by Yahoo.

6. Social Media Optimisation

  • Google’s updated SEO algorithm now preferences people powered results and brands must now be their own publishers. “Being social is not enough, you have to be your own publisher now,” Griffiths said. “You have to cut out the middle man and go direct to the consumer with interesting content.”

7.  Do Not Multitask

  • “Only 2% of us are effective at multitasking,” Griffiths said, pointing to studies which have shown being distracted can lower a person’s IQ by 10 points. “Also multitasking means you are less able to learn and concentrate on being nice…It makes you dumber and meaner. Don’t do it.”

8. Digital Disruption: “iPads, 3D printing, start-ups. It’s everything you knew before but in a different format,” the Porter Novelli guide said.

9. Statusphere: “Access and time is a powerful new manifestation of status”

10. Sustainability Blues: “Do something worth doing and people will respond”.

  • The rise of crowdfunding is an example of this
  • “65% of adults globally say they are wary of how charities spend their donation dollars,” Griffiths said.
  • “77% say that when they make a donation they want to see how their money is making a difference.”

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