Press Releases

Message fatigue: How to keep content fresh and audiences engaged

Monday, 23 November, 2020

We live in a busy world with messages flying at us constantly and from multiple channels – social media, emails, billboards, streaming platforms, direct mail and signage hanging in store windows and on office walls. The list goes on. Those channels are constantly evolving, too. From technology like smart watches to newer social platforms like TikTok, the ways in which we are communicated with are multiplying. Add a global pandemic to that, where you are seeing the same information hurled your direction multiple times a day, and you could end up with a recipe for confusion or at least a passive audience.

As a business, it can be difficult to understand how much is when it comes to communication. We want to reach everyone and ensure that customers are receiving important information. There’s always one of the oldest principles in marketing – the rule of seven – which maintains a consumer needs to see a message seven times before taking action. While that is still a good guideline, several best practices must align to ensure your messages don’t end up causing fatigue.

First, don’t give up. That is, don’t quit while you’re ahead. The very best brands have to constantly stay on top of messaging to keep customers engaged. Think about how many different McDonald’s and Coke campaigns you’ve seen in your lifetime. Consistency and regularity in how often and at what times during the week, month and year you are distributing messages are key considerations.

Second, spice it up. There is more than one way to bake a cake. You may have one definitive message you need or want to relay to your customers and you might be using multiple platforms to share that message, but the way you write and deliver it can make all the difference. Think about creative elements, such as imagery, related content, time of day and relevant happenings, that may help you drive a message home.

One way to look at this is to consider two similar businesses – let’s say dentist offices – that changed the way they serve customers due to COVID-19. One dentist office sends out regular, informative communication, including biannual appointment reminders, weekly social media content, quarterly dental hygiene email campaigns, etc. and includes necessary COVID-related messages to keep patients up to speed on protocols. The second dentist office decides to only send out necessary protocol-related information and appointment reminders, such as how to check in when you arrive at the office, mask requirements, etc. After receiving these protocol messages multiple times, we can assume most people have got it down pat. However, by refraining from engaging patients in important dental hygiene and cosmetic updates, that dentist may lose the attention of their audience because the message is no longer relevant or interesting.

 Finally, mix up what you can provide in your messages! By that, I mean take a look at your business offerings and see what else you can do to provide something “new.” New benefits, offerings or incentives can recapture the attention of your customers all while relaying your most important key points and ongoing messaging. If a competitor isn’t making moves in this area, look at what easy steps you can take now to provide a new benefit to your customers. It could be something as simple as a virtual (via Zoom or even Facebook Live) event to demonstrate a new product offering or service. Launch a new weekday incentive or take something your company has learned during the pandemic and flip a service on its head for the benefit of your customers.

 Your audience will remain engaged and attentive to your messages in the coming months as long as you find new and interesting ways to keep their attention. Even slight updates and changes in the way you deliver information will help you stave off message fatigue.

Lauren Hannaford, Director of Client Services at Obsidian Public Relations, a PR firm in Downtown Memphis. Visit for more information.