Scarcity of Attention: How to Overcome Our Biggest PR Challenge

[Editor’s Note: We asked Jamie Mustard, author of “The Iconist, the Art and Science of Standing Out,” (BenBella Books, 2019) to discuss standing out in a crowded market.]

Jamie Mustard, CEO, The Iconist

The most significant PR challenge of our time is overcoming the scarcity of attention from potential customers.

Bombarded relentlessly with information, a deluge of products and services, and too many unsubstantiated claims, potential customers have tuned out, and become all but unreachable. Now resistant to communication, they can’t process 5 percent of what is thrown at them, maybe even less.

In 1998, researcher Linda Stone coined the term “continuous partial attention.” It describes how most of us are so distracted by all of the advertising and messaging constantly bombarding us. As a result, we only partially pay attention to anything.

At the time of Stone’s concept, the internet was not yet in full swing and social media was decades away. Let that sink in for a moment.

Today, the digital interaction we experience includes responding to email and Slack, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, text messages, mobile calls, etc. This is reality. We are beginning to realize the effects of the overwhelming messaging assault it brings.


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