Attention management through emotionalization


5. November 2021

All for the clicks?

Whether it’s in the news or on social media, everyone is constantly getting excited about something. Issues are controversially discussed and receive enormous attention, although often only a few people are directly affected by the topic. The journalist Matthias Zender calls this phenomenon “attention management. ” This means that news is no longer about their relevance, but about their clickability. Through emotionalization, scandalization and personalization, events are presented exaggeratedly and should generate attention and provide discussion potential. The internet is exacerbating this trend: billions of websites compete for user clicks, which is why attention-gathering methods are constantly being used.  

This issue also plays an important role in PR. Two of our clients have been extraordinary prominently represented in the media in recent months. One could observe how, after the publication of an article, many other media suddenly reported intensively on the event. Crises in particular can become independent due to attention management and lead to a downward spiral due to numerous negative articles. The task of PR is then to detect this downward trend early on and to react to it by crisis communication. However, attention management can also lead to more positive reporting. This phenomenon is therefore not necessarily a disadvantage for the PR industry – it just needs to learn how to handle it properly.