echo chamber

Are Echo Chambers a Problem for PR and Inbound Marketing

The ‘death’ of print media has been a longstanding debate among people in a wide range of industries including pundits, public relations professionals, social scientists, and marketing professionals. A recent argument of the shifting of media consumption is that people are becoming entrenched in an echo chamber and only consuming media that fits their preconceived notions and worldview. Sadly as to be expected young people in Generations Y and Z are being noted as an example of those too caught in an echo chamber of their own beliefs. With articles about young people and their lifestyle choices reaching a level of banal rarely seen it is important to take a balanced look at modern media consumption.

Are Echo Chambers New?

In a word no. Echo chambers or to be more precise writing aligning with a specific set of ideas or worldview has existed long before the internet with newspapers, magazines, and various newsletters. Also, complaints about the uninformed youth ruining society have existed for centuries. What has changed is that internet access has not only made it easier to find news sources that fit your worldview but also research any statements these sources make for validity. The younger generation is far more selective due to information being easily accessible.

Modern Media Habits

A defining trait of modern young people is the search for authenticity in the businesses they frequent and spend their time (and money) engaging with. The search for authenticity is centered around not only social awareness but also an honesty concerning facts and not preserving a specific view in the face of reality. It extends not only to products but also media.

The Daily Mail impressively managed to get themselves banned as a source on Wikipedia this is notable because Wikipedia is largely apolitical and allows sources from a wide spectrum of ideologies provided they are well researched. The Daily Mail in response to this was not to defend their research abilities but to deflect, point at other publications, and try and frame a Wikipedia editor as the leader of a conspiracy against their publication. The answer was much more mundane as a vote was held finding their reporting standards to be unreliable and the discussion had been ongoing since 2015.

When taken in a broader sense the younger generations would not consider the Daily Mail to be worthwhile as a news source not because of political leanings but due to presenting falsehoods and when noted as such they responded to this claim, not as a serious news organisation would but as a defensive conspiracy theorist. Cheap excuses can be seen through by most people and for a younger generation that values authenticity, they (like many) will not consider the Daily Mail’s content worthwhile.

Solving The Problem

The simplest solution to beating the ‘echo chamber’ effect is two fold. Be honest and present quality.

  1. Honest Writing: authenticity in a news source, PR release, marketing article, etc. relates to its honesty. If you want the younger generation to view your work as relevant the first step is honesty. Don’t deny facts, misrepresent easily verified information, also don’t write to force a viewpoint no matter what that viewpoint may be. Let the reality of the data speak for itself.
  2. Present Quality: a quality work serves some kind of purpose or goal. It should inform the reader, educate them, solve a problem, or answer a question. Write something that is worth the reader’s time give them something to take away with them when they are done.

These two elements when combined allow you to break through and become a respected resource people will then point to your work as a statement of truth. Also, echo chambers have overlap and people don’t belong to not one but several covering an assortment of groups, hobbies, and interests. So an article you wrote that became popular in political echo chambers could filter down to a music echo chamber. This overlap can lead to audiences you may not have even considered. Lastly, you may be able to be anti-authentic and have success, however, over the long term, this will destroy your respectability because once you’re labelled as a fraud that’s nearly impossible to recover from.

Disclaimer: We don’t like the Dail Mail, but the move to authenticity might just be the reaction needed. Their shock driven content is quite something, watch this bit of fun.


Further Reading: Our Series of Blogs Dealing with PR