By Robyn Brown

I read once that there is more information in the Sunday issue of The New York Times than one person in 1850 would learn in a lifetime.

There’s a similar story online. In 2009, 90 trillion emails were sent over the Internet. Of the 234 million web sites that make up the Internet – 47 million were added last year. Twitter is now handling 600 tweets per second. Thirty billion photos are uploaded to Facebook every year. New content is being pushed to the average person at an alarmingly fast rate.

Communications professionals need to consider how to make their words rise above a mountain of information. How do we capture attention and keep it? How do we compete with… well, everything else?

There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to write things that people will value. Your content – tweets, blogs, article, news, videos – should help your audience. It should be thought-provoking and relevant. If it helps people improve knowledge, skills or their ability to complete a task, it has value.

Alex Bragg, founder of A Bajillion Hits, takes it a step further in a recent Fast Company interview: “You have to have killer content. You can’t just put any kind of garbage out there and expect the Internet to engage with it.”

Also, our attention spans are getting shorter. So, get to your point faster. Cut down on the number of words in your news release. Add bullets. I guarantee writing news in 140-character tweets is good practice.

Feeling the pressure

We recently worked with Microsoft’s Worldwide Oil & Gas team to share findings from its information and computing trends study. One survey finding in particular caught my attention. Over 44% of respondents said the information explosion in the upstream oil and gas industry has had a negative effect on their job performance.

Respondents complained about:

  • Difficult and time-consuming search of diverse systems to find information (44 percent)
  • Data appearing in unstructured forms not easily captured or archived (44 percent)
  • Too much redundant and/or unnecessary data available (35 percent)

I don’t think this trend is limited to just one industry. Most of us are overburdened with information.

Commit to rise above the clutter and respect your readers’ time limitations. As Information Age professionals, communicators should strive for content with value, brevity and relevance.