Are your stories actually worth the time?

It’s 8 a.m., and you step on to the subway to get to work. You automatically look down at your phone, and your scrolling thumb takes over, zooming through Instagram and going down the proverbial rabbit hole of everything from videos of your best friend’s Miami vacation to soul-shaking quotes about optimism. The next thing you know, you’ve arrived at your stop, only to realize that 30 minutes have passed by in what feels like an instant.

Though we may not realize it, with each click, we make a choice. We actively decide which of the trillions of pieces of material that exists in cyberspace is worth our time. Every pixel we interact with takes time away from us — time that we seem to have far less of in today’s high-speed, technology-driven world.

Thanks to this hyper-digitized environment, crafting stories that will captivate and enthrall an audience is more crucial than ever before. Every piece of content that surfaces today competes against billions of other pixels for attention. As someone who helms a consultancy in the business of content creation, my team’s work is guided by an awareness of this competition. And in this age of virtual substance overload — and subsequent abuse — we place great value on time. Stories must stand out and be worth the time they take to consume (and, equally important, the time they take to create).

So, how do we begin to uphold the importance of good storytelling with only seconds to make an impact? The answer lies in four principles: integrity, intent, prescience and efficiency. Our team uses these principles as a framework for our own creative process.

To gain an audience’s trust and respect, integrity is key. One of the best ways to do this is by making experts into creators. For instance, we employ trusted journalists and seasoned designers to craft the work we put forth for our clients, tapping authorities on specific topics along the way to make the information we relay as rich and nuanced as our discerning audience demands.

Each branded piece must also have intent behind it. Does the information reflect the organization’s strategy and purpose? We check these boxes religiously. This is not to say that creativity and flexibility are sidelined, but that they don’t take us off course from our client’s goals.

Prescience — anticipating the future — is equally important. What resonates with a reader today may not have the same effect one year from now. A constantly evolving, forward-looking vision is essential. With that in mind, we created a system of dedicated team members ready to bring a fresh perspective to any project.

And of course, every single piece of content put into today’s vast digital landscape needs to be efficient. Consumers don’t have a lot of time to spend, and every moment they do have is precious. Highlighting key quotes, statistics or compelling angles can transform longer-form narratives into informative, bite-sized stories optimized for quick and memorable absorption.

While the constant feeling of acceleration and excess in today’s digital world can easily overwhelm, the power to build and control narratives still inspires us to do the work we do every day — to create stories our audiences can’t ignore and to craft content that is undoubtedly and unquestionably worthy of their one non-renewable resource. All we must remember to do is respect their time.