The 10 biggest changes in communications in this generation

White and black typewriter

Here’s a short quiz – what was the year?

  • BBC began broadcasting in DAB,
  • First Toy Story film was released,
  • 1% of UK homes now have internet access.

Yes it was…1995. From a communications point of view it was the end of one era and the beginning of a bright new communications generation. Out went typewriters, telex machines and Filofaxes, and in came the internet, email and mobile phones. Here are 10 major changes in communications that have taken place in the last generation. 

  1. Speed – the internet means we are be instantly updated, rather than waiting for tomorrow’s paper. Attention span is decreasing especially in young people.
  2. Mobile – communications is now on the move. In 1973 Martin Cooper, a Motorola Executive, made the first mobile call from a handheld device. It was 23cm by 13cm and weighed over a kilogramme. Today the number of mobile phones in operation exceeds the number of people in the world, 7bn.
  3. The power of the individual – characterised by the rise of the smart phone which allows individuals to engage, protest, campaign, watch and listen, consuming or participating at will.
  4. Connected – our generation is connected; anytime, anyone, anywhere.
  5. Information overload – we process more information – news, sport, entertainment, financial and personal data – than ever and our expectations are still rising.
  6. Transparency and accountability –largely driven by social media, celebrities, politicians and businesses are now open to public scrutinisation as information moves more freely and widely available
  7. Visual – Communication is driven by visual images and video, which are cheap and accessible
  8. Cost – Mass communications are cheaper, but there’s more direct marketing, spam emails, instant messaging and advertising than ever
  9. Choice – we choose how and when we receive information, and the change in broadcasting regulations means there are more channels to choose from
  10. Less personal – the phone doesn’t ring and we are becoming fearful of face to face communication

Effective communications is audience focused. Sydney J Harris, an American writer, said, “The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”

Today’s challenge is not about putting information out but rather, getting through, so your message can be heard against the plethora of other voices. To be effective our communications should be fast and furious, engaging and participatory, accessible and contagious, and if possible visual.


How does your business measure up?  with the practical list in the final para above? Do you send out fast, regular and engaging content that is mobile friendly? Is there an interesting piece of content from your website you could tweet?

SpiritLevel Communications exists to help good people say important things. To help you increase the effectiveness of your communications, Spiritlevel is offering a free Communications MOT, just get in touch to book a free consultation, no strings attached!