Communication Lessons From The Summer Songs of 2017

Living the Life

Dan Farkas

Communication Lessons From The Summer Songs of 2017

Aug 29, 2017 | Living the Life

Communication Lessons From The Summer Songs of 2017

Aug 29, 2017 | Living the Life

This is a guest post from Solo PR Pro Premium member, Dan Farkas. Dan  is a Lecturer of Strategic Communication at Ohio University, owner of Dan Farkas Interactive, and dad to Leah & Will. Connect with him @danfarkas or call email him at

“Dad. Why do we have to listen to this music?”

I said this to my dad back in 1985 on a family road trip. The song I wanted to hear…really, it was this.

“Dad. Why do we have to listen to this music?”

 My 7-year-old daughter, Leah, said this to me earlier in the week during a family road trip. The song she wanted to hear (and subsequently sang along with during the ride) almost made my head explode.


As the circle of life continues and the end of summer approaches, the songs of summer made me ponder the profession. After all, if these songs can’t get out of your head because they’re so catchy, you might as well learn something. Let’s start with Mr. Sheeran.

“You and me are thrifty, so go all you can eat
Fill up your bag and I fill up a plate.”

It feels like this summer of social has revolved around measurement. Arik Hanson made great points about a decline in engagement, and brands have found themselves in an awkward social space.  Much like Ed Sheeran’s all-you-can eat meal, the statistics used to measure social success are often empty calories.

Chevy has 19 million people following them on Facebook. A review of posts showed around 2,300 people liking each post. That 2,300 might look great but It’s just 0.00012% of their audience. How can anyone justify that number as a success in any societal realm?

Now, if one person bought a car because of every Chevy social post, that’s a win. How do brands know their social media creates impact?  There has to be measurement that transitions from empty calories to business protein.

Easy to type. How do brands start? Paging Mr. Bieber

I'm the one, yeah, oh-eh-oh oh-eh-oh
I'm the one oh-eh-oh oh-eh-oh
I'm the only one oh-eh-oh oh-eh-oh
I'm the one oh-eh-oh oh-eh-oh
I'm the only one


Repetition is annoying, far more annoying than this song that is entrenched in my soul at the moment. Brands have to realize what is repetitive for them might not be repetitive for their audience.

A colleague of mine at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism highlighted a study that says the average person receives 30,000 messages a day. Nearly 90 percent of those messages aren’t remembered. In one ear, out the other.

Persistence matters. Overcoming internal message bias to gain an outside perspective is crucial and necessary for communication success. Our audience is flooded to fatigue; brands too often forget that. If a journalist is looking for a second source, and shouldn’t we all be looking for second sources, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have my back on this.

Hey oh
Listen what I say, oh
I got your hey oh
Now listen what I say, oh


The one adult concert I’ve attended this year (the rest involved Kratt brothers or princesses) featured a bunch of former punk rockers in their 50’s. They have more energy than I can fathom, and it’s that energy that is pivotal for a successful communication campaign.

It used to be that the average person/brand would have to say something 3-11 times for something to stick. In meeting with a behavior psychologist over the summer, I learned those with attention deficits need to hear something between 30-100 times for something to stick.

You may not have ADHD, but how many times have you looked at your phone, email, tablet or another tab while reading this column? How much is on your Outlook calendar at the moment? We are a distracted society.

Then do the math. If people hear your message one out of 10 times and need to hear something between 3-100 times before it sticks, how much more do brands need to communicate now than three, five or ten years ago?

You can pray for viral or train for a marathon.  Get your summer Spotify list on cue.

“Who's gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?

It ain't me”

Selena Gomez probably wasn’t thinking about the COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) model, but brands not COPING need to redesign their strategy ASAP.  They also must find ways to collaborate in the sake of shared purpose to survive the digital rat race. This is especially true for smaller organizations and non-profits that have limited capacity. Social ROI simply isn’t justifiable if you’re all alone.

“Last call, last chance
Last song, last dance
Sometimes you just don't know when that's gonna be”

The reason I hammer strategy so much is that it frees up moments of opportunity and capacity to make the most of those. Nobody knows when something might go viral. Nobody knows when a crisis will occur. Nobody knows when a business opportunity arises out of left field.

Time is a precious commodity easily stolen. Successful brands take rare opportunities and suck every last bit of juice out of it. Brands struggling to get through today and next week’s calendar find themselves singing a sad song.

Regardless of when schools start, it’s still summer. You should be happy. We should be happy. Use these finals days of the season to shore up your communication strategy to ensure sunny days for months and years to come. Now if I could only get Leah to like Portugal The Man….

Portugal The Man


Written By Karen Swim
Karen Swim is the President of Solo PR and Founder of public relations agency, Words For Hire.

1 Comment

  1. We need to repeat an repeat untill we remenber the message. The same with advertise but sometimes it get annoying so there always have to exist a balance.