Short-term or working memory is like electricity. The RAM on your computer is up and working as long as you have the power on. But if your turn off your computer you lose whatever you didn’t save to your hard drive or external storage device in the cloud. In contrast, long-term memory is like a chemical reaction, as Roy H. Williams explains in his book, Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads. He explained that through the chemical reaction of long-term memory, elements of thought are transformed and imprinted, that is, made permanent, in our brain.
Moving information or thoughts from our short-term consciousness to our long-term memory is analogous to burning data onto a disk drive. Unfortunately, just as with information stored on CDs and DVDs or other external kinds of storage, scratches and dirt in the form of fatigue or boredom can disrupt people’s long-term memory. When we sleep, we lose most of our short-term memories. But that information that we (or our brain) deem to be striking and relevant will be changed into a chemical memory that we burn into our long-term memory.
Sometimes the pertinence of a message is based on its impact on our lives. This might include such visceral memories as remembering that a hot stove will burn you, or that a plant with three shiny leaves, known as poison ivy, will give you a horrible itchy rash. These are the types of memories that, if you fail to recall them, can lead to injury or even, at worst, death. At other times, though, information turns into long-term memory through repetition. When we studied for tests in school, we went over and over the same information to burn the facts into our long-term memories to change them from electrical memories to chemical ones.
The only way people will remember to buy your book, then, is if they consider that your PR message is really important, or if they hear your message so frequently that it’s burned into their memory. Most books are not of the do-or-die variety. Usually they serve an interest and offer helpful information. The frequency by which your message is heard, therefore, is as important as the impact of your message on your target audience.
In our next post, we’ll continue to explore this topic, and look at three public-relations concepts.
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