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Generation Labels and PR Strategy: Beneficial or Waste of Time?

Generation Labels and PR Strategy: Beneficial or Waste of Time?

[By Jason Mollica]

We hear and read plenty about millennials and how they impact brands’ marketing decisions.  It’s no secret that this generation of adults makes their feelings known with their social media actions and purchasing habits.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the labels that are placed on generations. The “Greatest Generation” is the label for those who fought in World War II and helped to set the United States on its path to growth. There’s the “Baby Boomers,” Generation X (my generation), and Generation Y. While marketers surely did their research on those groups, we certainly didn’t see or hear it hammered home like the Millennial label is now.

So, should we, as public relations pros, focus specific strategies for generations, or should we be looking at other ways to reach audiences without using generational information?

The answer is a resounding yes – we should be using generation-based strategies for specific campaigns. Without that, you are taking a shotgun approach and hoping the spray hits somewhere. By focusing your efforts on the right audience, along with a product that meets the needs of this generation, you are more apt to see positive results. That’s what makes for successful campaigns: solid strategy, effective engagement, and understanding your audience.

Millennials are “always-connected,” so our efforts need to reach them across devices, channels and in the language they prefer. Millennial consumers compose their own brand experiences, so they aren’t waiting to be wooed by the next marketing campaign.

Trust is also an important quality to millennials. If, as a brand, you don’t make a point to show transparency and honesty, it will affect how you are viewed. This is the case for every generation, but millennials are quick to “call you on the carpet.” Showing millennial consumers how you are collecting information and how that is being handled will lead to brand loyalty down the road. Making this information interchange mutual for both can be a very big step. When collecting and using customer information, you must give them something beneficial in exchange, like a discount or sample of the product.

Millennials also have more friends, online and off, than any other generation. According to a new report by comScore, millennials spend an average of two hours per day on social and entertainment apps. Nearly 26% of millennials spend their time on Facebook. While Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Twitter have strong numbers, Facebook dwarfs all the others. Millennials base much of their social existence on their online following, and what friends think.

When marketing to millennials, it is essential to develop your brand in such a way that millennials would like to support it. Millennials don’t want the hard sell. They want to relate to your brand and be passionate about it. Brands can gain followers by posting in a “real” way – not one that appears fake or tries too hard to fit in.

The faster we as PR pros understand that millennials can make us better, the faster we’ll see more successes.

How do your strategies fit into the millennial conversation? Let us know in the comments.

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