July 23, 2008

Millenials Getting the Short End of the Economic Stick

Posted in Millenial Mumblings tagged , at 12:12 pm by R

Reuters posted an article today entitled:

Young adults face tough economic struggle: study

Someone actually had to “study” that? Because…duh! It shouldn’t have taken a whole lot of effort to come up with that one.

When I graduated from Gonzaga University three years ago people were already writing about how we were coming into the workforce as the most indebted group ever. Credit card companies had been marketing to our set heavily and no one (hello banks you missed a golden PR opportunity) took the time to educate us about the importance of credit and how to use it appropriately (I’ll exclude myself on this one…thank you dad for your wisdom on spending and hard-line monitoring of my expenses:) ).

To top that off education was more expensive that ever before. Many of our peers will be paying student loans back until the edge of their mid-life crisis!

It goes with out saying that the current economic strife is another up hill battle. The rising cost of gas and food is of enormous concern. Thirty-three percent of young adult credit card holders owe more that $10,000 according to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. What’s more, that balance isn’t moving. Many are only able to pay the monthly minimum.

Dismal as all of this comes across, I have to ask, “Is there an opportunity in this?” If you’re in PR and represent a bank, I think absolutely.

This is a time for education. Knowledge is power after all. Now that the power isn’t in our pocketbooks as spenders, it needs to be in our arsenal of wisdom so we can do things the American way and pull ourselves up by the bootstrap and move along.

Some PR Strategy/Tactical ideas:

  1. Peer-to-peer Guidance: Banking has a treasure trove in its young employees. Successful banks with conservative practices (like UMB Bank who just had its SECOND quarter of earnings — which is HUGE in this banking climate) could set up innovative social networks where select young employees blog or host webinars about issues directly targeted at young bank members.
  2. Co-brand with a purpose: Banks of all sizes can pair up with similarly sized businesses to offer value-added services like a free financial planning session on or around young members’ birthdays. (It’s the new Baskin-Robbins free birthday ice cream cone or the Red Robin Birthday Burger!)
  3. Break the cycle: A wise friend of mine said (when she sent me the Reuters article), “Someone should teach this in college.” She’s absolutely right. Why didn’t the lending bank talk to me about credit when they did the exit meeting for my student loan? Why didn’t they keep in touch with me during my four years at school to keep me informed so that I’d not only be solid financially (and pay them back on time) but also, perhaps, a customer? It was a missed opportunity, but maybe it’s a greater one now.

Maybe we’ve been dealt a bad hand or maybe it’s just the perfect storm, either way, we’ve got the know-how to get out of this fiduciary rut.

Financial Millenials, assert yourself and some of these ideas and add value to your team’s work. Make your voice heard and get some help for the rest of us. 🙂

PR Millenials — you know your charge — keep people talking. Get your financial clients positioned to be part of the remedy. Encourage our newsroom peers to advocate for coverage that’s relevant to their lives and happen to be hot buzz words these days: economics, indicators, struggle, solutions.

~Robyn

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1 Comment »

  1. student loans… they will be paid off when I win the lotto!

    I owe160K. Yes, you read that right. I went to two private art schools, two really fabulous schools for undergrad (Columbia College Chicago) and grad school (Pratt Institute in NYC). I loved every minute of it, but really truly had no understanding of the massive debt I was going to owe once I graduated.

    I am very grateful for the experiences but would love for the student loan companies to stop calling me for money…


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