January 6, 2009

How Social Media Will Solve the Generation Gap

Posted in Millenial Mumblings at 8:38 pm by R

It could easily be argued that one of the major themes of 2008 was the emergence of Gen Y in the corporate world and the ruckus we caused in all sorts of ways.

Terms like “spoiled,” “job-hoppers,” “craving affirmation” and “gold-starred” aside, one positive thing Gen Y has been acknowledged for is their natural aptitude for technology…more specifically in relation to social media.

While the divide between Gen Y and, well, everyone else seemed wide in 2008, I strongly believe that 2009 will be the year we bridge the gap, in a truly unlikely manner.

This bridging of the gap I speak of, will come about as a necessity. As traditional media formats give way to newer social media alternatives, the people in charge will need experts who can teach them how to use, utilize and effectively implement social media strategies into various facets of communication and basic business function.

Who will those experts be???

Gen Y, of course.

I predict that our aptitude for adapting to social media will help Gen Y-ers across the board harness leadership and earn respect in a way that no one really expected. After all, some of these social media — MySpace, Facebook — are practically synonymous with Gen Y and perhaps some of the frustrations of 2008…

For Gen Y, social media is really second nature. For other generations, the prospect is intimidating.

Granted, social media is a bit nebulous. It’s ever-growing, ever-expanding and far-reaching. The thought of being that exposed and “out there” is a little daunting.

Savvy Gen Y’s (I’m talking to you communicators of the world) will help higher-ups adapt and implement social media strategically with a mind for taking the lead and keeping others informed about the goings-on in social media.

Once we’ve helped our managers, bosses and the like capture the principles of applications like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. half the gap will have been closed…all because of social media.

Yes, other differences between generations will remain. But if we can start to tear down the social media wall that’s between us…that bridge will be well on it’s way to built.



September 24, 2008

Gen Y Lambasting

Posted in Millenial Mumblings tagged at 10:33 am by R

I was at a conference last week for a client. It was an extremely interesting event. I got to put a lot of names with faces, be a part of the 2009 strategy launch and was one of only a handful of Gen Yers in attendance.

As part of the conference we discussed how to engage younger users and how to attract, keep and grow younger talent into leadership.

During the section on generational differences, the presenter asked:

What are some characteristics of Millenials?

When from across the room in response, with out raising a hand, came a drenched-with-distaste:

Entitled. Everyone needs to get a gold star.

People around the room lightly chuckled in agreement. It wasn’t so much the actual statement, but the way  it was delivered that really got me — and the crowd’s reaction. There’s some downright bitterness toward our generation!

Our presenter asked what other characteristics there were. Several other people answered with less-than-flattering comments, generalizations and other stereotypes (like lack of patience, “job-hoppers,” and impatient) about Gen Y. Finally I’d had it. I raised my hand and said:

We grew up with technology. The entirety of our formative years has taken place at a time when the world was obsessed with going at a faster and faster pace because of new technology. We have little patience for paper or elongated processes because we’ve been trained to know there’s probably a better and faster way to do it.

Silence. Just silence.

In that silence, I realized we are a conundrum unto older generations. They just don’t know what to do with us. It’s hard for people to understand what we are able to contribute and it seems that the focus is on “breaking” our “bad habits,” not utilizing the natural skills we bring to the proverbial table.

Some of the questions I heard posed that day included:

  1. How do I make them adhere to my values?
  2. Why don’t they do things the way they ought to be done – the way they always have been done?
  3. Why don’t they work as hard?

If I may quickly dispell these:

  1. Whoa. Why can’t we share our values? Isn’t it possible there’s some common ground there? Collaboration and acceptance is a big thing for Gen Y. It takes everyone to be a genius.
  2. The way things are done is simply not the way they will continue to be done — in everything. Tiiiiiiiimes, they are a’ changin’. Millennials have a fresh perspective and forward-looking attitude on technology. Change is scary for many, especially those who aren’t superb with new technology, but it’s happening anyway. Gen Y’s natural aptitude can be an asset in this transition.
  3. WHAT!? I’m attached to my Blackberry 24/7. I work from home at night, on the weekend, on vacation. Being a hard worker doesn’t mean being in the office any longer. The office isn’t a requirement for working hard. It’s not out-of-office-off-of-work anymore. That’s a paradigm that’s going to change forever.

We’ve got to be ambassadors for the positive characteristics that our generation can bring to the workforce. We have to help people ease into the inevitable change and wave of things to come. That’s one of our strengths; to adapt to technology. And there’s a few more…but that’s another post.

And hopefully, other generations will consider the ways we can benefit the workplace, not just the nagging stereotypes that have clearly been branded on us.

Gold stars for everyone!


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.