On Thursday 3rd November, we attended a mashup* event about effective public relations with “screenagers”.
Screenagers, generation Y, millenials, digital natives...this group of savvy young communicators have been given all sorts of catchy titles. In short, these are the people who know more about social media than media, more about social networking than networking.
One of the presentations, from a pre-university student, Eleanor Berney to a room full of media and marketing professionals largely in their 20s, 30s and 40s, summed up one of the key topics of the discussion: should we teach screenagers, or should we learn from them?
Certainly, as PR consultants, effective communications with different audiences is our most important tool. These are our top five take-outs for future success.
1. Social media is never anti-social
As social media is the ultimate way of connecting, sharing and consuming, it should be incorporated into all experiences. For the screenagers, what’s anti-social is to not constantly communicate. Tweeting during conversations with friends and Facebooking pictures throughout an event is a way of life and ultra (not anti) social. This is why you’ll never find a screenager in a room without mobile network coverage for long – proprietors, take note.
2. Screenagers do have awareness and discretion
Screenagers know their social media and how to use it. So it’s no surprise that social media is neatly compartmentalised:
- Facebook is for personal usage
- Linkedin is for business usage
- Twitter is for everyone
- Google plus is for no one
Screenagers consider their audience. They are fully aware that they are putting themselves in the public eye and are confident that they know how to best represent themselves on the right resources.
3. Advocacy may be even more important than we realised
Public relations agencies have long been talking about the importance of advocacy and of brand advocates; communicating with the most influential media, the most influential bloggers and driving conversation. But when communicating to screenagers, we need to take this to the furthest possible extreme. The screenagers we talked to, take to Twitter to ask a question, then might try Facebook, and only then might they try Google. They don’t trust newspapers and their motives; instead, they get their information from friends or followers – whom they trust. Plus, when they’ve got so much going on in their world, Twitter’s 140 characters is way more digestible than a Sunday broadsheet’s 140 pages.
4. The restrictions that brands and marketers need to be aware of
Screenagers are not massively concerned about “their” data being sold for money, but more so about people knowing information that they shouldn’t. As a result, they make it their business to stay on top of changes in privacy settings – which Facebook is renowned for. With their confidence high in their own abilities online, screenagers are more concerned about their families revealing all on social networks. They see themselves as the digital angels, who help those who are not so tech savvy to change privacy settings.
5. For effective public relations, digital is the “D” in DNA
These bright young things wouldn’t take a job that doesn’t involve social media. But what PR agency job wouldn’t, now, offer just that? (On which matter, what client brief doesn’t appreciate that digital PR is at the heart, not just a part, of any campaign now?) These days, shared experiences drive consumer communication – and shared experiences happen mostly via social media. A leading public relations agency is one that converges digital and PR for its clients; let’s allow the screenagers to help us keep ahead of the curve.