Digital PR for millennials is evolving, and digital PR executives need to evolve too. Right now, millennials make up a quarter of the UK population and it is expected that there will be 17 million of them by 2019. As the first generation to have been raised in a world where the internet and Google are commonplace, the realm of communication and how we connect to each other, and the rest of the world, is unparalleled.
This can also be said for the way they interact with brands. Our culture of decision making and a shift in audience influence has moved quite far from traditional PR methods. PR professionals now have to acknowledge and move whichever way the millennial wind blows, or get left behind.
Here are some reasons why PR has to evolve with the millennials:
We consume media differently: Social PR
Millennials spend on average 54 hours a week consuming media, compared to a non-millennial’s average of 56. Despite us spending nearly the same number of hours a week consuming media as older generations, a majority of those hours are spent away from traditional media.
A report by LEK consulting claims that the time we spend on our smartphones, tablets and laptops actually accounts for two thirds of millennial media consumption. In fact, we spend the least amount of time on traditional media than any other generation. Welcome to new media.
The traditional platforms of print, television and radio have been overshadowed by millennials love for social media, the internet and online music downloads. Which means social PR professionals must have a firm understanding of these social platforms.
Social PR is now a key component for any campaign, which will give you stronger results. You don’t have to spend hours on Snapchat thinking of a new brand filter for your client to use, or take notes on the top people on Instagram. But you do need to pay close attention to the kind of content that is catching the eye of millennials across these pages.
Remember, you have a quarter of the country to try and reach, so use their media platforms to your advantage.
So,what are those digital media platforms?
One of the most beneficial aspects of the new millennial age to PR professionals is that the people who we wish to target can now be found in the same place. There are now a multitude of different social platforms that have our attention and that we consume our media from. For example:
We now get our news from our smartphones
According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Research, 51% of millennials access the news via social media, a trend that is undermining traditional PR methods. Across 26 countries, including the UK, 44% of Facebook users go onto the site, via the app or website, for their news. This is followed by 19% for YouTube. Is your reach hitting these top news sites?
We crave digital content
This is taking the traditional method of PR pitching and slightly turning it on its head. Instead of sending dozens of press releases to print publications, or having your press release be at the mercy of a news editor, we can now create and syndicate our very own content for blogs, vloggers and social media.
In fact, 62% of millennials agree that if a brand or business engage with them on social media, they’ll be much more likely to become a loyal customer- which could be great news for your business.
Have you considered video content? Live streaming? Snap chatting the event that you distributed that press release for? Millennials are constantly watching and producing content, and vloggers are 62-63% more influential among the young teen/adult demographic. If appropriate for your next PR campaign, a collaboration with a vlogger could boost the influence and authority of your client’s brand or message.
Still not sold? Take the world of beauty as an example. The average beauty vlogger on YouTube can generate around 438,770 views in a single monthly circulation. Compare that to magazines such as Vogue, who’s average circulation is less than 200,000 people. You cannot argue with that difference in reach.
Fewer millennials are responding to traditional PR campaign techniques or traditional methods. So we now have to find out what social platforms they are most responsive to. We now have to meet them where they are.
Everything is instantaneous
Those in Digital PR beware – we are very much the ‘one-click millennials.’ If you are offering a service that could be of use to us, but isn’t on the first page of Google’s search results, at a push on the second page, we won’t bother looking for it. Why? Because by this time, we’ve seen plenty of other services and companies who have caught our attention.
Snapchat grasped this concept perfectly with 10 second video snippets that provide real footage of what their favourite people and brands are up to. It also allows your audience to respond to you in a more intimate way than a Facebook or Twitter post. Remember, Digital PR is all about creating relationships between your business and your audience. So what better way to do that than bringing your content directly to them, with no fishing around and no wait time!
So start with a social media monitoring tool. This is one of the most effective ways to find out what’s going on with your target audience. Find the most used keywords, hashtags, usernames and URLs of the day. Social media tools are also a great resource for understanding your competitors’ customer base and seeing how they compare.
Some of the best tools for this include:
They collect data from 80 million sources, not just social media. These can include news sources, blogs and online forums.
A great tool to see who has shared content across a range of social media platforms. It can also show you what users from which accounts have tweeted and interacted with a topic.
Simple but effective. It will scan a range of publications for keyword mentions that relate back to your business, and you can easily filter these results.
One of the most popular options available, you can easily track and manage your own social media channels on the site, as well as live stream key words you want to track, to see what people are looking up in real-time.
Be sure to take advantage of your social media presence, and the fact that you can so easily target your audience.
This isn’t an attempt to make traditional PR methods obsolete. A mention in a top media publication is still very much in demand by the smartest PR professionals. But the best PR plans now involve the perfect balance of old and new.
This is a change that PR professionals cannot afford to be stubborn about. In the UK, millennials are an incredibly powerful consumer force to be reckoned with. They hold £170 billion of spending power in their hands, which is only set to increase yearly. Build that social reach and engage.
The impact of outside influence on digital PR for millennials
A millennial’s trust in a brand or company is no longer dependent on expert opinions or review sites. In a study by Bazaarvoice, over 50% of us trust the online presence and voice of a stranger more than we would our own friends and family. We now have to follow the millennial lead, and have them advocate for you, instead of advocating to them.
These ‘strangers’ now come in the form of social media influencers. These influencers range from ‘Instagram models’ to celebrities and everyone in between. If the following is there, we are more likely to listen.
A survey of 500 PR and marketing professionals done by the Takumi app, has found that 82% of those asked were using these influencers in one way or another.
Brands like Adidas demonstrate perfectly how this is done, on an incredible scale. The breaking news of Paul Pogba’s record breaking return to Manchester United was announced by one of the UK’s most influential grime artists, Stormzy…on Twitter. Within hours, this gained over 13,000 retweets and 20,000 favourites on his Twitter page and went viral.
Rather than opting for the traditional press conference and photo shoot, the reveal of Pogba’s return was meticulously planned by Manchester United and their Adidas sponsor and gained Pogba over 150,000 mentions since its release. Bringing in Stormzy to the announcement was the perfect partnership. The brand recognised the weight of Stormzy’s influence amongst their target audience and used this to their advantage on his biggest social media platform. Pogba’s news was a brilliant celebrity PR stunt filmed like a TV ad.
As for Manchester United, the post was the club’s most retweeted post of all time, and gained them 89k followers since its share. On Instagram, it was the club’s most liked post of all time, gaining 637,000 likes. If that PR campaign was launched on television, you can’t argue that the impact from their targeted demographic would be the same. Millennials know what they want, and when they find it, the outreach work will pretty much do itself.
If you haven’t already done so, it is worth investing time in understanding and keeping on top of consumer culture and digital trends. They aren’t a replacement for traditional methods, but incorporating what you’ve learned into your PR methods adds an exciting new edge to public relations.