Tamara has been working for the past 4 months as a summer student learning the ins-and-outs of strategic communications here at NOW. She takes her leave of us for the fall today… but first, here’s her insightful take on communicating with her generation.
“We do have a sense of entitlement, a sense of ownership, because, after all, this is the world we were born into, and we are responsible for it.”
—Snapchat creator and CEO Evan Spiegel, 25, addressing labels often associated with Millennials
Evan Spiegel’s words ring true for many in my generation – we do feel a sense of ownership over this world.
For Millennial generation outsiders — and those trying to communicate with us — this mentality can be hard to understand, and reasonably so. But our sense of entitlement isn’t rooted in greed, but rather a sense of responsibility for our communities and our planet. This misinterpretation highlights the shift that has occurred in the communications landscape.
Growing up alongside the Internet revolution was surely going to influence how Millennials think, communicate and express themselves. And as more Millennials enter the workforce (and more baby boomers leave it), labour communicators need to be able to connect with them effectively.
Here are a three approaches for doing just that:
1. Speak their language, on their platforms
Don’t change what you’re saying – just how and where you’re saying it. Modernize the language in your messaging and strip it of confusing insider jargon or heavy rhetoric.
Often Millennials are saturated in news, images, and messages – meaning your content will be fighting for their attention. Keep it short and simple, and add a little light humour. Taking a powerful message or honest critique of your opponent, and adding a bit of humour, can go along way in making sure you stands out.
Make sure you’re reaching out on the right platform. Newsletters and email are great for getting information out there, but Millennials are a lot less likely to engage in those channels than via social media outlets like Instagram or Twitter.
While Millennials — like every other generation — still engage with traditional media like radio and TV, they’re turning increasingly to streaming services and online channels, which makes it increasingly vital to invest in communications on these platforms.
And know the conversational tools that connect. Craft witty hashtags and share your photos in places where young people will notice them. Using inclusive language that makes them feel like they’re part of the movement (don’t be that guy at the party talking incessantly about himself) on a platform they are familiar with will attract them to your organization.
That doesn’t mean becoming something you’re not. Avoid adopting an unconvincing, inauthentic voice. (Authenticity is one of the other words that come up a lot when people talk about Millennials.) Don’t try to sound like a craft-beer-brewing 22-year-old hipster if that isn’t who you are. Communicating honestly and directly will get you a lot further.
2. Show them your interests are in line
Don’t assume Millennials automatically see how the goals and work of your union are similar to their own workplace ideals.
There is a growing concern among Millennials about work safety, precarious employment, fear of under-pay and over-work, living costs, etc. And we are well aware that cuts have hurt every sector and that establishing ourselves will be difficult.
What not a lot of Millennials don’t see, however, is that unions can help us fight for better standards. Show them your drive and passion, and relate it to the same resolve they feel.
3. Collaborate and consult with existing young members
I’ve read countless articles detailing the ‘annoying’ habit Millennials have acquired of seeking almost constant collaboration and consultation in every aspect of their life.
But taking the time to listen to, and even test, some of their innovative ideas about procedure and organization can be profitable. If a Millennial feels heard by their union, they will feel like they are a part of it. And when they share their positive experience with their friends, that will lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of the work unions do among this generation.
Take the time to sit down with young members, go visit them in their workplace, talk to them and make them feel like they are a part of the movement. They’ll be your greatest ally in building support and cultivating your union’s future.