Understanding how new generations operate is key for today's PR pros

Editor-in-chief Steve Barrett delves into what the PR industry needs to understand about influence in the digital sphere, and the influencers behind new trends.

Influence is the bedrock of great communications. If you get someone to speak on your behalf or take a positive view, it is much more effective than one-way messages to disengaged audiences.

Whether it’s through a trusted media outlet, staff, investors, customers, or public officials, influence is the essence of earned media and, hence, PR.

But how do you define influence in 2016? Think how you consume content nowadays. You probably read a newspaper, online not in print. Magazines? September issues are still stuffed full of ads, but you find yourself throwing those glossies away unread after a few weeks.

TV? Yes, mostly on catchup to suit you; Fallon and Kimmel on YouTube the morning after. You might check out a high-profile live event, such as the Oscars or Super Bowl, but that’s about it.

Whichever medium, it will likely be filtered through social media. Often you won’t even realize where content originates, beyond the fact you clicked on it in Facebook.

But new generations operate in totally different ways, and if you work in communications you need to understand this changing reality.

The pace of technological change is compressing generational shifts and producing micro-generations.

Gen Z and Alpha are concerned much more with privacy. They grew up with social media and know its dangers. It’s even making them more conservative on social. And they’re looking to different sources for recommendations.

Immerse yourself in our special feature on new influence and new influencers and find out what it takes to engage in a credible and effective dialogue with future consumers and stakeholders.

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