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Using public relations to engage with millennials

1st May 2014


Yesterday PRmoment held its first conference in India. The event was all about how brands in India can engage with millennials.

The conference was held at the IIMC in Delhi and 90 Indian PR folks attended.

Here are a few thoughts on the what the speakers had to say:

An experience approach

Gayatri Rath, communications director at Microsoft discussed how they take an integrated approach when targeting millennials. Microsoft's strategy is that their content must be available on demand and always be accessible to consumers and their customers. They have a multi-device audience and therefore require a wide range of content. Like many other international brands, Microsoft have taken an experience approach to content, with their communications via owned channels becoming increasingly more important.

A journalist's perspective

NDTV's Gopal Sathe discussed, from the journalists perspective, what stories appeal to millennials. Gopal concluded that any news outlet must have a good mix of stories, including stories that are fun. If you want people to read the serious articles, media owners must write fun things too. When pitching stories relevant for millennials PR people should bear this in mind because it will make their pitch much more appealing. Hi it looks fine. Gopal also recommended that PR folks should share photos, infographics and decent sized visuals in their pitches - again this will increase the chances of you gaining coverage.

The use of data

Deepa Thomas discussed how eBay use data to create stories for its specific audiences and in this instance, millennials. I suspect this will be a growing trend within communications in India.

Dr Ranjit Nair from Germin8 brought to life the importance of data when attempting to communicate with specific audiences. My view is that PR people should be doing this anyway, but if you want to reach a certain sector, or demographic segment, you must understand your audience's needs, their tastes and their consumption of media (be that that online broadcast, social. print etc.)

Without this base data knowledge you are essentially shooting in the dark. This is not to say that PR should be all about data but it should be a strong influence on your decisions. Needless to say creativity and judgement are also important.

Owned Content

Deepak Jolly, vice president of public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola India talked about the Coke Studio program. Coke studio increases the awareness of Coke within territories and when brand activity increases, as long as Coke's distribution is good enough, increased sales of Coke follow.

The Coke Studio case study is an example of owned media content that is then packaged and delivered across many channels, in different formats, to engage and communicate with an audience, in this instance millennials. Coke Studio is one of the best examples that I have seen where brands haven't taken the faster, harder, and more dangerous approach to content. This is the approach successfully taken by Red Bull but it means that stunts have to become even more extreme, which presumably limits its sustainability. Once you've jumped out of space, nothing quite seems to eclipse that!

Coke Studio is an example of a sustainable content theme which is a force for good, has engaged a community and has created some highly successful musicians who are now millionaires! All in all, it was a pretty good idea, with good delivery!

Mahesh Murthy from Pinstorm discussed how the Indian elections are potentially the world's biggest ‘exercise’ for digital PR. Mahesh gave us a really interesting insight into the different online awareness levels that the political parties’ campaigns were yielding. He outlined how the AAP, through the humorous, sometimes dramatic content, combined with the use of stunts is enabling APP to punch well above their weight in terms of PR results and media spend.

I don't want to get into a political argument, but AAP's approach to digital media, in the face of being outspent by its political rivals is interesting.

Final thoughts

I would suggest that Millennials are an independent generation, they have a great deal of peer-to-peer trust and a mistrust of the establishment. That said, to attempt to generalise them is wrong. Millennials have a spectrum of tastes, views and perspectives and the key for public relations professionals is to understand their audience, empathise with them and consider what mix of the appropriate social media, digital media, print and broadcast is the most effective way to engage.

Some of the Tweets from
#PRMillennials on storify are below: 

Written by Ben Smith+, Founder, PRmoment.com


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