Greetings from Gen Z! We have been referred to as the digital natives and we truly don’t know a world without internet or social media. We can access everything at the tip of our fingers and, trust me, if our phone ever goes missing or breaks, quite frankly – it’ll be the end of the world.
As kids, my friends and I were using AIM and carefully crafting screennames to be “cool and edgy,” (looking back now, they are a bit mortifying – you’re speaking to the girl formerly known as Bubblgrl1). When fifth grade came around, we shifted from AIM to Facebook – that’s right, I created my Facebook account as a 10-year-old – let that sink in. These days, I’d rather swipe through Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date on literally everything.
My fellow Gen Zers and I have recently entered the workforce – and many of us are landing in careers where our social media skills are crucial. We’re not just comfortable with using social media – we live and breathe it.
I recently approached some of my cross-generational colleagues here at Coyne PR with a few questions about how they see the changing industry landscape, the impact of Gen Z and the use of social media in the PR world.
How do you think your generation has been influenced by social media?
Kevin Lamb – Gen X: My generation is used to new technologies coming to the mainstream marketplace. We were the first generation as kids to have access to home computers in the early 80s. We were in college when we went from using word processors in our dorm rooms to having access to PCs in the campus library and access to this new thing called the World Wide Web.
I think my generation has grown up with the ability to grasp and apply new technologies to our daily lives, so the introduction and use of social media is no different than technologies that have come before it.
Alexa Deo – Gen Z: Social media is all we do! People forget to live their own private lives because everyone is so focused on how others perceive them “on the ‘Gram.”
How do you think your generation’s use of social media differs from other generations?
Stacey Kobeszko – Millennial (also known as Gen Y): I think different generations gravitate toward different social platforms – Gen Z with Snapchat, Millennials and Gen X with Instagram and Boomers on Facebook. I also think because my generation grew up using social media, we tend to use it for news consumption, and we’re savvy enough to know how to decipher what’s fake and what’s real.
I’ve also noticed that some Millennials seem to have the “over it” mentality when it comes to social media and we’re trying to distance ourselves from it to live more in the moment and be less digitally-obsessed.
How have you seen a change in PR with the progression of social media?
Lisa Wolleon – Gen X: When I first started in PR, the notion of tweeting at a reporter with a pitch would have blown my mind. This is also coming from the girl who stood at a fax machine for six hours the day before an event, faxing media alerts to every news station in the country to pick up b-roll that required a satellite window of time.
On the flip side, social media oftentimes carries just as much weight as big traditional media outlets and gives us more opportunities to be able to tell a brand’s story in different ways or to come up with creative ideas based on what we’re seeing on social. It’s become a primary source for news and what we once considered a 24-hour news cycle has now become news every 24 seconds.
Do you see a difference in how Gen Z works based on how they’ve grown up with social media?
Rena Odette – Millennial: Attention spans of Gen Zers are often shorter since they have more of a “scroll mentality,” but, I think from a PR perspective, they are much more ingrained in this social culture and tailor work and content for the social style and mentality. Gen Zers are more inclined to digital communication and are likely to pitch and conduct outreach via email or social media, as opposed to older generations who are much more inclined to phone pitching or in person contact with the media. I also think the social media habits of Gen Z have enabled them to multitask and divide their attentions among many tasks simultaneously.
Social media has the power to bring people together. While Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z have all adapted to the many different platforms from various starting points, we all speak the same basic language. #TTFN … I have to get back to my daily news scanning on Twitter and Instagram. This is Bubblgrl1 signing off!