In our new, disintermediated, 24X7 all information, entertainment and news world, it’s critical to reach target audiences in the mediums they, not we, choose.
Yet, stubborn traditionalists in advertising, direct mail, medical supplies and, yes, public relations, continue to cling to such ineffective and costly tactics as mass mailings, 30-second TV spots and billboards on bridges. But, the times they are a changing…
Yesterday, we played host to 20 University of Richmond students. The Spiders (school nickname) came to us to learn PR’s specific role within the marketing mix and overall function within a business in general. But, this wasn’t just about us talking "at" them. Rather, we saw it as an opportunity to learn how "Generation Next" likes to receive its news and information, make purchasing decisions and communicate with one another.
While there were no "ah ha’s" or surprises in the findings, the Spiders’ feedback helped substantiate a few premises:
1.) 100 percent obtain news from the Internet, not newspapers or other traditional media. Most visit NYTimes.com.
2.) They use Facebook as opposed to MySpace, because of perceived confidentiality issues with the latter. Additionally, one of the advisors who accompanied the group said he uses Facebook as a key communications tool since it’s the best and fastest way to reach the students.
3.) They turn to Google, CNet, and Edmunds for product information/reviews before making a purchasing decision. Corporate Web sites and brochures have little credibility in their eyes. They want to hear from consumers who tell it like it is. And, yes, Internet research is a fundamental part of their overall purchase decision process.
4.) I.M. is their preferred way to reach out to one another, followed by text and email.
Like all consumers in the Web 2.0 world, Generation Next students decide how they’ll receive information. The sooner we marketers figure out it’s not about us, our company or our product but, instead, the wants and needs of the end user, the better we’ll connect. So drop the hyperbole, the superlatives and the inward-looking corporate speak. If we want to spin a yarn that will connect with Richmond Spiders, we better first understand how their information-gathering "webs" work.