At first glance, it might seem that the millennial generation is never unplugged; their ear buds stuck in, cell phone in hand and thumbs typing 80 words a minute. Take a second look, and you will see that some are reading newspapers on the bus ride to school or a magazine on an airplane. It can really be deceiving, that younger generations such as Millennials constantly need to be using digitized media; and, ironically, it is the media that has perceived them this way.

iphone on newspaper

The Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, is those whose birth years range from the year 1980 to about 2000. They are financially literate, entrepreneurially spirited, and of course, tech-savvy. Millennials are the largest generation since Baby Boomers and the first generation where Hispanics will are the largest minority group.

As digital, non-traditional media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and mobile platforms look to be quickly encroaching, it remains unclear to PR professionals if Millennials are still reachable through traditional media including newspapers, radio and television. Surprising to some, a recent Arbitron report actually shows that 93 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listen to traditional AM/FM radio once a week. Radio, a staple of traditional media, has actually seen an increase in listenership in the last few years. A study from The Association of Magazine Media reveals that 93 percent has also read a magazine in the last 60 days. Millennials not only have embraced the variety of media, but professionals can find the traditional media users by looking though demographically targeted from these traditional outlets such as radio and print.

It’s obvious that digital media consumption has skyrocketed; and Inline Media, Inc. shows twenty percent of Millennials spent at least 20 hours a week on the Internet in 2011, more than doubling from ten years ago. Not only has the consistent and rapid growth of digital media opened unlimited new marketing opportunities, but media professionals have also been confronted with industry challenges.

The most identifiable difference between traditional and non-traditional mediums are the communication styles. Traditional media pushes out to consumers one-way.  This communication method is practical, as the message is delivered to the consumer and the information is upfront and readily available. Non-traditional media is based on a different strategy, built upon two-way communication between producer and consumer. While this allows for constant feedback, thus customization, it can be very time consuming.

The spoon-fed information from traditional outlets may appear more convenient in a “grab and go” sort of way and Millennial-friendly, but in reality, Millennials prefer user-generated content. They are interactive, active consumers; they have adapted and embraced user generated content from digital markets such as social media networks because it’s not generic and takes into account their needs and interests. “Reliance and trust in nontraditional sources — meaning everyday people, their friends, their networks, the network they’ve created around them — has a much greater influence on their behaviors than traditional advertising.,” says Jack McKenzie, senior vice president for Frank N. Magid Associates, a market research and consulting firm specializing in the news media and entertainment industries.

From a statistical standpoint, traditional media is still a viable option to reach the Millennial Generation. A study from Experian Marketing shows newspapers are still being read double the amount of tablets being used, and television is almost as frequently used as a mobile phone but delivers an experience yet to be captured on a mobile phone. Although it looks although digital and social media could replace all traditional media, certain functions are still preferred traditionally, rather than non-traditionally because they still fill a need not filled elsewhere.  The key is to listen to those needs, and not only understand which media types can best fill those needs, but how to deliver your message to make sure the audience is engaged. The primary function for social media is social communication, so, just because ads are placed on these sites targeting consumers, doesn’t mean Millennials are going to look at them.

As a PR professional, it’s wise to thoughtfully evaluate your next publicity strategies when considering going completely digital and trying to reach the Millennial Generation. For the next two weeks will be exploring Millennial media outlets and targeting strategies.

This is the first in a five-part series. Here are quick links to the other related posts:

Millennial Media: Traditional vs. Non-Traditional

Ethnic targeting within Millennials

Gender targeting within Millennials

Affluent and less Affluent Milliennials




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