Answering the question, what characterizes Millennials continues to be a challenge.
“The new blog dcist recently summarized that people often label Millennials as, ‘competitive and attention-seeking; liars; confused about politics, finances and culture; risk-averse; absolutely screwed; narcissistic, or possibly the greatest generation; cynical do-gooders; the best workers; and are clueless about the job market.’” – Dionne C. Clemons, Ph.D
In this month’s issue of PRSA’s PR Tactics, Clemons offers her commentary on millennials in the public relations workforce in her column, “Diversity Dimensions”. As the world still questions who millennials are, they should be asking, what can they do? Clemons notes that Millennials make up America’s most ethnically and racially diverse generation ever with 18.5 percent Hispanics, 14.2 percent African American, 4.3 percent Asian, 3.2 percent multiracial and a record low 59.8 percent white. So, what does the growing presence of these diverse digital natives in the workforce mean?
Clemons cites four of public relations’ deeply rooted dilemmas, according to a study from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama:
- Managing the volume and velocity of information
- Understanding the role of social media
- Improving measurement
- Dealing with fast-moving crises
Though the study was completed in 2012, these remain challenges for PR. As the profession changes, tech-savvy Millennials have the ability to transform the practice to become more contemporary through increased social responsibility, transparency and cultural awareness. Millennials’ record-breaking diversity situates them as a “generation to lead an organization’s multicultural communications efforts,” says Clemons. What better way to begin tackling PR’s biggest challenges?
Clemons shares four tips for how to transform Millennial communicators from being “PR technicians” to “strategic communication managers and leaders:”
- Empower them – Stop giving them repetitive tasks and challenge them with big-picture projects that impact the strategic plan.
- Let them choose – Give them ownership by letting them choose what tasks they want to tackle.
- Show them the path – Help Millennials understand the road to leadership so they can plan for their futures.
- Let them lead – Try switching roles with Millennial employees. Allow them to take a front-running role on a project so they’ll get the feel for more responsibility and learn to deal with both positive and negative consequences.
Clemons’ viewpoints encourage companies to use the modern insight that Millennials can provide. Beside the fact that I am a Millennial and will always support articles that endorse our abilities instead of criticize them, Clemons motivates us to think about strategically playing to employees’ strengths, Millennial or not.