Stacy Merrick|Jul 21, 2015

Everyone’s talking about millennials – from what they buy, to where they choose to live and how they read their news. With the 2016 election season ramping up, you can expect millennials to stay in the headlines as candidates work to activate this huge voting block with a notoriously low turnout.

However, while this generation may have captured the attention of marketers, political strategists and media outlets, they still only make up 30 percent of the adult population and represent less than one fourth of discretionary spending.

In short, don’t forget about the “70 percent” – Generation X, baby boomers and the Silent Generation.

According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of millennials report getting political news on Facebook compared to 37 percent from local TV. While these numbers are interesting in their own right and underscore the pervasiveness of social media, what’s even more startling is the contrast between millennial media consumption habits and those of older generations. Among baby boomers, the Pew study found 60 percent get political news from local TV and 39 percent from Facebook – a complete reversal of the millennial data.

Political candidates, much like today’s brands and companies, need public relations and communications strategies that reach across multiple generations, who consume news in radically different ways. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all campaigns. Today, candidates and companies need dynamic, multi-platform campaigns with customized messaging to reach target audiences spanning multiple generations.

Here are two important things to consider when trying to reach and create campaigns that resonate with a broad, multi-generational audience.

Ask: What makes my target audience tick?

CEB Research found stark differences between what millennials and boomers value. Millennials rank inward-focused values, like happiness, discovery and passion, higher than collective-focused values, like family, duty and practicality, which are of great importance to boomers. Conducting research upfront to learn what makes your target audiences tick is crucial – what works for a recent college grad is likely irrelevant to a 40-year-old mother of three or a retiree. Creating messages and campaigns that are relevant to audiences with such diverse priorities can be challenging, but necessary for success.

Choose your channel wisely

With so many options for distributing your message – print media, blogs, social media, TV and radio – consider what media channels your target audiences use most frequently to consume their news.

It’s no surprise that millennials rely heavily on social media for keeping up with current events and news – in fact 60 percent of the digital generation does. They also regularly visit digital-native news websites like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. Baby boomers on the other hand, rely primarily on traditional sources for news like TV, radio and print publications, but 66 percent also report reading their news online. And Generation Xers are a blend of millennials and boomers. While they are avid consumers of online news, they also consume news from TV and print sources more than their millennial counterparts.

Utilizing multiple platforms both on and offline is the only way to reach a target audience that spans multiple generations.

What communications tactics have you found to be effective for a multi-generational audience? Let us know in the comments below!


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