Thursday, 24 August 2017

Generation Z and PR

Guest post from Jack Walton, second year PR student at BCU School of Media

I’m part of generation Z. For those of you who don’t know what this is it’s the term given to those of us who were born from the mid 1990’s to 2000, however even the dates are conflicted depending on who you ask. I was born in 1997 and definitely fit into this bracket. Your probably used to hearing the term Millennials and how they will have more jobs in their lifetime than ever before… amongst other things.

Well, step aside because a new generation now seems to be the talk of the town - hello Generation Z!


Generation Z is the most technological advanced group that there ever was, we grew up with computers, video games and now, social media and smart phones. It means our expectations are set much higher than ever before - and this increasingly puts demands on every company, from clothing retailers to hotels. 

As a generation, we aim to turn our hobbies into actual careers; we won’t settle for second best like generations before us, it’s a huge change for many to accept and automatically affects PR too. Quality over quantity is something that is important to us; clothing brands - and particularly high street ones - have had to step up their game by offering us more “out there” items of clothing which really are head turners. 

With everything, public relations has had to take notice of this. We react differently to advertising; we enjoy hard hitting campaigns which tackle important social issues. We enjoy making a difference and make sure our voices are heard a lot more, through the media and our own channels of engagement.


An example of a recent campaign which does this well would be when Skittles turned its packaging and to white in order to celebrate Gay Pride Month across the world. Generation Z tends to favour campaigns that tackle social / ethical issues and ones that will have some affect in society. 

Clothing brands such as BooHoo and River Island have responded particularly well to our generation's love of influencers. Instagram and Snapchat enable us to follow our favourite celebrities and see what brands they love, what clothes they wear and what issues they support. An example would be BooHoo Man releasing a new line in collaboration with Kem Cetinay; this year’s Love Island winner, alongside Amber Davies. Take my word for it - Generation Z is literally obsessed with reality TV stars, much more so than other celebrities such as actors and singers that have been idolised before. The BooHoo line is just one example of a brand reacting to the change needed to quench the thirst of Generation Z.

Future brands will have a hard job on their hands. We are bombarded with new products and information constantly, and as such we have to pick and choose what we love in an ever-changing world.

In general, my generation have made the job of brands much harder. PR activities for these brands has had to find new ways to connect with us instead of fearing 'the youth' like others have before. I see many brands conducting market research on social media with simple surveys which they know we’ll answer if it’s something were passionate about. That’s another thing I’ve noticed; most of these surveys or research conducted are very simple and very quick. Companies know that many of us have a fairly short attention span when watching a YouTube video or viewing a social media post, and they know they need to cut to the chase before we switch off and click onto the next thing. Multiple sources state that “Generation Z has the shortest attention span of any generation.” - and I'm inclined to agree. 

For me it’s an interesting playing field for PR. My aim is to build a career in public relations once I’ve left university. Because I know what I know about my generation, I feel I will bring some invaluable insights that will help inform campaigns that complement the values of Generation Z, to tailor them to answer what we really want to know. 


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