This past week at work, I found myself in attendance at two different networking events with speakers who ultimately spoke on the same topic, but in a unique way. One event was hosted by the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA) and the other by ATHENA WIN, a Lansing based women’s professional group. The speakers presented on how communication is continuing to be an ever-changing field, especially in a world where for the first time in history, we have four generations in the workforce. Throughout the past three weeks of class and these speakers, I’ve realized just how much social media plays a force in the world of communication.
Our jobs as Communication Managers, Community Outreach Coordinators and Social Media Managers is to constantly stay on top of the game if not ahead. How are we supposed to do that when by the time you’re done reading this blog, something else will have changed? One thing I took away from the CMPRSA was this idea of how to communicate between the different generations. Some people in the workforce who have adapted using email (and it can often feel like a letter) now have to find a way to adapt to social media and it’s not going so well. Which makes sense, because they know social media to be yet another distraction that keeps their grandkids from hanging out with them. Yet, there has to be a way to communicate between us all, because millennials are not using email. We tend to text someone what we need, because it’s instant. Texting has become the new phone call. If you don’t text me back, I might think something has happened to you because I know you’re always attached to your phone. The majority of millennials are more likely to obtain knowledge and actually learn something through a video or photos with text rather then a newsletter. Isn’t that crazy?! Even Facebook live is becoming a more relevant tool at conferences because we want to engage our customers and clients to ensure they valued in a way that hasn’t been done before.
At ATHENA, I listened to a woman who is well known at Michigan State University, Dr. Bonnie Knutson. She always starts off lectures in her classes and anywhere she goes with a classic chant, “GO GREEN, GO WHITE!”. I knew right off the bat that this was going to be a great morning. She talked about what each generation looked like in the workforce in regards to loyalty, rewards and tying all of that back to communication. I am technically a millennial, although so much is different between myself and my sister who are just four years apart (let alone those who I am separated by nine years) that I don’t always like to call myself a millennial, but alas here I am. As Dr. Knutson went through each generation on a slide, she asked us a question, “Would you rather be an antelope or a lion”? Most said antelope and few said lion. At the end of it, she said we ultimately have to learn how to be both. You can’t be one or the other in today’s society. She referred back to an ancient African proverb that says each morning the lion wakes up knowing it has to run faster than the slowest antelope in order to eat that day. And each morning, the antelope wakes up knowing it has to run faster than the lion in order to remain alive that day. In today’s world, we have to find a mix of both in order to stay ahead of the game. That probably doesn’t mean never using email because that cuts out part of the workforce who are still enjoying life and love working, but maybe we work on incorporating both in a way that works best for everyone. In just a few short years, we will have five, yes FIVE generations working all together and we have to figure this out sooner rather then later.