Bank of America recently posted on its Twitter feed a survey on the investing behavior of millennials with assets over $1 million. The survey found millennials to be almost “perfectly at odds with their stereotypical depiction.” What emerged was the picture of a generation that is ambitious, entrepreneurial and wants to work with others who understand their unique needs. They also like to be in control and have a healthy dose of skepticism about our institutions. Of particular interest to us at Hillenby, however, was a chart called “Sources of Information." Wisely, whoever designed the survey for Bank of America wanted to understand what channels of communication millennials prefer. As the author of the report points out: “millennials aren’t beholden to the Internet. Social media and blogs are among their least commonly used sources for financial and investment information.” In fact, television broadcasts, newspapers, magazines and general interest websites reign supreme.
This is another surprising insight, right? Actually, it shouldn’t be. One of the five parts of the Hillenby Influence Model is to understand which communications channels are used most by a given target audience. Because of the nature of our work and clients, and the fact that we like to target our audiences very narrowly in our programs, we often focus our efforts on political and financial elites. In survey after survey, we’ve found exactly what Bank of America found – traditional news sources are still incredibly important to elite audiences.
Here’s the takeaway: Social media of course shouldn’t be neglected. Its adoption and usage is growing every day and at a far faster rate than traditional media. But don’t let the buzz of what’s new, or what you might believe in your gut, distract from using a disciplined approach to uncovering what really works. Effective strategic communications programs, ideally, should be grounded in research. If yours are, and you’re targeting political and financial elites from any generation, then you won’t be surprised by much, including the fact that traditional media is still alive and well.