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Three reasons millennials will read your business stories

September 28, 2017

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Business reporters can employ a few easy strategies for attracting millennial readers. (Image by "StockSnap" via Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons)
Business reporters can employ a few easy strategies for attracting millennial readers. (Image by "StockSnap" via Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons)

Businesses attempting to establish a relationship with  the 18-34 demographic often  fail miserably in their execution. Imagine a parent trying to get closer to their kids by using popular slang. It’s superficial, shallow and cringe-worthy.

But if a parent tries to understand what motivates and interests their child, they can foster a deeper connection. The same applies to writers. Connecting with a younger audience is all about knowing what motivates them.

Here are three ways to write local business stories that appeal to a younger audience, without trying to sound cool. First, take a look at this Goldman Sachs infographic that explains, through lots of data, what millennials care about.

Report on people over percentages

According to Business Insider, millennials are killing the beer industry. That might spur a reporter to visit a local microbrewery and ask the owner, “Are millennials destroying your business?” The reporter would leave with some numbers and a nice quote. Headline: “Craft Beer Sales Down 1.2 Percent.”

It’s unlikely that millennials would be eager to read that. They’d see the headline and percentage and skip right over it. According to a study by marketing agency Story Collaborative, that’s because this age group “thrive(s) on stories.” The study explains a prevalent millennial perspective: “I want to be involved with peoplethat are authentic and real to me in the moment.” 

Reporters should try to exploit this tendency. See if you can follow one of the brewers around for the day. Write about the care he or she puts into crafting that brewery’s signature stout. Give the reader a sense of the uniqueness and experience that is beer. Ask the brewer what he or she thinks of declining beer sales among younger drinkers. Tell a story about how the market affects the person.

Elucidate the experience

Eventbrite, a digital event planning platform, sponsored a 2015 study that showed millennials prefer experiences over possessions. They spend their money on concerts, social events, cultural experiences and travel. In fact, the share of consumer spending on these events has increased 70 percent since 1987. 

Many business topics lend themselves to experiential writing, in which a reporter use experience and observation as key tools.

Consider this article on Bloomberg that discussed Apple betting on augmented reality to sell its most expensive iPhone. It’s a great article, but with its concentration of numbers, analyst quotes and hard news, it might not hold a younger reader’s attention. If your goal is drawing in millennials, think about writing about the experience.  The new phone will cost $1,200–how is that going to change the phone-ownership experience? Why does a 25-year-old recent college grad want (or not want) one?

Talk about meaningful change

Remember “Captain Planet”? Millennials grew up with the show’s message that it was “up to you to save the world.” It was a lesson that stuck. This age group has the desire to change the status quo, and the opportunity to do so.

The research supports this. The Story Collaborative study extrapolated this mantra: “I want my life to matter and the ways that I spend my time and money to make a difference.” 

One sure-fire way to attract this audience is to talk about how businesses you cover are making a difference, socially or politically. You don’t have to say if it’s good or bad—just that it’s change. A good example of this is Kelly Erb’s article from Forbes.com, discussing tax reform and how it will change the Middle Class. 

TL;DR (millennial slang for “too long, didn’t read”)

In order to reach the coveted 18-34 “millennial” demographic, it doesn’t make sense to pander to them. Understanding what this age group cares about, and what drives them to consume media, can help any writer produce content that engages a much wider audience.


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