Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boomers’

The Marketing Words That Work With Each Generation

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Words That Work For Each Generation BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR Software Marketing Millennials Generation X Demographics can be a slippery slope – combining 15 to 20 years’ worth of people into one neat category? Not so accurate. As a result marketers and public relations pros alike would be remiss to think that one style of language will resonate across the generations.

There’s a lot more that goes into messaging – like targeting and segmentation – but putting that aside for this post, let’s take a look at words and language styles that generally speak to each generation.

Generation Z

Born between 1995 and 2010, the earliest part of Gen Z is coming into its own purchasing power. These tech savvy multitaskers also respond to discussion about sustainability and green products. They’re also constantly adopting the latest technology and want to know what’s next. Gen Z also cares about privacy (hence their tendency toward ephemeral social media like SnapChat), having control over their own preference and security settings, and tend to prefer visuals over text and short, bite-sized content.

Generation Y/ Millennials

Ah, the elusive target market unicorn. It seems everyone wants to market to Millennials but no one can agree on how. Well, that might be because marketers tend to lean too heavily on stereotypes instead of reality. Some Millennials are go-getters with steady jobs who carefully cultivate their own brand, while others are trapped by economic circumstance: overeducated, underemployed, and not as financially independent as they’d like to be.

A lot of millennials respond to off-beat, sarcastic humor, social awareness, and freedom. Being aware of so many social and civil rights issues, using inclusive language and imagery is especially important for resonance, and Millennials like to hear words like “global citizen,” “diversity,” and “community.”

Generation X

GenXers tend to be skeptical, especially of the government (which is what growing up during Watergate and the Vietnam War will do to you), so they’re not into hype. They’re also protective of their personal time, so Anne Loehr recommends using phrases like “It’s your time … “, and “You will benefit by …”   Be real, refrain from being overly optimistic, and since Gen X likes data, emphasize results.


Since Baby Boomers control 70 percent of disposable income in the U.S., it’s pretty important to get your messaging right. Like all generations, they like humor, but prefer it to be clever and not mean-spirited.

Boomers like positivity and are enjoying their economic freedom, so provide options and create positive messaging instead of using the word “don’t.” Try to include messages that explain why you understand Boomers, how you make their life easier, or how you make their life better. Boomers tend to be idealistic and ambitious, so using legacy-oriented language, a bit of sentimentality, and lots of information will most help your message resonate.


Traditionalists, born 1925ish to 1945, grew up in the Great Depression and WWII, so they’re frugal, traditional, and loyal – once you’ve earned that loyalty. Emphasizing a company’s legacy, stability, reputation, and trustworthiness are all important.

Words like “earned,” “honor,” “respect,” “reliable,” “value,” and “responsibility” all resonate with Traditionalists.

So when you’re writing your blogs, releases, or messages, be sure to keep in mind who your audience is and what language they respond to. And also remember that demographics are very general, so further targeting and segmenting will help you hone your message further and more carefully curate your words.


Christmas Tunes, an intentional time warp or just merry messages from yesterday’s Golden age of Radio and TV?

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

I can’t remember where I heard this season’s “first” Christmas pop song. But like hearing the first birds of spring, suddenly there it was blaring from some outdoor mall or airport …and before the World Series was even over! So why is it that songs about a reindeer’s red nose, silver bells, or a dream of a white Christmas fill our ears year after year (whether we like it or not)? I love these songs and I have fond memories of these songs as a kid. I’d just prefer to remember them from a time where I was butchering them in a school play or caroling door to door, rather than hearing them in these public places.

Christmas classics like Drummer BoyRudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Silver Bells, and Blue Christmas have been playing in retail stores, gas stations, hotel lobbies and over the radio waves for more than 60 years. Recently, these songs and many other holiday pop classics were highlighted in a popular web comic strip XKCD. The illustration points out that many of these songs, as well as other Christmas blue chip classics, were published and recorded around the 1940s and 1950s. Hint, it’s the baby boomers that we have to thank for keeping these songs in the mainstream for so many years.

Eric Harvey, a PhD candidate in Indiana University’s Department of Communication and Culture claims during a very specific time in American history (1940s and 1950s), culture and technology played a big role in the release of many of these holiday classics. During that time millions of young baby boomers were enjoying holiday films like Bob Hope’s the Lemon Drop Kid which gave us Silver Bells, and Bing Crosby’s Holiday Inn where he famously croons as a WWII soldier returning home with “I’ll be home for Christmas.” In the late 40s radio began to converge with TV and it was commonplace for families to be huddled around their living rooms enjoying holiday musicals, the songs forever etching memories of Christmas past in their minds.

With over 76 million babies born between 1945 and 1964 (who today make up more than half of all consumer spending in the US), it’s no surprise these songs are being used intentionally by retailers to recreate Christmas past and market to today’s multigenerational audiences – hopefully stimulating spending around the holiday season.

Harvey also points out, however, that “While it’s true that the majority of Christmas pop music played on mainstream radio stations was originally published and recorded in the 1940s and 50s, and naturally the culture of that time will permeate these songs, that does not directly equate to a modern nostalgia for that era.” In other words, what if you’re not a baby boomer? What if you didn’t see the movies, the TV show or are just too young to identify with these songs?

With the sheer repetition of these songs being played during today’s stressful holiday seasons, will these songs eventually condition us to equate them with long lines, holiday traffic or the dreaded visit from you’re annoying brother-in law? Very doubtful. After all, every generation has their favorite Christmas songs, and with today’s limitless choices and devices to hear them, it’s sure to be a Rockin’ Holiday Season for all generations! My personal favorites are Father Christmas by The Kinks, Greg Lake’s Do You Believe in Father Christmas? and Joan Jett’s Little Drummer Boy. What are yours?

Happy Holidays from all of us here at BurrellesLuce!!

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Ken Jacobs, Jacobs Communications, Interviewed By Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m at the PRSA Counselors Academy with Ken.

Ken, will you please introduce yourself?

KEN JACOBS: Sure. I’m Ken Jacobs of Jacobs Communications Consulting, and I help public relations agencies in three ways: number one, to grow and manage their business; number two, improve client relationships and client service; and number three, to enhance staff performance and motivation, primarily through training.

BURKE: Great. Ken, you’re doing a session on working with millennials. Can you please share with the people that aren’t able to make it on some of the tips about effectively working with millennials in the workplace?

JACOBS: Sure. Well, the number one tip is to stop complaining about them, particularly if you’re a baby boomer like myself or if you’re in Gen X, but to appreciate the fact they are the largest and fastest growing part of our work force. They’re 37 percent of them today; by the year 2014 they’ll be 47 percent. SO we have no choice but to learn how to manage and motivate them. And I think the most important thing is to understand the different cultural issues that have affected this generation. Understand their values, understand what makes them tick, understand how they’re different from both the baby boomers and the gen Xers and learn to appreciate them. And once you gain some insight into how they think and how they work, they can be very, very productive and really contribute to your team.

BURKE: I think those are great points and reminders for all of us that work with them, to really find a way to bring out the value that they bring to the organization. Tell me again how people can find you on the web and in social media.

JACOBS: Sure. They can find me at, that’s J-A-C-O-B-S-C-O-double M-dot-com. They can also find me on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter.

BURKE: Ken, thank you so much.

JACOBS: Thank you. 

Millennial Communications Debate—Voice vs. Text

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Flickr Image: papalars

Flickr Image: papalars

We all know there is a generational gap. It’s not a new concept. Change is constant, as is the way we use the various means of communication available to us.

For example, twenty years ago, an executive may have asked a twenty-something to type (possibly with a typewriter not a computer) a memo regarding a recent client interaction on real paper for him (not likely a her) to read. (This really did happen!) Today, an executive (most likely a Baby Boomer and quite possibly female) might want to give some quick instructions regarding an account to a Millennial (or Gen-Yer) via voicemail. But, the Millennial may not like voicemail, and avoids listening to messages, and may even ask that the message be sent to him/her as an e-mail or text. The Baby Boomer is put off by this attitude. In both examples, we need to try to understand to who we are communicating.

The December BurrellesLuce newsletter reviewing 2010 Media Relations predictions includes re-evaluating our approach to multi-generational communications. The newsletter sites Mike Carlton’s white paper, The Challenge of the Millennials.  There are many advantages to hiring Millennials, but the Baby Boomers (and quite possibly Gen-Xers) need to take the time to mentor and understand them.

For the purpose of this post, let’s concentrate on voicemail vs. text. A Baby Boomer friend of mine recently posted to his Facebook page how put-off he was by a message on a voicemail not to leave a voicemail message, which sparked quite a bit of debate. My friend’s point was sometimes a voicemail is the best way to convey a message. Additionally, he feels we shouldn’t rely on caller ID for calling people back. What if we don’t reach them? Sometimes you can call someone, but then you realize you can get the information another way, so you don’t leave a message. In this case, it would waste time for the person to call you back, when there is nothing to discuss. Many Millennials forget Boomers don’t always have or know how to text. On the flip side, texts and e-mails can be incredibly efficient.

I personally deal with this voicemail miscommunication every day. My husband (a Gen-Yer in a Gen-Xer body), does not listen to my messages. Many times, if he had listened to the message, he would have all the information he needs and would not need to call me back. Since I understand my husband doesn’t listen to his voicemail, I will often e-mail or text him when I have something quick to tell him.

If you do a web search, you will find several services to convert your voicemail to text. This might be a partial solution for Millennials looking to avoid listening to their voicemails with bosses and clients who insist on leaving them.

At the PR News “How-To” conference earlier this month, Donna Fenn, author of Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success, discussed this same trend. Her advise, remember who you are communicating with and work to communicate in their preferred method. You will find you have more to gain, than to loose.

What are your predictions for communication changes in 2010? What will you do to better understand your boss or intern at your firm or organization?

Is Real-time Right for You and Yours?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Today I’ll be moderating a round table on “Real-time communications, real measures: Influencing audiences and assessing impacts” at the Business Development Institute Real-Time Communications Conference and Roundtables. I hope to both lead and learn from the discussion(s) at this conference and then reveal the results, especially with those who shared their thoughts with me in preparation of this event.

Real-time communications are not a reality for all constituents. While the concept is tempting, I encourage a thorough evaluation before implementing this type of program so you can create a dedicated fan base rather than forcing individuals on board. In order to be effective, real-time communication can only occur when participants are at their computers and “always” available. Be considerate of time zones and normal business hours when engaging real-time programs to ensure enthusiasm.

Some industries (such as factories and other sectors where everyone doesn’t have computer access) aside, how will your workers from different generations embrace the prospect of real-time communications? Millennials who generally view email as an antiquated form of communication and too slow will likely be the first to embrace real-time communications. Gen Xers will also likely adapt quickly, but keep in mind “real-time” means ready access to online communication and this generation has worked hard for flexibility, which doesn’t always mean being connected. Baby Boomers will also come around to the effort, but a generation who has worked for work-life balance wants a schedule and an efficient execution. Traditionalists will dutifully participate but you’ll need to do your due diligence and provide technology training and ongoing support.

Real-time communications include:

  • Telephone (land line, mobile and VOIP)
  • IM (instant messaging includes chat and video chat)
  • Teleconference
  • Video Conference

Real-time communications best practices:

  • Provide ongoing training so all members of the group effectively participate.
  • When gathering a group, create and distribute an agenda 24-hours prior to engagement so any questions can be addressed and the forum can focus on the task(s).
  • Designate an Administrator to facilitate technical issues/challenges as well as archive conversations.
  • Facilitate group discussions in order to stay on task; these discussions can be incredibly effective, but can also spiral out of control quickly.

While this blog is not real-time communication, I encourage you to post your real-time communication best practices and challenges to leverage and learn from our community.