Generation PR: The new breed is you

Career advice from former interns and agency executives were shared recently with 160 interns from 22 PR firms. The often digital-focused discussions provide interesting insights for Millennials. . .and those managing them. Melinda Zurich, Member Services Coordinator for the Council of Public Relations Firms, coordinated Internfest and provides us with the following summary. 

   You are referred to as Gen Y-ers, Millennials or digital natives. You are the generation that grew up on the Internet. You have computer and online skills that far exceed any other generation before it. You use online social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, and Twitter everyday to connect with your peer groups, and to chronicle your lives in the world’s biggest fishbowl. You are the ones who say, “What are you doing on Facebook? Aren’t you too old for that?” As my 20-year-old sister told me when she saw my profile.


And as the newest members of the workforce, you have the potential to take the public relations industry to greater heights.



Dave Ambrose, a former Burson-Marsteller intern and now their Global Digital Coordinator, thinks online/digital media should be embedded in the minds of every PR practitioner, “If you think digital and social media is a fad or trend, you are behind the game—actually, you can’t even compete.” Digital natives see online media as a way of life. In other words: no digital, no future.


According to a survey of Internfest attendees, seventy-one percent (71%) think “the use and impact of digital/social media in public relations is going to change the business forever.”

  From the time you were in grade school, the “MySpace / Facebook” generation (as you are also called) has rather effortlessly adapted to the many transformations in the online world—from its speed to the proliferation of online communities. With your innate digital knowledge, you believe you are more in tune with the digital age than most senior-level PR professionals. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the survey respondents (91%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they are “better prepared to work on digital/social media projects for clients than senior PR professionals.” 

Now, what does that tell you?

In with the New…

It certainly indicates that Millennials are confident in their digital abilities. While most of you realize your digital skills may serve as an advantage in future jobs, you also understand traditional media and PR skills are just as relevant. Stephanie Brodski, a summer intern for Weber Shandwick, said, “Of course online/social media is becoming more and more important in the PR industry, but traditional media still plays a huge role, and we have to be mindful of that.”


Most seasoned PR professionals would agree that they can learn from digital natives; but the reverse is also true. “There is no doubt that this younger generation has an advantage as it relates to the use of technology among peers and the ability to adapt,” explains David Binkowski, SVP, Word of Mouth Marketing, Manning Selvage & Lee Digital. “It is not that easy translating those skills and understanding the different factors that are involved in client work. The senior PR practitioner brings the relationship, trust, brand and specific industry knowledge to the table”


Robert Longert, an Account Executive at Peppercom, agrees, “The PR industry may be moving away from traditional media and taking on more digital initiatives, but the younger generation can’t forget the core values that got us here.”


The public relations industry is going through a great evolution due in large part to the transformative digital tools that have taken the business—and the world—by storm. Ultimately, however, the biggest changes will most likely come, not from these tools, but the people using them. And based on my experience at Internfest, I’d say the next generation is ready, willing, and able.   – Melinda Zurich

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