Gen Z - Changing the Way Companies Communicate
This new generation is prompting companies to communicate differently than they ever have before.
By: Victoria Stewart
As the years go by, the strategies we use to connect to younger audiences change according to the new circumstances surrounding them. The audience that companies are trying to appeal to the most right now is known as Generation Z. Members of Gen Z are those born after 1996, which making up a huge part of the population that grew up along with the digital age. This new way of living has changed the way we connect within our daily lives throughout the past few decades. As the world continues to change, so will our younger generations. The way our generation responded to the COVID-19 pandemic is a reflection of this. There are certain companies that have done a phenomenal job at developing strategies that appeal to the audience of Gen Z. These companies stay ahead of the curve by paying attention to important trends and topics that have been popular, while understanding the principles that Gen Z is guided by.
The changes brought about by the way Gen Z operates have affected communication practices within social media and branding. Social media has created a lot of opportunities for more people to grow their presence online in positive ways, but it also has opened up opportunities for people to spread negative comments. Cancel culture is something that has stayed relevant within social media for a long time now. Even though cancel culture has left a burden on those working in public relations, it also has kept people socially accountable for what they decide to post. According to a May 2021 Pew Research Center study, 49% of respondents shared they believe that cancel culture holds people of high stature accountable. TikTok is a social media app that appeals to a huge part Gen Z for that way people can communicate through it. According to a Hootsuite blog, “TikTok currently sits as the sixth largest social network in the world.” With the app initially releasing in 2016, it has managed to break barriers when it comes to communication and is very popular among members of Gen Z.
Getting to the Point
Changes within the workplace have been seen through an increase in inclusive and respectful in corporate environments. In addition to this, conversations surrounding mental health are also more prevalent thanks to Gen Z. Members of this generation know how important it is to be valued as an individual rather than being seen as just another staff member and are bringing this new perspective into workplace culture. One great example of this is the popular hotel brand, Hilton. The brand was named as one of the world’s best workplaces for the sixth year in a row in 2021., and offers its employee’s major benefits such as care plans and travel discounts. With these benefits and culture, it's easy to see that this company is one that would peak Gen Z’s interest as employees.
Authenticity is Needed
Social events throughout the last few decades have left Gen Z more inclined to speak on methods that should be altered to improve the practice of of public relations. Diane Gayeski, Professor of Strategic Communications at Ithaca College said, “Gen Z’s lives have been dramatically affected by social events, such as COVID-19 and racial injustice protests.” The best kind of companies are the ones that pay attention to this kind of social change and improve their practices to meet the new standard. Microsoft is one company that's made great strides in terms of being socially accountable. They offer a program called "Microsoft DigiGirlz," which was made with the goal of giving young girls an opportunity to learn more about technology through several different workshops. This is only one out of many other initiatives that have been created by Microsoft in order to give back to a wide community of people and create positive changes in the youth of today.
As Gen Z continues to impact our society as a whole, it will be up to major companies to change their communication, inclusivity and workplace practices in productive ways. In order to get the most beneficial relationships out of consumers, public relations employees will also need to stay ahead of what the younger generations are yearning for from companies.
About the Author
Victoria Stewart is a junior at the University of North Texas. Stewart is studying journalism with a concentration in public relations and will be graduating in May of 2023.