Reaching Millennials

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A new policy

While some of the advice I've offered may seem like common sense to some, these aren't widely enacted policies. The key here is that a lot of these three organizations' policies seem like common sense to a Millennial audience. If you want your content to appeal to the younger generation, you need to do the things that seem commonplace to them.

If you are not online already, get online as soon as possible. Millennials are the most connected generation ever. They eat, sleep and breathe technology. Computers, Ipods and cell phones are intrinsic parts of the daily lives of the younger generation. A presence available in these devices is key to reaching this audience.

There are certain websites and software programs you absolutely most know and use:

Facebook: This is the social networking site geared toward upwardly mobile, educated Millennials. This is where you will find a lot of students who may one day become part of your organization.

Myspace: This is one of most visited websites in the world (clocking in regularly in the top five in amount of hits). While this may not necessarily get young people who will produce radio, this is a great site to increase presence and find new listeners.

The Public Radio Exchange: This is the most important site to learn for distributing content. Not only will you be able to sell your content to member stations (a great way to license work produced by younger reporters), but this is a great place to find and recruit new talent. Member stations can cut down costs of production for local producers, and they get to feature more voices on the airwaves. While this may not be good news for the local, full-time producer, it is great news for young reporters all over the country.

Itunes: This software available free from Apple is the most prolific publishing source for music, news and podcasts. While there is a lot of content to compete with through Itunes, this is an important tool because so many internet users get their music from Itunes. This is the best and easiest way to get your content downloaded onto Ipods and heard across the country.

Use these tools like Millennials use them: It's not enough to you know how to surf Myspace and have a Facebook profile. You cannot have a boring, professional profile on Facebook and expect to attract a younger audience. Millennials respect these new tools, and they are investing their time and energy in using them with the belief that it will pay off with a deeper, more nuanced social network. If you want to use new media tools and social networks, you have to respect them as the tools for social change and interaction like their Millennial creators view them. It's a very common theme in new media research that users (especially Millennials) can sense a fakeness and distrust people who don't use these tools in the right ways. The right way involves using the tools primarily for social uses rather than professional, and keeping a personal tone to created profiles and sites.

Go niche. Satellite radio, podcasting and new media technology have allowed us to systematically categorize and sort through the information we find appealing. Have a niche understanding of what you do. (Are you youth-produced radio from Vermont? Are you African American news by high school students?). People want the potential to hear new things, and it is easier to find it when the niche is defined. The markets currently losing listeners (especially the younger ones) are the stations that think everyone wants to hear the same thing. When Millennials discover the power of niche media, it will be hard to return to corporate controlled media.

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