Millennials working in PR today and their Baby Boomer and Generation X counterparts exhibit cultural and ideological differences that could be described as oceans apart, if findings from a new report issued by merger and acquisition consultancy Gould+Partners and Atlanta-based tech PR shop ARPR are any indication.
According to a survey, 42 percent of Millennials said they expect bonuses and commissions on a biannual or quarterly basis. This contrasts wildly with their Gen X or Baby Boomer bosses, 77 percent of whom believe that annual bonuses are sufficient.
More than two-thirds — 68 percent — of Millennial agency staff surveyed cited a competitive salary and strong benefits package as the most important perks in an agency of employment, but when it comes to what qualities they value most in a PR firm environment, 37 percent cited a team agency model and sense of camaraderie among fellow staff, while 25 percent said open communication was their most favored quality and nearly 13 percent cited strong leadership and brand values.
Only 12 percent of Millennials polled said they value stable clients above all.
Less than seven percent of agencies surveyed reported having any formal mentoring program in place, with nearly 94 percent claiming that Millennials and older staff members work side-by-side, on a consistent basis, throughout the firm.
Gould+Partners managing partner Rick Gould told O’Dwyer’s that he found this number “shocking.”
“These programs should be ingrained in the culture of every firm. But it should be ‘co-mentoring’, a 50:50 partnership,” Gould said. “Millennials and Boomers/Gen-Xers must have an open mind and learn from each other about best practices in both client services and entrepreneurship."
When asked to name the hardest part about working for Boomer and Gen X managers, nearly a third of Millennials surveyed — 31 percent — cited bosses they characterized as being behind the curve on social media and digital PR, and 25 percent cited nostalgia for traditional ways of conducting business. The same number reported hearing offhand remarks from their superiors that play into stereotypes regarding Millennials’ lack of attention spans or a perceived sense of entitlement, and more than three-quarters of Millennials surveyed — 77 percent — also said they believe fellow Millennials working at their agency have experienced some form of ageism from clients.
Given all this, 62 percent of Millennial agency employees also reported being given an opportunity to lead or shine in their respective areas of expertise.
On the other hand, more than a third of Gen X and Boomer agency owners polled — 34 percent — said the most difficult prospect in managing Millennials involved their attitude, which included a surplus of self-entitlement and a lack of empathy. 31 percent said they believe Millennials have unrealistic expectations regarding promotions and compensation, and more than 15 percent cited a narrow scope of knowledge regarding history, media and culture.
Nearly half of those polled — 43 percent — said they believe competing agencies run by Millennials are equipped with staff that aren’t experienced or savvy enough. A clear majority —77 percent — said they believe clients value Millennials' team enthusiasm and digital savvy but think their interpersonal skills leave a lot be desired.
Perhaps as a result of this cultural discord, nearly half — 47 percent — of Millennials said they prefer to be managed by their generational peers, while 40 percent said they prefer Gen X management. Only 13 percent of Millennials surveyed said they prefer being managed by Boomers.
Nearly half of those identifying themselves as Millennial agency owners — 46 percent —said they believe that being digitally savvy gives Millennial-run agencies a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The Gould+Partners/ARPR survey was conducted in October and polled more than 60 PR firms, and was based on responses from Millennial PR firm owners (about 18 percent of respondents) or agency employees (24 percent), as well as Boomer or Gen X firm agency owners (nearly 55 percent).