The last portion of the Brainsnacks segment on the first day of the INMA World Congress focused on the unicorn of audiences: Millennials.

As MittMedia, Cape Argus, and Jagran Prakashan Ltd. all shared, targeting the youngest demographic of media consumers takes extra care and new approaches.  

AnnaKarin Lith, editor-in-chief of MittMedia, explains the company's Millennial initiative.
AnnaKarin Lith, editor-in-chief of MittMedia, explains the company's Millennial initiative.

AnnaKarin Lith, editor-in-chief of MittMedia in Sweden, addressed the issue of unreachable Millennials: the demographic born in the 1980s, who have little recollection of a world without digital solutions and their cell phones.They spend only one hour each week on traditional news Web sites, causing advertisers to completely give up on reaching them.

Lith didn’t agree with that tactic. She decided that to become relevant with the youngest demographic, MittMedia should surround itself with young people. They employed 16 interns, age 18 to 23, who showed no interest in journalism or media. The MittMedia editorial board stood back and observed.

The interns were tasked with conducting surveys with media students. They did snapshot workshops and innovation labs with the company’s youngest employees.

They found Millennials are exclusively mobile. They see content as either valuable or useless: “They want content we don’t have,” Lith said.

Video is the answer for both content and advertising. The interns showed a preference for native advertising.

“We need to hire young people if we want to be relevant for future customers,” Lith said.

The next step for MittMedia is implement “Millennial 2.0” which focuses on integrating millennial-targeted sales.

Gasant Abarder, editor of Cape Argus, hired Millennials to work a project for the media company.
Gasant Abarder, editor of Cape Argus, hired Millennials to work a project for the media company.

In South Africa, Millennials took to Twitter to challenge newspapers to use student voices and opinions. Gasant Abarder, editor of Cape Argus, accepted that challenge. It took some corralling, but Abarder found six students who agreed to work as editors and designers for the newspaper’s issue to come out the following day.

Abarder assigned his own reporters to the students and allowed them complete control over the stories, photos, design, captions, everything. They worked on deadline and sought advice from editorial board members.

“The staff thought I was crazy,” Abarder said. “I gave them a lot of responsibilities. I could have been fired the next day for it.”

The experiment was a success. The students finished ahead of deadline. The headline was a hashtag and the main photo was shot by a student.

“It changed to first-person narratives,” Abarder said. “We learned newspapers can be edited democratically and having students tell stories changed the narrative.”

The public perception switched from negative to empathetic. From the experiment came a series, “In Your Own Voice,” which enables creativity and atypical news stories: “It changed how we do things. Give the reader a fresh perspective. Re-energise print.”

Alok Sanwal, COO of Jagran Prakashan Ltd., explains a intelligence test the media company used to engage young audiences.
Alok Sanwal, COO of Jagran Prakashan Ltd., explains a intelligence test the media company used to engage young audiences.

Alok Sanwal, chief operating officer of Jagran Prakashan Limited, uses yet another method to involve young audiences. The Indian Intelligence Test is an innovative aptitude test sponsored by Jagran that individual students or classes can sign up for and take each year to check abilities and select best career options.

Globally, it has been observed that there is a growing focus on EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) rather than IQ (Intelligence Quotient). The connection between a media house and a creditable scholastic endeavor creates trust, which Sanwal believes is the biggest key to any brand.

“It contributes to business topline and enhances brand credibility,” he said. “Easy format, revenue generation, and brand building.”