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As millennials begin to hit one, two and three year anniversaries at work, their feet begin to itch. It’s time to uproot their lives and try out a new location! Who doesn’t love the idea of conquering a new city, trying out new bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and most importantly escaping the bitter cold, dreary rain or sweltering heat (depending on your current city that is). According to a recent Business Insider article, Americans are least likely to consider international relocation for a job. However, the one demographic of Americans who are far more likely to seek out career moves abroad are millennials. Fifty-nine percent of millennial professionals say that they would be open to moving to a foreign country for a job opportunity. We thought it necessary to catch up with some of our own W2O Group millennials who are traveling far and wide, home and abroad and near and far to see how and why they decided to make their own moves.Moving Boxes

Holly Batchelder: New York, NY — Boston, MA

My background is rooted in science, and I spent many years – during and after college – working at various research institutions and hospitals in the Boston area. After a couple of years, I realized my true passion was translating science into easy-to-understand health information for patients in need, so I went to graduate school to pursue a career in health communications. When I finally completed my program, I took a leap of faith and accepted a job in NYC at Twist.

I loved living in NYC. I reconnected with friends from my past, met fun new co-workers and indulged in a convenient little delivery service you may have heard of, called Seamless. However, there was still a lot I missed about Boston, including the nearby beaches, the health-conscious culture, and – of course – the lobster rolls!

In the end, I am so happy that I moved back. The Boston office is small (12 people), but we are thriving! We have an unbeatable office culture, and when we’re not at work, you can find us boxing at The Club by George Foreman III, or drinking Paloma’s at 75 Liberty Wharf in the Seaport.

moving dogsErin Scialabba: New York, NY — Austin, TX

Ultimately, I moved to move—to meet new people, to try new things, and to gain a fresh perspective on life and the work that we do.

At 25, I realized that I had a lot of growing to do; I’d lived in the New York area for my entire life, spending season after season doing the same activities with the same people. I loved my home, my family, my friends, and my coworkers, but I was itching for a plot twist.

So I set myself up to make the change. Months before I wanted to leave, I spoke with managers about my interest in living and working in Austin. I met with leadership in New York and Texas about logistics. I connected with other transfers around the company and asked them about their experiences. Not only was I taking responsibility and ensuring that I didn’t leave anyone high and dry, I was also creating external momentum to help me take a leap of faith.

So I jumped—and by jumped, I mean I slept for 20 hours while my incredible parents drove me halfway across the country, where I would later live with a roommate I found on Craigslist.

But since the initial jitters, I haven’t looked back. Not only have I had a great time exploring one of the coolest cities in the country, I’ve also made significant strides in my career. By switching offices, I was able to “start a new job,” but draw on a year’s worth of experience I had already gained in New York. Moving to a new office almost doubled my professional network and my confidence at work.

Brianna Kuhl: New York, NY — London, UK

I spent a good amount of time abroad in college, first in Austria and then in France, and ever since I’ve wanted to find my way back out ASAP. I joined W2O over 2 years ago knowing about our many amazing office locations. The London office has a lot of heavy digital growth goals and, after a quick visit last month, seems to be everything I’m looking for. So here I go, off to a new country in a new place where I need to learn how EVERYTHING works. I can’t really explain how excited/nervous/happy I am. It’s a decent amount of paperwork to get a visa for another country (and securing travel for your pet is EVEN harder, more intense than getting myself over there for sure!) but in less than 10 days I’ll be in a new place with a bunch of AMAZING folks out in the UK office. Definitely a learning experience going through the process but overall there is so much support at W2O it’s been much smoother than you would think. I am excited to start a new chapter with a supportive company.

 

 

In Texas, we would say “Nancy Zwiers?  Yeah, she’s done a few things in her life”.  Typical Texas understatement, of course.  Nancy has held multiple executive positions for Mattel, the #1 toy company in the world; she led worldwide marketing for Mattel’s $2 billion Barbie doll brand; she re-launched Polly Pocket and grew the #1 Cabbage Patch brand.  And she has advised clients ranging from Disney to Hasbro to Spin Master about the area of kids and play.  Yeah, Nancy knows a few things.

So we thought this Millennials Unplugged should be an interview with Nancy to learn more about youth marketing and what it all means.  Here’s excerpts from our talk.

Q: You were selling over 100 million Barbie’s a year, inventing new Barbie’s and learned a lot about what matters.  What did you learn about how we think as kids? 

A: I like to say that we had big data before there was big data—with so many transactions, we were able to see patterns that others missed that helped us develop our understanding of “Core play patterns.” These play patterns are amazingly consistent across time, geography, and culture.  We have concluded that play comes from the inside out.  It is a biological drive.  If you tap into these core play patterns, you are more likely to be successful in engaging kids.

 Q: That’s fascinating.  We always think we are so unique.  Why are we actually so similar?

A: Play is nature’s way to ensure we learn what we need to learn to survive.

For example, the original play pattern is “exploration & discovery,” which starts at birth—or maybe even before.  It’s innate in us and it drives us to explore our environment.  As we grow up, that same play pattern is fueled by curiosity and the little thrill that goes with each new discovery. 

Q: Very cool.  What are some examples we can relate to?

A: Reading flows from this play pattern.  Our desire to travel is a form of exploration & discovery.  Scientists feel like they are playing as they are driven to explore their scientific fields.  We want to learn in order to survive and we play to discover and learn.  The second play pattern we all share is “challenge & mastery,” which is at the heart of sports and most game play.  It drives us outside of our comfort zone to help us grow.

Q: How is entertainment viewed compared to play?

A: Entertainment flows the opposite direction of play.  It comes from the outside in.  That said, the new “discoverability” of entertainment content is a manifestation of exploration & discovery.  Further, the more entertainment is interactive, the more the lines are blurred between entertainment and play. 

Q: We realize it’s hard to ask you what your favorite toy has been…..but we will……

A: My favorite toy of all time is Barbie.  And the most innovative Barbie dolls are the ones that I like the most.  We created the first radio-controlled Barbie (Dance n Twirl Barbie), Becky the first “differently abled” friend for Barbie, the first mass customized doll (University Barbie) and even Barbie’s baby sister, Kelly, so we could facilitate the nurturing core play pattern.

Q: What’s the importance of nurturing as it relates to toys? 

A: Girls, especially, are irresistibly drawn to nurturing play—whether a baby doll or a pet.  Girls are also drawn to toys that let them explore what beauty means to them—think fashion dolls and arts & crafts. Frozen’s famous star Elsa personifies girls’ beauty fantasies.

Q:  What happens when we grow up? 

A: Our behaviors change but the drive behind them stays the same, so instead of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, now we play with X Box or Minecraft.  You know, boomers didn’t have as many opportunities to play with a wide range of toys.  We only had a few TV channels*, but we were ok with that.  Now, kids and millennials have a wide range of toys and they see play as digital or physical.  Plus, they have an expectation that we can personalize our play experiences.  Customization and interactivity are the big things.

Q: When we think of the movies, what is happening when we love a character?

A: We find that you need an aspirational lead character that is also relatable.  Aspirational means “I want to be like her/him.” and relatable is “He/she is like me.”  These are the characters we most want to play out fantasies with. The real life Princess Diana illustrates this.  She was actually a princess, she was beautiful AND she had flaws.  Having a weakness makes us love characters more.  Think of Superman and kryptonite.   One quick note:  In the key imaginative play years of children from 3-6 years old, they will often fantasize with a toy/character that often reflects gender stereotypes.  Many adults think this should change but it is part of an overall process of developing one’s identity. 

Q: What is the future of the toy industry?

A: 3D printing will have a big impact on the toy industry…..digital (and physical arts) and crafts will grow…..kids are getting more focused on wanting to express themselves more……the need to differentiate from our peers is growing….customization and personalizing experience is important.  The Internet of Things will have powers we never realized.  Imagine a new 3D view master with augmented reality or having Siri-like interaction with dolls?  Or learning how a child is using a toy and then suggesting what else they may like based on sensors in the toy itself, sending back data to headquarters that is meaningful. 

Q: Nancy, what was your favorite toy growing up?

A: It was my microscope.  I loved it.  I still remember what my hair looked like under the microscope.

Thank you Nancy, this was fantastic.  Very insightful!

Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)

*Bob’s favorite Saturday shows were Speed Racer and Jonny Quest. 

As a marketing analyst, my day is governed by digital media. My nights are equally dictated, as I am guilty of sleeping next to my phone, just like 83% of other Millennials. Tech-dependant as we are, I’d expect this “generation of digital natives” to be very fond of online experiences. In fact, according to statista, 85% of UK 16 to 34-year-olds used Facebook in 2014. Can we infer from these numbers alone that digital experiences are always the preferred choice by us Millennials? As you might have guessed, I intend to make it a tad more difficult by contrasting some digital vs. offline experiences:

Education: While traditional education has undeniable benefits such as direct peer and teacher interaction, over 6.7 million students were taking a minimum of one online course in 2011 – an increase of more than half a million year-on-year. Online education will enable people from poorer families or rural areas receive valuable skills. Interestingly, print reading is highest among 18 to 29 year old US students, according to a Pew study, as the text book layout benefits comprehension and distractions and skimming are less likely.

Work: Similar to traditional education, being physically present at work has huge benefits, such as your boss knowing what you are up to. However, home offices will be an important factor in juggling work and family, as a survey in the Microsoft whitepaper points out. Further benefits of home office are a less stressful environment, a quieter atmosphere, commute elimination and increased environmental sustainability.

Dating & Friendships: Dating apps allow us to roam potential partners whenever and wherever we want. Some portals such as EHarmony and OkCupid ask personal questions that supposedly match you to people with similar opinions and interests. Therefore, online dating is a form of offline speed dating, as you don’t have to waste precious minutes getting to know someone to figure out later that their love for cats doesn’t match your allergies. Digital, in this case, gives you a wider range of opportunities, while you will most likely want to meet your online encounter in real life before getting married. Regarding friendship building, technology also works as a facilitator. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 57% of US teens have met a new friend online, with 30% having made more than five. Due to their love for video games, boys are more likely than girls to make online friends.

Family: Most of us can speak from experience that being around your family in person is superior to a Skype call, where the video quality is sub-par. Nonetheless, apps and platforms allow us to reach out more often and share little, yet important moments as well.

The endless list of things we do online includes mobile banking (enabling female farmers in Africa build their own businesses) or sharing hobbies, such as cooking, sports, art and photography. Due to Instagram filters, everyone can now be a “photographer” and we can share our successful or not-so-successful cooking experiences with the entire world. We can also share calories burnt after our first mile or half-marathon and make our Facebook friends envious. Most of all, we can find people who share rare hobbies such as a fondness for pigeons. It’s much easier to find like-minded people online or strangers to talk to confidentially. Privacy goes both ways online: you can be anonymous and share fears and thoughts, but at the same time, you can gossip and insult others without being identified. Negative factors seem to increase online where it is also much easier to voice your opinion to a greater audience. The latest incidence being the refugee crisis in Europe, where a lot of celebrities voice themselves supportively online, but allow fans with negative sentiments to comment and reach this wide audience as well.

As it turns out, the digital landscape is widely complex. Deciding on what experiences are more enjoyable online is further hindered by factors such as your audience’s background, preferences and motivations. As the recent Economist article “Myths about Millennials” points out, “individual differences are always bigger than generational differences.” One should not make assumptions about a group of people just because they were born in the same time period.

Generally speaking, however, digital is always better. Not because we replace real experiences with digital ones, but because digital adds options to our means of communication. Every communication tool in history has had its pros and cons, but the tools have been improving over time. Improvement meaning enhancing communication, bringing us closer together. We started with smoke clouds and can now communicate with people on several continents at once and in colour. We want to share information and experiences – sad moments, achievements and joy. Yes, there are still many improvements to be made, technically and personally (be it privacy issues or us constantly looking down on our phones while walking in the streets). Ultimately, communication is what we’re all about and digital communication is a further added benefit along the way – and not just for Millennials.

After this peek into the facets of digital, I want to invite you to join W2O Group’s PreCommerce Summit that is part of London’s Social Media Week, to further expand your knowledge. Hear industry experts talk about marketing’s future and share your opinion on whether digital is always better. You can RSVP here: http://w2oevents.com/

In the past six years, I can count on one hand — one finger, actually — the number of times I’ve attended a conference and not been an active participant in the Twitter conversation onsite. It was 2009, my laptop was at the office, and I did not yet have a smartphone. You can bet that was the last time I traveled without multiple devices, a smartphone being one of them.

As a millennial — yes, one of those — I began my career at a time when Twitter was only for the tech elite, Facebook was still “The Facebook,” and LinkedIn was a glorified resume. Now, similar to how no one can remember a time when anything got done without email, I can no longer fathom — nor want to — a world where social media wasn’t a driving force behind how business gets done, and done well.

In my past life as a healthcare conference producer, social media wasn’t yet the widely adopted medium for communication and collaboration that it is today. Speaking faculties and conference agendas were created from research and whatever publications and articles were available online, and events were publicized via mass email campaigns and cold calling. Just a few years later, the landscape had already changed drastically.

In my next role as an editorial content producer at a technology publisher, hashtags were the new sources for news stories, LinkedIn was the first point of contact, and QR codes were all the rage. To stay timely, topical and relevant was to keep up with the rate of change in social media adoption and use. Today, that thinking still holds true. Only now, the cost of not participating is something that individuals and brands alike can no longer afford.

We’ve all heard that “content is king,” and from a content generation perspective, Twitter is one of the most valuable — and all too often, underrated — sources. If someone had told me back when I was putting together conference agendas that there would soon be a channel that would provide, in real-time, insights on the topics and trends that your target audience cares most about, I might have traded an arm or leg for access. Now, that information is just a screen tap away.

But the wealth of benefits that Twitter provides goes well beyond social intelligence — topic and audience targeting, influencer analysis, idea generation and the like. While it’s true that the incredibly rich data that Twitter provides — when paired with the right analytics, active listening tools and analysis in place — creates an unmatched opportunity for social optimization and ROI-inducing initiatives, to me, the most valuable aspect of the channel has been the relationships that is has allowed me to cultivate. And for that, I could not be more appreciative.

While conferences and networking events might have previously been where industry colleagues would be introduced to one another for the first time, now, these onsite interactions are simply an extension of the relationships that began through a series of 140 character posts. The number of times I’ve approached — okay, ran toward — industry colleagues with whom I’ve connected on Twitter first, and recognized solely from their profile picture, is a bit embarrassing. But the amazing opportunities, incredible learning experiences, professional connections, and friends, that I have made, simply because we were engaged via the social medium first, makes it all worthwhile.

Case in point being earlier this year, at W2O’s #HITsmCIO event at HIMSS’15 in Chicago, where provider innovation, information and technology chiefs gathered together to discuss the proliferation of social media in healthcare. UPMC’s chief innovation officer, Rasu Shrestha, M.D., one of the Twittersphere’s most active — an quite frankly, awesome — digital health leaders, shared that when it comes to hospital and health system use of social media, “it’s less of a question about whether you should do it; it’s can you afford not to.” I would have never gotten the opportunity to meet, know, and most importantly, learn from, Dr. Shrestha in the same capacity if not for Twitter, where his perspective perfectly echoes what we advise our clients, friends, and ourselves, regarding social media engagement.

For House of Cards fans, during one of his infamous first-person narratives to the camera, Frank Underwood noted that “imagination is its own form of courage.” For anyone who has yet to take the leap or see the value in social media from a personal perspective, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it. Imagine yourself interacting with and learning from individuals you had previously only read about, fostering relationships with an unmatched network of thought leaders, and carving out a voice for yourself in the space. It might take a bit of courage to put yourself out there, but just imagine the possibilities.

And for those brands who have yet to harness the power of social engagement and intelligence — from healthcare and digital health, to technology and pharma, through B2B startups to well-established B2C staples — the time to imagine how these social channels can drive opportunity and incredible value for your business is now. Remember, it takes imagination — and courage — to see innovation and opportunity where others cannot, and social media engagement is no exception.

For more information on how social commerce and SoMe intelligence is driving change, enabling opportunity and creating a competitive advantage across the marketing and communications landscape, be sure to follow #PreCommerce on Twitter for updates and notable information from W2O’s EMEA annual PreCommerce Summit, taking place in London on September 14, 2015.

Please see here for more information on the event. In the area? Come join us – registration is free!

When we look at millennial habits, social networks have become a remarkably important part the Millennials’ digital life.

We all know “The Facebook” first started as a community platform for college students. Today, the social network has over one billion registered users that connect and share information on a global scale.

Similarly, Twitter began as a source of ‘microblogging’, in which users could send out 140-character blurbs on anything they wanted. It has now transformed into one of the fastest and most viral opportunities to communicate breaking news and information.

A new source of information

Social media is becoming more than just a place for people to connect. It’s a reason for discovery, it’s a way to absorb knowledge, it’s shareable.

A survey conducted by the American Press Institute measured the use of several social networks as pathways to news-like information. Interestingly, they found that each social network is now considered a news platforms my proper definition.

Eighty-eight percent of Millennials surveyed stated that they occasionally got their news from Facebook, while Pinterest (36 percent) and Twitter (33 percent) were close to follow.

More often than not, Millennials engage more actively with news that’s already on social networks than developing their own social content. They tend to click on regularly read news that has been shared or viewed by people they know, which is ironic, since the original purpose of social media is to provide users the opportunity to connect with people to see what they’re talking about or interested in.

The fact that more Millennials are looking to social networks as a trusted source of information makes social media an extremely powerful tool.

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

In addition to being a resource for news and information, social media has also exposed Millennials to different opinions and views. This generation is constantly looking to social media for insights into purchasing decisions, political views, and social views.

Goldman Sachs Data Story on Millennials found that 34 percent of people aged 18-35 turn to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Unsurprisingly, this generation tends to do more online shopping than in the store, and brands that have little-to-no social presence are often overlooked when making purchasing decisions. If they aren’t being talked about online or among their social network, people will move on to brands that have a presence.

In recent years, political candidates have seen the impact social media has on Millennials’ lives and they have started to use that in their favor. President Barack Obama is one of the first presidents to have an active social media presence, in which he uses Twitter to inform and connect with his supporters.

Snapchat is a social platform that has seen a fast growth among the younger audiences, 71 percent of its core user base being between 18-24. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently joined the social messaging app in a move to reach this audience, those who will potentially be voting for the first time in the 2016 elections.

Most recently, we have seen social media set the stage for social activism. Many Millennials are now looking at social networks as a way to raise awareness of philanthropic efforts and initiatives, because they can reach a larger audience, at a faster rate.

In 2014, NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was taken out of Gaza for reporting the killing of four Palestinian boys by the Israeli Defense Force. The lack of media reporting on these issues in Gaza was quickly noticed, and the hashtag #LetAymanReport was developed to alert the world of the situation. Within 24-hours, Mohyeldin was back in Gaza and continued reporting on the whole story.

Similarly, events such as the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to shed light on issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Millennials have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions like no generation has before them and social networks give them the power to do so.

Also notable is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took to social media to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease marked by degeneration of the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. The social campaign, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, raised $115 million last year. It was so successful that the ALS Association has partnered with major organizations, like Major League Baseball, to implement the challenge every August until a cure is found.

Millennials have the power to inspire, facilitate change, and illicit choices.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and they don’t plan on slowing down. Social networks give them a platform to connect, learn, share, and educate. Their affinity for technology and their passion to have a voice has reshaped the way they view and use social media. In a time where you can Tweet, share a status update, Instagram, Vine, or Snap thousands of people at any moment, the Millennial voice is more important and impactful than ever.

millenials

Via Georgetown University Center for Social Communication Blog

I’m a “Slacktivist.”

At least, that is what the Internet tells me after I perform a quick search on “Millennials and Activism.” According to myriad voices, my generation is known for creating and implementing “Slacktivism,” a digital action plan in the form of online clicks, Facebook likes and media sharing surrounding political and social causes. The term is controversial: It has been used to describe this young generation’s “cheap” attempt at political action: Changing ones’ profile picture in support of a social cause; “Liking” politicians on Facebook or Retweeting them on Twitter; and using a specific hashtag (#BringBackOurGirls) or taking part in viral campaigns (the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) in support of a larger cause or relevant issue. All of this in place of actual volunteer work or donations.

However, our generation is far more complex than a simple retweet in support of X cause. I debate this purely because of my own efforts to make a change. Last semester, I started an after-school journalism program in a charter school in Syracuse, New York. Nine other journalism majors and I would leave class and walk to the school to teach high school students newswriting and inspire a love of storytelling. I am continuing the initiative this fall.

I know though that I am not the only Millennial out there trying to make a difference. In fact, there are numbers to prove it. We are recognized for volunteering in torrents for organizations like Teach for America and for donating to charities at a higher rate (87 percent) than our elders. And just because we are online, doesn’t mean we aren’t politically and socially conscious: In 2013, the Harvard Institute of Politics found that Millennials who were actively engaged on social networking sites had higher levels of political engagement and stronger partisan identity.

Still, there is more to the story than just quantitative analyses. At the most recent Committee of Millennials meeting, members of W2O’s New York office discussed why they support certain causes, the influence of collegiate charity involvement and the need to adjust the charity space to fit the digital age.

Christiana Pascale explained the need for Millennials to have a connection to the cause prior to getting involved. “If it is personal to me, if it is for a cause that has affected my life or someone close to me, then I am more likely to get involved and donate,” she said.

Pascale supports THON, otherwise known as the Pennsylvania State University IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Pascale says that, by remaining involved in the cause, she gets to give back to a cause she supports and remain involved with her alma mater.

“It’s always nice to have that connection to your school, especially for a good cause,” she said.

College is a notable time for Millennials to become invested in causes and develop the roots for continued involvement postgrad. Olivia Zucosky started a chapter of the Make-a-Wish charity on Colgate College’s campus and plans to remain involved in the cause after her graduation next spring.

“In college, you have time to start causes on your campus with your friends for a cause you are both passionate about,” Zucosky said.

However, the ability for Millennials to remain active and volunteer for causes they are interested in becomes limited when they enter the working world. Therefore, many turn to online donations as opposed to in-person volunteering efforts to offer support.

Lauren Barbiero explained that on-site volunteering often takes up too much time compared to financially supporting the cause online with a few simple clicks. “If it is online, that means it is easy enough to get involve with and to donate to,” she said.

Digital tools such as websites and social media channels are advancing the ways in which Millennials are donating and becoming involved in charities. Call-to-action buttons on organizations’ websites easily direct users to donation pages. By entering a code into iMessage and hitting send, Millennials are able to donate and support causes from their iPhones. Organizations are active across social media platforms to spread their messages across younger demographics.

“As charities and organizations become more digital, more social, it will become easier to recruit people to support and volunteer,” Anke Knospe said. “The digital age is going to revolutionize how people donate and support certain causes, especially for Millennials.”

 

 

What do you do when you’re not working? No matter what the generation, many will consider this same question, especially when the weekends come around. However, when asked who they will be with, Millennials have their own perspective on how peer-to-peer relationships should occur in the workplace.

Older generations are known for separating their work lives from their personal lives, but this is not the case for Millennials. Known as the digital natives, this demographic connects with peers on Facebook and interacts with colleagues outside of normal business hours. An infographic from PGI details how 71 percent of Millennials want their co-workers to be like a second family. To accommodate the growing number of Millennial employees who build their workplace relationships out of the office, organizations and businesses are rethinking their cultural efforts to better attract and retain top talent.

After all, a positive corporate culture is more important to Millennials than money. According to a survey from CNN, a full 60 percent of 2015 grads said they would rather work for a company that has a “positive social atmosphere” even if it means lower pay. A LinkedIn survey also reiterates the Millennials’ need for community building in the workplace. Of all respondents, 50 percent said workplace friendships motivate them, and 39 percent said these friendships make them more productive.

Still, actively creating camaraderie at work is easier said than done. In fact, this is where a majority of cultural efforts tend to fail—when the employer tries to play too large of a role in forcing friendships. In the Miami Herald, workplace consultant, Cam Marston, stated the most successful companies encourage young workers to take charge of creating the camaraderie they want at work themselves.

“Young people are saying we want a happy hour or we want a cooking class and we would like to organize it,” Marston said. “Employers are then facilitating those activities by giving Millennials space on the bulletin board or Intranet and not frowning when requests are made.”

office

W2O Group and its culture committee have a similar perspective on this aspect of employee engagement. According to Lauren Barbiero, media manager at W2O, the culture committee allows anyone in the office to participate or take the lead on things that are meaningful to them. She emphasized that this results in more active involvement because everyone genuinely wants to be involved.

In the New York office, a dodgeball team has epitomized how community building can be embraced by coworkers. Since its inaugural season in the spring of 2013, it has become a staple cultural activity for W2O. Meriel McCaffery, senior manager on the Corporate & Strategy team, said, “It definitely has helped me get to know folks across the company that I never usually work with.”

At W2O, there’s even a committee dedicated to—you guessed it—Millennials. A typical agenda for the Committee of Millennials includes socializing time, professional development activities and discussions with senior leadership. Led by Millennials for Millennials, it’s an opportunity for this group to discuss things that are meaningful to them.

Organizations that want to foster a community-building atmosphere for its Millennial employees need to stop overthinking it. The best relationships are formed when authority figures sit back and let the employees take the lead. Friendship is not something that can be forced. But, when Millennials have an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, their peer relationships will inevitably follow.

As summer interns working at W2O Group, we have the privilege to work on various accounts, develop analytical skills and work with the most innovative leaders in the industry. In addition to these opportunities, we were required to team up for the intern project and develop a marketing campaign to drive awareness for a local non-profit and increase the level of donations made by millennials. Over four weeks, our team collaborated across all offices to research our client, gather analytics and present our campaign to W2O employees and leadership. Initially, the project was intimidating. By the end, we all held a deep appreciation for the extensive work put in and insights gained.

As millennials ourselves, we encountered both advantages and disadvantages as we set out to create a campaign targeting millennials. As we researched various types of millennial campaigns, we quickly realized that our generation appreciates the opportunity to self-broadcast and personalize an experience with brands and organizations. Leveraging this, we decided our campaign needed to satisfy this expectation, while still communicating the organization’s mission in an interactive and compelling way.

We strategized methods to engage and increase donations from the “digital natives”, which encouraged us to reflect on our individual digital and social habits. We considered our inherent skills and relationship with technology to decide which social media platforms would best complement and drive our campaign.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what a millennial will like or engage in down the road because our likes and dislikes change so rapidly.” – Taylor Murphy, Digital Technology Intern

Clearly, our team was composed of only a small segment of the millennial generation, limited between the ages of 20 to 22. While our age range may have seemed like a disadvantage at first, it forced us to combine hard evidence with our individual experience to further our analysis. This allowed us to set aside our biases and expand our research to identify the universal characteristics that define millennials.

After our presentation, Bob Pearson, president & chief innovation officer at W2O Group, asked us, “Would you share this?” A question that resonated with us, we realized that as millennials, we are prominent drivers in the online space that want to share ideas and be heard. Pearson provided us with a takeaway that tied our analytics findings to our campaign ideas. With four simple words, he was able to sum up what our team’s main advantage was—we know millennials because we are millennials.

Aside from learning more about our own generation, we also learned about the dynamics of working on an agency team. Here are five takeaways for future interns working on this project:

Time management is a must

Agency life is characterized by the hustle and bustle of being billable. This is something you realize on day one. When our team was introduced to the intern project in the middle of June, we already had our own client work to keep up with. The juggling of everyone’s busy calendars during this period made Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant our best friend. It was necessary to find the balance between getting work done separately and as a group—two completely different dynamics, but equally important.

Working in a team spread across the country is hard

W2O Group has offices all over the world. If a person on your team works from London, you need to take into account a five-hour time difference or risk calling him or her in the middle of the night. Although we had no one working abroad, our team still had to navigate three different time zones. This was something that was difficult at first, but we eventually used it to our advantage. When team members could not finish something in the New York office, interns in the Austin and San Francisco offices could often pick up the slack.

“The project ended up being a valuable learning experience as we had to take responsibility for our roles and figure everything out ourselves, making it an exciting process.” – Mackenzie O’Holleran, Insights & Strategy Intern

Don’t limit yourself to a title

When teams are assigned the intern project, they receive a project brief and are told to assign various “leads.” There’s an analytics lead, a media and engagement lead, a creative lead and more. Something our group learned quickly was that, overall, a collaborative approach works the best. We produced our best work when we had a cross-over of people working on parts that weren’t necessarily their responsibility. This created a true sense of integration throughout our presentation and prevented us from appearing disjointed.

Everyone’s opinion matters

Disagreements were common during the intern project, but this was not a bad thing. If there were no disagreements, chances are our team wouldn’t have been taking the time to analyze ideas in the first place. Our team’s disagreements demonstrated that everyone really cared about producing quality work rather than making rash judgements and rushing into a decision. Although disagreement was common, we strove to foster an environment where everyone’s opinion was a valued piece to the campaign puzzle.

There will always be people willing to lend a hand

Do not be afraid to ask for help. The sheer number of employees that took time out of there busy days to help us with this project truly speaks to the great people that work here. These employees truly are an untapped resource to utilize for this project, and so much more. Expanding your network at W2O Group is essential and the intern project offers participants the perfect vehicle to do this.

The intern project not only gave us real-world experience working on an account, but it also taught us about the current media world we live in and how we, as millennials, can make an impact. We learned that our age and life experience are not setbacks but advantages. As both interns and millennials, we took advantage of our social media expertise and applied it to a campaign that would target a specific audience. Overall, the intern project taught us lessons that we will take with us as we advance in both our careers and the world at large.

– Andrew Petro, Olivia Zucosky, Danielle Hay

Intern Team Includes: Michael Capone (Digital & Analytics), Olivia Zucosky (Planning Lead), Danielle Hay (PMO), Tania Soto-Lopez (Analytics), Andrew Petro (Account Lead), Daniel Ayersman (Analytics), Mackenzie O’Holleran (Analytics), Dylan Stuart (M&E) and Taylor Murphy (CCX)

If you’re from Texas, you might know that a Longhorn, a Horned Frog, and an Aggie don’t exactly get along on the football field. That goes without saying if you also add in a Pelican, a Spartan, a Tiger, a Mustang, a Wildcat, a Bear, and even an Orange Man…you never know what you’ll find. Who knew Horned Frogs and Aggies could work together in a digital light? Or that Bears and Wildcats could become friends whilst inquiring and compiling useful analytics? Luckily for us, this was the perfect mix to create an excellent marketing campaign. In only one month and across four different office locations, W2O interns developed a simulated marketing campaign and presented a deck for a non-profit corporation to target millennials. Our subject was a local non-profit corporation that offers credit cards that cash back points as a channel to donate directly to charities of the user’s choice directly from their mobile app. How much easier could donating get?

“We collaborated across four different offices to #MakeItHappen, now that’s the definition of #LetsHang.” -Andrew Echeguren, Media and Engagement Lead

Millennials are not one segment – As you might know, the age group of Millennials differs based on who you talk to. By definition, we are between 18 and 34 years old. This is definitely a difficult age range to target, but we were asked to reach out to all millennials who are interested in giving back. When we ran our analytics, we found that millennials are interested in both charity and philanthropy. Our #1 source of information from millennials was from Twitter handles.

The power of hashtags – It’s easy to start a conversation in person with a simple “Hello, how are you doing?” or “Good morning, did you see the CNN news this morning?”…The web can seem a little overwhelming, but there is a way to focus the conversation. If you are reading this, you are probably familiar that it is called a hashtag. With our campaign, we wanted to reach millennials in creative and unique ways to get their center of conversations about how they can help and “Charge It Forward”. Our team created our own hashtag, #PositivelyCharged, to begin and facilitate conversations.

Crowd sourcing knowledge & diversity matters – Much like representing different mascots, each member on our team had a different skill set they each brought to the table…and those skills didn’t all come from one location. They came from four different W2O offices. Our planning lead, Lauren Harris, brought up the challenges of collaborating with a national team, and explained, “Working between time zones and offices was a new challenge that I think we all learned a lot from.” Back at our universities, the most distant person we will work with on a project, is across the lecture hall or living in a different dorm on the same campus. “Working across three different time zones was pretty tricky, but we all adjusted our work ethics and learned how to work around our obstacles,” stated Digital Lead, Brittany Pearson. That must be similar to what you may have learned a long time ago – or maybe not too long ago, depending if you’re a Boomer or a Gen X. Bottom line…we grasped that we are far more powerful as a team, than we are on our own.

Importance of presenting – More often times than not, a presentation of some sort is required as part of a project for class. Anxiety and fear is normal…but why? It’s only your peers, whom are your own age – and your professor of course, but that isn’t all too worrisome. For many of us, this was the first time to present to an audience other than classmates or teachers/professors. For some, fear came from anticipating speaking in front of leadership of our company…but this experience allowed us to understand how a campaign should correctly be performed. Our account lead, Caitlin Orwin, noted, “Presenting in a business setting was an invaluable experience that presented challenges foreign from any I’d faced in class presentations. No matter how many class presentations you give, none can prepare you for the real thing outside of an internship and I feel much more confident in my presenting skills after this experience.” Another insight per presenting, was from the team’s PMO, Anna Hodge, “It is rare for interns to gain presentation experience – I feel really fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to present to a group of W2O employees across the country.”

Think on your feet & don’t be shy – I think it’s safe to say we all learned that in the business world, you must think on your feet. For example, Greg Matthews, Managing Director at W2O’s MDigitalLife, asked an extensive question referring to the analytics information we provided. In class, a professor doesn’t necessarily ask you a question to get your juices flowing – they just give you a grade on what they think you deserve. It’s also important to learn how and when to speak up. Our team learned that you have to put your ideas out there and not think twice whether your idea will be rejected or glorified. Analytics Lead, Garrett Clare, reflected on how his “teammates were always helpful and insightful, adding their input when necessary, in addition to always being open to what others wanted.” You’ll never know unless you try…or speak.

Overall we learned that the soft skills of collaborating within or across offices and learning how to develop insights and then present them are as important as the hard skills of learning communications or analytics or marketing. Experience matters.

Now back to the mascots…we learned how to work together during the summer, but with football season approaching and going back to school, it might become a little harder…but we’ll figure it out 🙂

 

Note: our team includes Anna Hodge (PMO), Lauren Harris (Planning), Caitlin Orwin (Account Lead), Allison Rogers (Creative), Chantelle Patel (Media & Eng), Andrew Echeguren (Media & Eng), Brittany Pearson (Digital), Austin Thompson (Digital), Garrett Clare (Analytics), and Andrew Slade (Analytics)