Bridging the Gap: Five Tips to Harness Generational Diversity in the Public Relations Field

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This post is part of diversity series for Progressions.

“Our generation will be the one hiring you someday,” my parents reminded me for the millionth time, slipping a final snippet of professional advice into our dinner conversation.

We were discussing the controversial issue of tattoos and piercings in the workplace — and not making much headway — when I first recognized that generational diversity existed and mattered.

In “Moving Beyond the Hype of Generational Diversity,” Jamie Notter explains generational diversity as the differences experienced “based on broad variations in values that develop based on the contrasting environment and social dynamics each generation experiences as they come of age.”

Although we would like to brush off many generational opinions or tendencies as mere stereotypes, it’s to our own benefit that we pay attention to them. As Millennials preparing to enter the public relations field, we need to understand the beliefs and expectancies that other generations may bring to the table.

Here are a few valuable tips I’ve picked up from my more seasoned coworkers and supervisors:

  1. You’ll never regret bringing a pen and notepad. What if your iPhone has no service when you go on a client visit? What if your tablet runs out of battery? Members of Generation X tend to be more suspicious of technology, leading them to always be prepared with a tech-free backup plan.
  2. Don’t let glitzy technology substitute for a strong message. You can only woo your boss with fancy apps and programs for so long. Becoming a Prezi guru won’t help you much if you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Make sure to focus first on developing the message, then how to best communicate it.
  3. Phone calls can get you a faster answer. Although our generation isn’t as prone to dial our coworkers, phone calls can be more efficient than a long email chain. Plus, sending an email allows someone to reply at his or her own leisure, whereas calling someone requires instant feedback.
  4. Always send a thank you note. Not a thank you email, nor a thank you text. Even the most proactive Generation X members will appreciate hearing of your gratitude through this old-fashioned method. For more on this, see the tip below.
  5. Never underestimate the power of good manners. The one business tactic that garners universal respect is politeness. Pay attention to the way you talk to your coworkers, but pay extra attention to how you treat the delivery guy or the waitress at your business outing. Your superiors will notice!

 What have you learned from observing other generations in the workplace?

 Laura Daronatsy is a sophomore public relations student at Biola University. She is the 2014-2015 vice president-elect of Biola PRSSA and can be found on Twitter @lauradaronatsy.

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