Public Relations Tactics

Preparing Millennials for the PR profession

October 3, 2012

As one of the 46 million Americans referred to as a “Gen X’er,” I often become weary from the media’s over-analyzing of the needs, wants and desires of our predecessors, the Baby Boomers, and our successors, the Millennials (Generation Y), while my generation is all but ignored.

Seventy-two million Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 comprise the largest number of births in a generation. Their children, the Millennials, born between 1982 and 2001, make up close to 90 million births in a generation.

These are numbers that keep advertisers and marketers up at night thinking of ways to appease and entice these potential consumers.

What I find most interesting about these two generations is: While statistics show that more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65 every day between now and 2030, Millennials are simultaneously entering the workforce at a rate of about 3.4 million per year.

So who do you think has been mentoring, teaching and guiding these Millennials as the Baby Boomers set off for Arizona?  You got it — Gen X.

Within the workplace I’ve managed Millennial staff members and, for nearly a decade, I have taught hundreds of Millennial students who want to have a career in public relations. I truly love working with this generation and find that they are eager and willing to learn and grow within the profession as long as you are willing to be honest, engaging and communicative with them.

In the classroom, I am transparent and clear about my course goals. Specifically, I inform my students that my job is to prepare them for success within the PR profession. In all of my PR courses, I set forth several learning outcomes for my students:

  •  I expect them to learn how to write well, write coherently, write persuasively, and write in a variety of tones, forms and styles.
  • I expect them to understand the business of media and how the PR profession helps the media industry run.
  • I want them to think critically and strategically about how to reach, engage and target audiences, and how to tie their efforts into an organization’s overarching goals.
  • I teach them how to conduct various forms of research and how to bring measurement and evaluation into their efforts.
  • I teach them about the importance of being advocates for their organizations and the publics that those organizations serve. 

As students yearn for leadership, guidance, structure and transparency, I provide a detailed roadmap for my courses and explain how and why what I teach them will be useful in the “real world.”  The ultimate measure of success for me is when my students write to tell me that they used tactics from my class to successfully land internships and jobs.

Through the years as a professor, my interactions with Millennial students led me to realize that they needed more mentoring. So I’ve spent many hours counseling students and graduates about how to find a job, how to network, how to land an internship and the like.

As a result, I’ve created a Facebook fan page, Your PRMentor, and I use my Twitter account to provide advice and guidance about the PR profession and to share internship and career opportunities with them. I’ve found that the more often I can help serve as a willing resource for this generation of PR pros, the more likely our profession will become the strategic management function that it sets out to be.

Dionne C. Clemons, Ph.D.
Dionne C. Clemons, Ph.D., is a strategic communications thought leader and educator. She currently serves as Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the United Planning Organization in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @Drdcclemons.


Linda Elaine says:

Excellent food for thought for us Baby Boomers: Instead of riding off into the Arizona and Florida sunsets, we might also mentor some Millennials, using the gifts, talents, and skills we honed in the workplace.

Oct. 12, 2012

Sandy Charet says:

Great article, Dionne. I'm especially glad to hear about your work in mentoring students on how to get a job in PR. This is increasingly difficult and graduates face obstacles in the marketplace today that are much tougher than in years past. Also, I have often found that PR graduates don't get the full picture on how broadly and differently PR can be applied inside and outside of companies. So I'm sure that your mentoring can help with that as well.

Sept. 9, 2013

Susan Allen says:

I'm going to share this article with people I know. But the question leaves out a whole generation of people born between 1965-1981. What is this generation? They seem to get lost in our PR work.

Oct. 1, 2013

Linda Beltran says:

Might I also suggest that you include a reminder to speak clearly, concisely and to avoid the (over)usage of "like" in a business setting. It's difficult to take someone seriously when they cannot forumlate a sentence/thought that isn't riddled with the word. This is one of my biggest issues when I interview a Millennial...I need to know that I can put them in front of a client/media guest and represent the company/brand in a polished, confident manner. One would assume that being well-written also means being well-spoken, but that is not necessarily the case.

Nov. 5, 2013

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