Engagement and Effective Communication with Millennial Parents
The Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are defined as the generation born between the early 1980s and 2000, the largest generational cohort in history. They are now embracing parenthood and with their unique background, shaped during a time of change and digital immersion, their outlook and values will shape their expectations for their children (Gen Z). These children will be the most technically literate generation ever, the most formally educated and the most entertained and materially endowed.
You will play a part in this!
Millennials are tech savvy
As ‘digital natives’, Millennial parents expect personalised engagement and communication using social media. Data analytics are essential to guide strategic communications and engagement and using digital specialists (either in house or outsourced), a blended multi (or omni) channel approach will maximise your engagement.
Millennials communicate through constant digital connections and the mobile or tablet is their tool of choice. They demand ongoing and instant knowledge. (Patience is not a strong characteristic of this cohort). The printed newsletter or magazine is quickly irrelevant and Millennials demand immediacy and authenticity. Share your achievements and those of your students to validate your mission and values. Tell a story, share videos and photos on social media to connect with your community.
With an abundance of information and a wealth of choice available, much research has taken place before decisions by parents are made. Remember you are no longer speaking with just the mothers at home. Their choice of school will be shaped by those who can demonstrate added value, are authentic, and whose brand reflects the values of Millennials, a global approach to learning, a sense of social responsibility and service to others, along with a commitment to both lifestyle and learning outcomes.
On average, the Millennials stay in a job for three years and have a number of different careers in their working lifetime. They learn, get the most out of it and move on. Will this also be a pattern for their children? Will we see students moving between schools regularly due to disenchantment, demand or just looking for a change of scenery? This will certainly be a challenge for schools’ enrolment and communication professionals.
Respect is no longer a given, it must be earned. Millennials have regard for people, not institutions so personalise your engagement. In an era of digital connectedness, the human element remains essential. Show empathy, creativity, patience and respect for your customers (current and future). Be available and responsive. Personalise your connection and make your community part of your Advancement team.
Millennial parents see their children as a priority, and the classroom, home, work and extended out of school activities have become an integrated learning space. Despite the use of technology within these spaces, emphasis on educational outcomes, personal relationships and connection remains Number 1. We must respond to and monitor the needs, concerns and behaviour of parents and their interaction with others in the community via social media. They, too, are part of your collaborative marketing and public relations team.
As we acknowledge the values and expectations of Millennial parents, how do we as Advancement professionals, address the unique challenges of engaging and communicating with them in an educational setting?
How can we best attract them to our brand, connect with them and secure and maintain their commitment?
As competition for gaining and maintaining enrolments intensifies, securing and growing your brand is paramount. Rising to the challenges of successful engagement and communication with your Millennial parents, and indeed the whole school community, is not a choice but a necessity if your institution it to remain viable and strong as it moves towards an unknown but exciting future.
References and further reading:
Preparing now for what’s next. Michael McQueen. Nexgen Impact, 2008
McCrindle: Australia 2020: A Shapshot of the Future