PHD Grady Creative Collective researches media habits of multicultural millennials and Gen Zers

Multicultural millennials—those who identify as non-white—are on pace to make up the majority of all millennials by 2022, according to research cited by the PHD Grady Creative Collective, a learning partnership in its sixth year.

“Currently they are at about 45 percent of millennials and only increasing, which also means that their trillions of dollars in buying power is also increasing,” explained Savannah Rabin, a senior advertising major.

With this data in mind, the team was tasked with examining “a day in the life of a millennial’s phone” in addition to studying the media habits of multicultural millennials and older Generation Zers—“digital natives” born after 1995.

Rabin and fellow advertising seniors Kate Ackerman, Stephanie Addo, Grace Brandus, Grace Greenblatt, Ashton Litle and Katherine York were selected through a competitive process to work on the project for global media and communications agency PHD USA.

“The topic was incredibly complex with so many varying factors,” said Rabin. “It was difficult trying to pull insights without generalizing a group who is far from homogenous.”

“They worked incredibly hard and were highly motivated,” said Karen King, Jim Kennedy Professor of New Media and advertising, who advises the students.  “They did secondary research and a lot of primary research—over 100 in-depth interviews. We greatly appreciate our partners at PHD for giving our students this opportunity.”

Through the experience, Grace Greenblatt said she learned a lot about ethnic groups’ opinions on media and their different preferences. “It was really interesting to see how culture varies and how that manifests in media decisions,” she said.

All of the students’ hard work culminated in a trip to PHD USA in New York City to present their insights to executives on April 7, 2017.

“After our 45-minute presentation, we had an extremely engaging Q&A with the brightest minds of the New York office,” said Kate Ackerman. “Diving into such complex questions that I’m sure are being used right now for specific clients gave so much meaning to our six months of hard work.”

Added Grace Brandus: “My favorite part of the New York trip was the evening after our presentation when we met up with Grady alumni— many of whom had done the Creative Collective—and got to talk to them about their experiences, New York and life after college.”

The students expressed gratitude for the real-world experience they gleaned from the opportunity.

“I am grateful to PHD and Grady for supporting such an amazing program,” said Ashton Litle. “I am excited to see the program continue in the future!”

Study shows sharp differences between millennial communication professionals and their managers

Millennials are often criticized for the different values, qualities and skills they bring to work, according to a new study of millennial communication professionals (MCPs) by the University of Georgia, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Institute for Public Relations. Although the new study confirms the generational differences of millennials, it concludes that some differences like millennials’ strong values for diversity, transparency and social responsibility, will help advance and enrich the profession.

Juan Meng, associate professor of public relations at the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Plank scholar, was the co-principal investigator, along with Bruce K. Berger, research director of The Plank Center.

The study also reveals a talent management ecosystem organizations can use to attract, engage, develop, retain and gain from top millennial talent.

“Millennials get trained and then they move on,” said Meng of a typical pattern seen among younger workers in the communications industry. “They could be really engaged for the first year, then their engagement level drops sharply and they move on. We want to see the possible talent management system to identify those effective approaches to help the organizations successfully recruit millennials, develop their leadership skills and retain them as employees for an extended period of time.”

A survey of 420 MCPs and 420 professionals who manage them (MGRs) revealed sharp differences in perceptions about millennials’ workplace values and attributes, engagement, leadership capabilities, and recruiting and retention drivers.

Among the biggest differences of opinions are the following:

•       More than 80% of MCPs said they’re ambitious and passionate about work, but only half of their managers agreed. MCPs rated themselves much higher than MGRs did in work centrality (ambition, passion for work and professionalism), rewards and recognition, risk-taking and work-life-social values.

Workplace values and attributes




Ambitious about making progress and gaining new opportunities



Passionate about work



Willing to take risks at work



Value diversity of people at work



Supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies



•        Almost three quarters (70.9%) of MCPs said they are ready to lead. They rated their capabilities much higher than did MGRs for their communication knowledge, vision, team leadership skills, ethical orientation, strategic decision-making and relationship-building skills, and readiness to lead.

Leadership Capabilities




Demonstrate a strong ethical orientation and professional values



Ready to be an excellent leader in communication



•       MGRs rated their own engagement in the job (83.1%) and the organization (74.4%) significantly higher than MCPs rated their work (72.8%) and organizational (59.3%) engagement. However, MCPs with less than one year on the job were as highly engaged as MGRS; the level dropped sharply for those with 1-3 years of experience before returning to year-one levels after seven years.

“Millennial communicators come to the job excited and enthusiastic,” said Berger. “But those qualities soon fade for some who leave the organization due to poor cultural fit, supervisory issues or better opportunities.”

•       Two-thirds of MCPs said job decisions were driven most by reputation (68.1%), culture (67.2%), and location (67.4%), among nine drivers. More than 60% said key retention drivers were culture (63.8%), work-life-social approaches (62.4%), and development opportunities (61.6%), among 14 factors. MGRs’ perceptions of recruitment and retention drivers for MCPs were significantly lower for most factors.  


I was attracted to the organization because it…



Had a fine reputation



Is a very socially-responsible organization



Offered opportunities for growth and development



Has a very open and positive culture



Is a great location (geographically)





To retain employees, my organization…



Supports a work-life-social approach



Has a very open and positive  culture



Engages in socially-responsible programs



Provides growth and development opportunities



Particularly, MCPs said meaningful career planning, more mentoring and equal pay for men and women would increase retention rates.

Bringing the Positive Differences to Life with a Talent Management Ecosystem

According to the study, the generational differences are real, but so are some bright hopes and qualities within them. “MCPs see the world differently—from context to connectivity to crisis—but they are digital natives with great passion for leadership and strong values for transparency, social responsibility, diversity and community—all touchstones for our profession today. We can draw from these skills and values to enhance practice and build a brighter future,” Berger said.

To fulfil the goal of the talent management ecosystem, “the key is to contextualize and personalize actions in each process,” said Meng. “Organizations lean heavily on context, but the combination of the two is far more powerful.”

 The full report can be found here:

Infographic made by Britt Buzan, The Plank Center, Institute for Public Relations