Millennials: Untapped Advocacy Activists
Jamie Grigg, a proud millennial and Goddard Gunster’s director of accounts, is filling in for Gerry Gunster this week. Her focus is on public policy grassroots outreach at the state and local levels.
In Washington, millennials know where they stand when it comes to politics.
Many come to D.C. specifically to work for an agency or elected official who has a clear place on the political spectrum. The lucky ones are those who actually get to work for an issue they believe in or for a party they can identify with.
Though millennials are just a small part of the Washington population, we pack a big political punch, as most of us are not afraid to tell you what we believe and why.
Why then are campaigns struggling to get us to take action?
Research shows that seven out of 10 millennials consider themselves social activists.
Millennials want to be seen as the “do-good” generation. We are more likely to invest in products and defend issues that are considered “ethically sound.” We have a genuine interest in making the world a better place. In short, for our generation it is cool to be socially conscious.
What does “action” look like? One in two millennials donates time to support favorite causes. One in five participates in rallies or contacts local representative.
We boycott! Look no further than the response we had to Chick-Fil-A’s stance against gay rights, for example. Millennials took to social media to get the words out to our peers and stopped visiting the fast-food join faster than you can say “Eat More Chikin.”
The desire to take action exists; we just need to feel motivated.
Turning Activism Into Voting
So why did only 49 percent of us vote in the last presidential election? My educated guess is that campaigns aren’t sending the right messages. Political strategists and public affairs professionals have identified millennials as one of the most important – and passionate – political voting blocks. But only recently have some gone as far as to launch specific programs aimed to appeal to this generation.
The long-held strategy for advocacy campaign messaging is to appeal to the self-interest of the voter. History has shown that the only way people will come out and vote is if it affects them personally. But millennials are a new voting generation, and we are motivated differently. Global interest can trump our own self-interest. And people are only just starting to understand that about us.
To attract millennial advocates, an advocacy campaign’s messaging must touch on how the issue is going to make a positive impact on society as a whole. Millennials will band together and take action, but you have to convince us your coalition’s message is promoting a global good.