Today's young people are apt to be more technologically savvy than their parents. These days, that means so much more than being able to program the VCR and getting the digital clock to stop flashing 12:00 ... 12:00 ... 12:00.
Technology today for young people means being able to manipulate mobile devices so they can be constantly in touch with friends. It's about knowing what "important" celebrities are up to and what they're saying, and knowing 24/7 exactly where friends are, thanks to GPS locators and FourSquare.
Almost all of the 100 million Gen Y-ers are on Facebook -- 94 percent to be precise, according to a September survey by Ypulse. The most popular way for the Gen Y crew to communicate is via texting, even, unfortunately, while driving at 60 mph. Fifty-five percent stay in touch via texting. Facebook is the primary form of communication for 24 percent, ahead of talking by landline, cell or VoIP, at 10 percent. Only 1 percent of Gen Y-ers use email as their primary form of communication.
It seems that talking is disappearing among the younger crowd. Even when they're together -- hanging out at a party, at a music venue, in school (on the sly) -- they're texting rather than talking to each other face to face.
Although they're spending more time writing to communicate, I don't think the written shorthand of texting and Twitter is doing much to elevate the art of writing.
What will these changes in how we communicate mean for marketers and public relations pros in the not-too-distant future? OMG, will news releases look more like Twitter tweets, drastically abbreviated and punctuated by hashtags?
Marketers are experimenting with commercial text messages, but unless they've been given permission by the intended recipients, those efforts may be seen as spam. And I wonder how the next generation of PR people will try to communicate with their media targets. How effective can a 3-line text message be to sell a complex story idea?
It will be a challenge, especially if the Gen Y-ers who become reporters, producers or bloggers only look at text messages or Facebook updates.