The BLOG: Voices

An open letter to the media about your perceptions of millennials

(Adobe Stock photo)

(Adobe Stock photo)

Dear journalists,

In a previous life, I was a news producer. So I get it. The best way to capture eyeballs for a story is to use stats, numbers and all of those wonderful “studies” out there.

Take this article by The Wall Street Journal, for example. It’s about teens who say “no” to social media. The article was published on Aug. 25, 2016. It cited data from a study in late 2014 and early 2015 by the Pew Research Center that 71 percent of teens use Facebook, half are on Instagram and 41 percent are Snapchat users.

But the problem is that this data is wildly … well … wrong. It uses a sampling of only about 1,000 teenagers from nearly two years ago to support a narrative about where the eyeballs in younger generations are today. And that’s hurting businesses.

I get it, guys. You’re truly trying to help. You’ve got your hands full, and so you rely on data collection experts to give you “studies” to build your content. I don’t blame you. You’re short-staffed. You’ve got a news hole to fill that’s bigger than ever. Social media has disrupted how you’re able to report. And you are just trying to report the news to the best of your ability.

But ladies and gents of the media, stop listening to these “gurus” writing the studies. Turn to the CEOs and the business leaders. Because while some people conduct phone studies to see what millennials think, others are out there actually engaging with them and selling to them.

Now I know you’re all going crazy with the election coverage. And that’s a beautiful place to start to build a deeper understanding of what I’m talking about.

Take, for example, all of the “experts,” “pollsters” and “pundits” who said Trump wouldn’t even be a joke when it came to the primary.


Yet for some reason, you keep listening to them.

Or look at the way that so many millennials have embraced Bernie Sanders (before he sold out, of course). What was one of the key messages of his that resonated with them? Corporate responsibility.

Now, personally, I think Sanders is a nut and terrible for business. However, there’s a tremendous amount of value in understanding what it was in his messaging that resonated with millennials. And if you can identify that, you can better understand this demographic.

Now to the whole concept of “responsibility.” Or how about the lack thereof?

We see it in colleges. You didn’t get your homework done? Well, that’s OK – we’ve got a safe space for you.

You don’t want to hear about offensive ideas? We’ll give you a “trigger warning” before we use scary words like “white people” and “Republicans.”

But let’s slow down for a second and keep in mind that “millennials” span a 15-year period. And so you really should stop lumping them all together even though it’s convenient to refer to them all in one generational title.

As a matter of fact, believe it or not, but there are just as many – if not more – millennials hustling their faces off than there are those whining that the car mommy and daddy gave them to drive to college wasn’t expensive enough.

And, believe it or not, there are even millennials running extraordinarily successful businesses.

See? We’re not all bad.

And so, my dear friends in the media, I beg you. If you want to know more about millennials, stop focusing on studies that survey 1,000 kids who have to pick up a phone to be part of the study.  Talk to the CEOs of businesses that actually SELL to people for a living. Our livelihoods depend on understanding those millennials. And I’d say that’s some data you can trust.


Kyle S. Reyes
President / CEO
The Silent Partner Marketing
“The Millennial Whisperer”

Kyle Reyes is President and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing.  He’s also an acclaimed keynote speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media.  You can find him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat (@dasilentpartner). Read his past blogs here.