- - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is using the Internet to reach young voters as he gears up for the 2016 Democratic presidential race. He declared free Wi-Fi is a “human right” and told CNN, “Younger people are choosing to live in cities. They realize that connections to each other are making us better — that Wi-Fi is a human right.”

Whether or not one believes Wi-Fi to be a human right, Mr. O'Malley honed in on the global connectivity millennials implore.

In fact, more than one-third of millennials prefer to communicate with pictures instead of words, according to a new report. The Cassandra Report published by Noise|The Intelligence Group collected data on 3,000 millennials from 10 countries and found that millennials represent half of the world’s population and have enormous influence and power, both economically and culturally. With a large global impact, the survey suggests that in order for the media and politicians to engage this generation, they must make some changes.

Harvard Political Review reported earlier this year that Matthew Warshauer, student director of Harvard’s Public Opinion Project, noted, “If [millennials] were more organized, they would be one of the largest voting blocs in the nation.” But according to the survey, media and politicians can better engage this powerful demographic.

The Cassandra Report shows that millennials are visually driven. “Most news today is not delivered in a way that takes this perspective into consideration, as many outlets are based on a legacy model tied to distribution. If you started a newspaper today, you’d never chop down trees, print news and deliver it a day later,” Jamie Gutfreund, CMO of Noise|The Intelligence Group.

Ms. Gutfreund said that it’s the distribution that has changed, and the information presented is still valuable.

For example, the study found that 69 percent of millennials use social media to stay current with what’s happening in the world. Millennials are “news hounds,” explaining why Buzzfeed and Mic.com are two news sites that are able to engage with this generation. It’s because they produce a mixture of content that connects news with entertainment.

“They rely heavily on visuals and graphics to add value and context to articles,” Ms. Gutfreund explained.

And as for politicians, Ms. Gutfreund suggested they better “brand” themselves.

The report showed that millennials tie their purchasing decisions directly to their individual reputations. The Cassandra Report found millennials most concerned with the environment over global issues, and almost 75 percent of respondents said they would choose a socially conscious brand over a luxury brand.

“Because of this mindset, politicians and brands alike must treat [millennials] as an investment or they will fail to ignite this group’s passion,” warned Ms. Gutfreund.

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