Photo illustration by John Lyman; Gage Skidmore

It is Time for Trump and Biden to Work Harder to Attract the Gen Z and Millennial Vote

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted everyone’s way of life. Some people are working from home. Others, especially teenagers, are sitting on their couches, while staring at their phones and televisions screens, awaiting updates on whether they will be returning to school in the fall.

Take it from me – I am an 18-year-old college freshman who checks his Twitter feed frequently and has the national news on a television screen in the background. As you can see, I can relate to the majority of students my age during the pandemic.

From the people my age that I have spoken with in the past few months, I have gathered that our routines are quite similar. We wake up, participate in summer classes and part-time jobs, do an hour of outdoor exercises, and have dinner with our families while voicing our opinions of what we are watching unfold live on CNN or Fox News.

In June, The Conversation conducted a study that suggested 82% of parents agreed that their child’s screen time increased during the pandemic due to online classes and sitting at home. 30% of parents believed that their child’s screen time increased by at least four hours per day.

But how could Joe Biden and Donald Trump take note of this to attract potential voters?

“Political candidates should use this time to strategically attract a new base of voters that have exhibited increased media consumption preferences on alternative media platforms during the pandemic,” said Kris Ruby (@sparklingruby), a social media commentator on national cable networks and CEO of Ruby Media Group.

“If you want to reach social media-savvy millennials, candidates should consider an increased advertising spend and media buy on podcasts that have significant reach with millennial listeners.”

Following his early struggles with attracting voters from the 18-39-year-old age group during the primaries, Biden’s campaign created “League 46,” an expansion of the “Students for Biden Coalition,” to network with first-time and college-aged voters. Trump, on the other hand, has not precisely emphasized how he plans to attract younger voters but has spent five figures on multiple occasions for advertisements on social media platforms.

“If Biden and Trump want to reach students across the nation over the next month, they should consider hosting more virtual campaign rallies. Virtual conferences, online learning, and webinars are the future, especially in B2B (business to business) marketing,” said Ruby.

In late June, The Alliance for Youth Action and Change Research released a poll that provides the Biden and Trump camp with insight on how to attract voters in the 18-39-year-old age group.

30% of survey respondents said that they had seen digital advertisements from Biden’s campaign and the DNC. In comparison, an additional 30% said that they had seen digital ads from Trump’s campaign and the RNC. The majority of Generation Z voters said that they had seen more digital advertisements from Trump’s campaign than from Biden’s campaign.

In the poll, millennials said that they receive their news and updates from local and national news outlets, as well as social media. Nevertheless, Gen Zers noted that they rely on social media for gathering facts and information.

While many voters tend to receive their latest news and updates from a simple scroll on Twitter, Kris Ruby believes that Biden and Trump should trust their respective public relations directors and social media managers with generating a positive public image ahead of the third quarter of the 2020 presidential election.

“The key to a successful digital public relations campaign is not to have a revolving door of consultants with ever-changing tactics and a moving strategy: we are too close to the election date and there is no time for that. Hire consultants you trust, and get out of their way to let them do what they do best,” said Kris Ruby. “Political advertising is most effective when a politician does not sabotage the efforts of the PR agency or social media marketing campaign manager they have retained.”

After thirteen years in social media consulting, Ruby says one thing is clear: the most effective political advertising campaigns are ones that follow a set plan of action and are not derailed by internal sabotage. According to Ruby, everyone needs to be on the same page, and the PR team needs to communicate with the social media team and the legal team, too.

“If I propose a social media marketing campaign on how to effectively reach millennials through targeted digital public relations and you go off-brand and start tweeting points that derail the PR campaign, the dollars will ultimately be wasted because a new fire has to be put out,” said Kris Ruby, a pre-eminent social media expert in the field and a New York-based media consultant.

With the majority of college students in the United States heading back to campus within the next few weeks, it will only be a matter of time and money of who will be out in front ahead of November’s election.