Technology has accelerated generational differences at such a rate that adaptation and innovation are vital to every pregnancy center’s success. Explore what is being done to create millennial reaching resources for PRCs and what you can do to reach millennial and centennial clients.
Around Heritage House there is a bit of a standing joke about t-shirt designs; “If Brandon hates it, teenagers will love it!” Unfortunately, there is a kernel of truth built into that joke, which is, I am old. OK, not that old, but, in terms of technology, I am ANCIENT! The technological age gap between myself and the youngest generation causes misconnections and miscommunication unless I am continually working to bridge that gap. This is, unfortunately, also true for every pregnancy center around the country. Reaching the next generation has inherent difficulties and pitfalls. What can be done to create clear lines of communication and strong relationships? The good news is, LOTS!
What hasn’t changed…
First, it is important to realize that there are core truths that do not change. Love, and the desire to be loved, is a constant. Love is the motivation of the Gospel message, which is, God first loved us (1 Jn 4:19) and out of this love He died for us (Jn 3:16). This love is the inspiration of every PRC and the cry of every client. Second, your clients desire relationship. This is a need hardwired into every soul of every generation as we express our yearning to have a relationship with God. You have the amazing opportunity to use the relationship you have built with the client to point toward the loving relationship they can have with their creator. These are needs and desires that simply will never change.
What has changed…
Love and relationship are constants, but the way they are expressed has drastically changed in recent years. Where most interaction was previously achieved through activities done together, a shift has occurred to create meaningful interactions in virtual environments. The younger generations congregate and communicate in ways that many of my generation see as silly, wasteful, or simply meaningless. We may condemn excessive screen time, scoff at virtual friends, and laugh at the possibility of serious online interactions, but the reality is that they all exist. With over a billion hours of YouTube consumed every day and millennials using social media for over five hours a day, it is clear that communication methods have changed. The real question is, have we?
What must change...
The starting point of reaching the next generations is to recognize where we are not experts. God’s word says that “with humility comes wisdom” (Pr. 11:2) and this is the appropriate approach to working with younger generations. We grew up learning to use technology as tools. The new generations have grown up with technology as part of their personality. The beginning of wisdom on this subject is to understand your limitations that create an inherent experiential disconnect. Then, learn to overcome them.
Once you come to the problem from a place of humility, it is not so hard to find solutions. At Heritage House, we have aggressively worked to ensure that our products and especially our videos connect with your clients. We create surveys, test audiences, millennial study groups, pre/post tests and so much more to ensure we are reaching the target audience. We have hired millennials to create our content and bring their younger experience to bear on our products. We watch YouTube to stay in touch and we join online interactions just for the context. You can see the real-world results of these efforts in the feedback we are getting:
Our videos are making an impact with young audiences; but only because we intentionally and constantly work to reach them. In fact, we are proud that our client focus has created videos with 0% boring ratings and 100% “Recommended for Others” ratings. In short, our efforts to help you reach your younger clients are paying off!
There is, in all of this, a bit of irony. Our videos make some in later generations a bit uncomfortable. We have heard from a number of older customers that they love the content but the beat of the music, the sudden transitions, and the silly humor all seem too much. This is understandable because my generation did not grow up watching a billion hours of YouTube. However, the younger audiences, as our pre/post and reaction tests show, LOVE it! Herein lies the difficulty. We each have our likes and dislikes and sometimes our personal preferences cause us to reject the exact things that the next generation embraces.
The real challenge is determining what is important, such as the content and message, and allowing those things that are secondary, such as the medium and style, to change with the new generations.
How does this apply to your ministry? How can you adapt for your changing client base?
- First, be humble and open to change. Don’t compromise on love and relationship, but understand the reality that the younger generation is different, particularly in the area of communication.
- Second, get input and feedback from the younger crowd. Let them give design ideas for your center, listen to them about ways you should communicate with them, and enjoy their differences.
- Third, if you can, hire them! Then, value their input and their unique technical skillsets. Train them up to be your successor as the pro-life torch is passed to those who will need to reach the next new generation.
- Finally, ensure you are using resources and tools that are made for the generation you are trying to reach. Look for videos that have been audience tested, brochures that are millennial designed, and curriculum that is made to connect and communicate with the newest generations.
What we know…
We know that we do not have all the answers. We know that our PRC customers are the ones on the front-lines making a difference in the lives of thousands of women, men, and their children every day. We know that the pregnancy resource center is truly the soul of the pro-life movement. We also know that PRCs have adapted in the past and will adapt again as the generations change. Enjoy this moment of change, plant the seeds in the next generation to come, and sit back and watch the fruit grow from your years of humble wisdom.