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No Twitter Please, We’re Teenagers

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 by Chris Bull

Most people who read a newspaper will have picked up on the story of Mathew Robson, a 15-year-old intern at Morgan Stanley who wrote a report into teenage consumption of the media which broke surface a little over a week ago. At first glance this smacked of a well executed PR stunt after the story made a huge splash in the nationals and had significant penetration online.

However, upon reading the report in its entirety – rather than reading what other people have said about the report, which is where most conversations have derived from – it is actually surprisingly simplistic, logical, and to someone who was not a teenager all that long ago, far less than groundbreaking than you might imagine. Everything contained in the report, well, it just seemed rather self-evident.

For instance, one of the key points that the media picked up on is that teenagers don’t Twitter. Of course they don’t. You actually have to invest some time in Twitter to get anything out of it. It takes months, if not years, to actually build up enough followers for one to feel their tweets are actually reaching an audience which could be, in any way, defined as significant. And even once you do, there is little content other than the oh so boring medium of text.

Compare this to the Facebook experience where you can jump into a ready made group, lured by a diversity of visually stimulating and engaging content, such as pictures, applications and games. It’s all rather Scrabulous.

Many of the other observations are fairly straightforward, claiming, for example that most teenagers don’t read newspapers or watch the news…is this news? Were you interested in global geo-politics or the lack of transparency within the political system when you were 14? No, thought not. Funnily enough, kids aren’t now either.

Most kids have mobiles on pay-as-you-go because they can’t afford contracts…hold the front bleedin’ page…the FT did.

So ok, this isn’t a PR stunt, but it does demonstrate a few things. Firstly, that if you want a report into the habits of media consumption – or anything for that matter – to have penetration, keep it simply and write it in language that is not impenetrable to the man in the street. Secondly, if you want to know how teenagers consume the media or anything else, just ask them. Thirdly, a story really does not have to be groundbreaking to get blanket coverage; it just has to be insightful, informative and PR’d within an inch of its life.

The report in its entirety can be viewed here.

About Chris Bull

Account Exec for Staniforth PR, based in the TBWA\ Building in Whitfield Street, London. Areas of interest include politics, the car industry and sport.