Zoe Saldana, Media Publishers Talk Strategies to Reach Millennials

In theory, it should be easy for Hollywood stars and media companies to connect with millennials by putting content on mobile devices.

The reality is the media world is still looking for ways to get the attention of this elusive audience, which gets harder and harder to reach.

Coming up with new strategies to make and deliver content that is compelling to millennials was the focus of a panel held Tuesday on “Reinventing Social Entertainment,” part of the ongoing Advertising Week conference in New York.

Actress and producer Zoe Saldana, who starred in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar, and Star Trek, joined Spencer Baim, chief strategic officer with Brooklyn-based digital media outlet Vice Media; Brian Angiolet, senior vice president of consumer products and marketing with Verizon; and Brian Robbins, founder of Awesomeness TV, for the discussion. Ryan Duffy, host of docuseries Now What, moderated.

A theme that came up repeatedly was the need to be genuine with the audience. Saldana said she connects with her fans and fellow mothers through social media not just about her work on film, but also her experiences raising twin boys. “It gives the artist the ability to establish a sincere relationship with their followers,” she said. “The fans feel they are seen, they are heard, and matter.”

Such a direct, digital social pipeline to the audience, Saldana said, cuts out middlemen and media handlers who might turn that interaction into something superficial—which followers can smell from miles away.

Ryan Duffy, Brian Robbins, and Zoe Saldana discuss the need for authenticity to reach millennials.

Ryan Duffy, Brian Robbins, and Zoe Saldana discuss the need for authenticity to reach millennials.

Content that also speaks to the burgeoning Latino audience in the U.S., Saldana said, while being sincere about understanding who is watching is an increasingly important part of connecting with viewers. “There’s a desire to see something in Spanish, even though it’s American,” she said.

Vice, Baim said, puts out content on topics young people care about, such as art, music, fashion, and technology. Part of Vice’s appeal, he said, is its videos try to speak with the voice of the current generation. “It kind of feels like the person who is watching it could have made it themselves,” Baim said.

Recent deals in the media industry, such as NBCUniversal investing in BuzzFeed, show that more companies in the industry are … Next Page »

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