During NYWICI’s Behind the Scenes tour @ Vice Media on Jan. 21, 2017, our host, Liz Mantel, offered insight into the media company that brands itself as “the millennial whisperers.” Liz is an account executive who works with brands and agencies to create unique ad experiences for Vice’s audiences. According to her, many advertisers seek out Vice because they need to reach young people — but they’re not sure how. Vice’s staff skews young, and therefore its employees can better reflect the millennial voice that clients want to hear.
So what’s Vice’s secret sauce? How do they connect with that elusive young audience, especially when that audience is far less receptive to traditional advertising strategies? The answer is surprisingly simple: by being authentic. And personally and professionally that is indeed valuable advice. Everyone brings their own perspective to the table, and remembering that yours has worth is critical for any woman in communications. Whether in the classroom or the office, you are where you are because people value your insight. Even if you’re just starting out in your career, knowing that making yourself heard is a far better way to stand out than simply repeating your co-workers’ opinions.
Similarly, authenticity makes your online persona stand out, so don’t be afraid to add some (tasteful) personality to your LinkedIn profile, personal website and on social channels. Audiences — and employers — want to see the real you, not just a cookie-cutter profile.
Vice has mastered the art of putting out digital content that’s engaging and inventive, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Liz discussed the company’s drive to “find white spaces” in content creation, seeking out areas of interest to millennials that Vice isn’t currently publishing, such as sustainability, online gaming communities and finance. Think about ways you can make your mark online in ways no one else can — whether it’s a Pinterest board full of your original DIY projects or a blog where you discuss your favorite media.
Perhaps the best piece of advice Liz had for students and young professionals was also the simplest: Don’t be scared. Because Vice’s staff is composed of so many young people, many of their employees find themselves with responsibilities that would be handled by older, more seasoned employees at other companies. While this is a great learning opportunity, it can be intimidating. Liz described “bombing” her first big meeting with a chief marketing officer because she was too nervous, but she learned from her mistakes and gained confidence in her abilities as she continued to pitch big clients. As challenging as it may seem to tackle that major professional obstacle, have confidence in your ability to handle the situation and remember your value.
Vice has grown exponentially in the past few years, truly a testament to the power of its young staff. Their drive shows in their media, and is what sets their brand apart from other digital publications. No matter your experience level, take a page from the Vice team’s playbook and give your all to creating something that matters to you.