Is it really all about ping pong?

Is it really all about ping pong?

The Harvard Business Review recently wrote an article about what millennials want from work; the opportunity to play ping pong (or table tennis to us Brits) in a fun and casual environment. It’s (almost) becoming stereotypical in the way ‘millennials’ can be examined and dissected. But what about the value they can add?

About 18 months ago, a speculative ‘work experience’ request pinged into my inbox. We get quite a few here – perhaps PR is something millennials fancy as a career?! Anyhow, Jo’s email caught my attention. Personalised, no typos, interesting, concise – all components of a decent email, combined with the fact that she was soon to be graduating as a journalist, with a passion for writing…..and so Jo was picked to spend a week at Firework Towers for work experience.

What was the experience like for us? Well, she just got on with it; whatever we asked her to do – writing a blog, new business research or industry trends research for a client. Although she was quiet, on the whole, when she did speak she really made us laugh. It was a good week, all in all, given she was a newcomer to a fairly tight team. Then a few months later, she emailed again –she was now contemplating a career in PR; did we have any advice?

Advice we had, but did we have a role for her? We’d recognised the potential of talent, but our model is senior, experienced consultants – people that do a great job efficiently, largely autonomously, with expertise and credibility – a model that works exceptionally well for everyone involved – clients and for us.

Somehow however, Jo captured our interest; we met in Manchester for a coffee; and after a chat, well…we offered her a job. And 15 months later, our agency culture has changed – our, (some of) our humour, and certainly the way we work – largely down to Jo’s influence.

But after a year and a half (almost) – she is now leaving to travel and explore the world. Maybe we should have known better; what with millennials being harangued for their professional promiscuity (!), but it is definitely our loss. We’ll miss her quiet wit, her running film and TV commentary, the radio station being tuned to Radio 1 the minute we walk out the door, her ‘just give it 3 minutes and it’ll be over’ every time one of us gets fed up of the song on the radio!

She has improved the way we work, from presentations, the storing and sharing of information; she transformed our website and pretty much single-handedly introduced our newsletter. She’s become our right-hand (wo)man on so many fronts, including what to do when turning our computers on and off doesn’t solve the glitches; someone we trust with the detail and to deliver it on time.

So maybe millennials don’t hang around, but we’ve learnt not to underestimate their positive impact on business. And although we’d never try to compete with the desire to go travelling, as we bid her farewell, we’re hoping she might come back one day. Although our client-facing work will remain fronted by senior consultants, we’ve learnt better than to assume we’re beyond learning a thing or two from millennials.

Andrea Hounsham

Director and Co-Founder

Follow Firework PR on Twitter @fireworkpr

Posted: 15 July 2016

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