Ops on the urban language? Tailoring comms to target Gen Z

Chelsea Debnam and Jade Ling smaller2

In PR theory we are taught that to reach a specific demographic we have to pick the right platforms, tone and key messages for effective communication. But what if your target market is teenagers? Here, our apprentices Jade Ling and Chelsea Debnam talk about what we have affectionately named their ‘urban language’ and why being clever with the way you talk to your audience will be what helps your message resonate.



We are the youngest members of the team here at Prominent – at 18 and 19 years old.

While we are treated as equal members of the team – whose opinions and ideas are as valid as those of the colleagues who have been in the workplace more than a decade - nothing demonstrates the age gap more than the language we speak and the way we communicate.

In fact, Ellen often looks at us perplexed when we have a conversation.
“That’s a mood!”
“So exposed!”
“What a roadman!”

It’s phrases like this which made her coin the term “urban language”.

But as much as we enjoy teasing her with new phrases – and teaching her to say them for our own amusement – this form of communicating is a perfect example of what we do in PR.

After all, you can’t reach your customer and expect them to engage with your brand unless you speak to them in a way the understand.

Our clients come to us and ask us to put together PR campaigns to raise visibility of their product or service and increase sales. And the first thing we do when starting with any new project is to delve into the minds of their target customers. Where do they go in their spare time? How do they get their news? What will make them buy a product? What words do they use? What social media platforms do they like?

And it’s through this understanding of a target market that helps us do such a good job.

Put it this way, there’s no point marketing a product for young people in a 50+ magazine is there?

Or putting an advert on the radio targeting working people while they are in the middle of the working day (unless they have the radio on in the office, of course!)

That would just be “clapped” (urban language people… keep up!)

We know how to connect with people from all different backgrounds, all walks of life and all age groups.
And it’s this approach that has helped us win awards.

Last year, we won the education campaign of the year category at the Chartered Institute of PR awards for our work with East Cambridgeshire District Council.

They asked us to help them increase recycling rates across the district.

We knew that recycling starts at home, and young children are powerful when trying to convince parents to change their habits, so we created a recycling mascot, Michael Recycle. We engaged a local primary school to design him and bring him to life, and we sent Michael out on the road, working with school children to educate them on the importance of recycling. ECDC enjoyed a record year, reaching the 60% recycling mark for the first time.

Michael had it sussed. He had children “buzzing”.

If you need help in reaching your target markets in an effective way, contact the team and we’d be thrilled to help you. We might even teach you some of the urban language too.

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