PaulMcEnany-AdGuru Despite the ongoing questioning about the relevance of "traditional media" in a fragmented Age of Conversation, there is no doubt that a blogger being featured in the mainstream media is still a novelty. For while reports and analysis continue to point towards social media reaching a tipping point, there is clearly a way to go before most of us reach the level of respect and authority that is wielded by the intern writing in the local community newsletter.

However, as the passionate and articulate Gen Y begin storming the cubicles and marching every onwards towards the corner offices, it is clear that brands and the businesses behind them are in for a rough decade of transition. No longer can they rely on a form of skull and cross-bones brand promise — interaction and engagement must go well beyond a simple raising of the flag.

Paul McEnany, the brain behind Hee-Haw Marketing, was interviewed in his local Dallas Morning News. When asked what is the biggest mistake companies make in dealing with Gen Y, he responds:

The biggest mistake is to assume that they give a crap about you. This is true across all demographics, but maybe more pronounced or obvious in the younger segment. This group has grown up with total control of their media environment, advertising included, and too many [companies] think they can just stroll in with screeching guitars while adding "for your generation" to the end of a tagline and expect that to connect.

This is echoed in Paul Den’s commentary on the banking industry:

Where all banking and finance [brands] … FAIL is that they lack the ability to resonate with my generation … I’m with NAB – not because I’ve been saturated with advertising, but because my mates recommended their Student Saver program when I was at uni. More often then not, especially with financed related products, we seek influence from our friends, family, work colleagues etc.

With a fragmentation of both media and influence, those brands wanting to reach, engage, hire and retain those born after 1980 are going to have to deal with the complexities and demands of Gen Y. And, to be honest, with an almost 1:1 ratio of Gen Y entering the workforce as the Baby Boomers retire, there is no choice if you want to thrive and survive. The challenge for brands is now to seek out those advisors, consultants and agencies that can help navigate this complex landscape.