How to market to the influential young adults audience: the inside scoop from Paws PR intern, Courtney Tolbert


Paws PR intern Courtney with feline friend Brooke.

I recently spoke with Paws PR intern Courtney Tolbert a senior studying communications at John Carroll University in Ohio. I wanted to get the inside scoop on how to counsel our clients on reaching the young-adult demographic. It’s estimated that the 16-24 year -old population has a discretionary spending budget of more than $76 billion a year.  Therefore, it’s imperative to develop brand relationships and spending habits now that could last a lifetime. What’s Courtney’s advice for brands looking to reach her peers?

“Social media: Know it; use it; and love it.”

Here’s more from our chat:

Where do you get your news?

I definitely get the large majority of my news from online sources. I tend to follow various news sources on Twitter (CNN and NBC Nightly News) and when they tweet something that I think is interesting, I will click on the link to read the full story.

I tend to not really bother with print media anymore (unless your count Cosmopolitan magazine for pure entertainment). I just find it easier to use the Web. I also feel that Internet sources allow me to gather more information from multiple sources in a faster period of time.

What about blogs, any interest?

I don’t often read news blogs. If there is a news story that I find particularly interesting I sometimes catch myself reading the editorial pages or will scroll through the comment section.

Where do you spend more time: On social media, watching TV or listening to radio?

I check all forms of social media multiple times a day. I have undoubtedly checked my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram within the last hour. I also tend to watch a lot of television. I’m not a big radio person, whether it’s online or in the car. On rare occasion, I listen to the car radio when I’m driving, but this usually only happens if I’m too lazy to plug my iPod in.

If my friends were to be surveyed, I would say that at least 98% of them would answer these questions the exact same way that I have!

Online ads – Do you pay attention or ignore?

I am honestly a marketer’s dream. I click on 50-60% of the ads that are advertised on my Facebook. Whoever is in charge of tracking my likes and interests on Facebook is doing a phenomenal job continuing to send me ads that they think I’ll like because they pretty much all interest me. I clicked on an ad today about shoes that were 50% off, I found this to be an offer that was extremely hard to resist.

What influences your buying decisions most?

When I shop I think my friends are my greatest influence. We all have very similar likes and styles, so usually if one of my friends likes it, it’s a decent enough selling point for me.

What advice do you have for brands that want to reach you and your friends?

Advice I have for brands looking to reach my peers is pretty simple. Social media: Know it; use it; and love it. If a company can get a good following on social media they are guaranteed to at least be exposing their message to a large audience, and exposure is half the battle.

People in my age group definitely check some form of social media at least once a day, likely much more than once.

Though I watch a fair amount of television, as many of my peers do, I find that television commercials are far less effective than ads or postings on social media. Most people in my age group have an alarmingly short attention span and T.V. commercials simply cannot hold our attention (for the most part). Typically we just flip to a different show during commercials, or we’ve recorded it so we’ll just fast-forward them.

Social media combined with web advertising is the best way to go when trying to target a younger age demographic.

Want to chat with Courtney about marketing or pet PR? Tweet her @cetolbert22

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