Exploring relevancy and cultural context as Aurelie Jamard, our associate director of innovation, shares a few notes from last week's 'young and disengaged' breakfast panel session...

The topic of last week’s event at RKCR/Y&R was focused on young people and their disengagement from politics, but also from brands and, let’s put it out there, from older people, too. Three inspirational speakers shared some reasons as to why young people might feel disenfranchised, but also some tips to engage meaningfully with them.

Chris Preddie is the youngest man to receive an OBE at the age of 25. What did it mean at his age? He initially thought that he got into trouble with the law but quickly realised that it meant he’d done better than David Beckham. He reminded us all that communication was key to engage with young people and that politicians and brands should go and talk to their youth audiences, as the only way to get truly honest feedback from them but also to show that they care. Otherwise, how are these young people supposed to engage with politics or brands when their first priority is to “survive”?

Mimi Turner was next to tell us how the LADBible managed to engage so successfully with young lads online or, how she describes them, “good men”. The LADBible’s content is participatory, it comes from the community and it is uplifting (whereas older, more cynical generations might be thinking that bad news sells, people have always wanted to be happy through the ages).

Rajiv Nathwani concluded the session by giving pointers on how to engage with young people online across social media channels, even if your brand’s core audience is composed of an older demographic. His one take away was to put audiences first and think in terms of what they want, instead of what we think we know they want. In his words: “the user rules.”

My take away (and what we all live and breathe everyday working at Crowd DNA) was nicely summarised by all three of our speakers: “I can talk to young people because I understand their culture,” said Chris, “We know what lads want when it comes to politics – they want #CoolEdMiliband,” added Mimi, and “If content is king, then context is god,” concluded Rajiv by quoting entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk. In a nutshell, it’s fully understanding and harnessing the cultural context to any insight or innovation that will make you relevant in your audience’s eyes. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at how we go about visiting and talking to young people all over the UK: watch our Tribes Road Trip video. We promise, they don’t bite.