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Embracing Generation Zoom

It's no surprise that young people are adapting to a virtual-only world with greater ease and creativity than the majority of us. Gen Z has turned to
Instagram to create and sign yearbooks, Minecraft for alternative learning, Twitch for discovering new talent, and Zoom for dating. Bizarre augmented-reality filters provide much-needed escapism. The rise of virtual makeup distracts from not having anywhere to get dressed up for. Social media challenges are aiming to normalize issues like mental health struggles. And they've even learned to manipulate algorithms to amplify minority voices on platforms like Tik Tok.  

Their education experience has also been revolutionized. COVID-19 forced thousands of institutions and millions of students to adjust to online learning overnight. The shift has been largely successful given the urgency, allowing many to access tools, webinars, and ideas they may never have discovered in traditional environments. But lack of
attendance and other alarming student behaviors (spamming the app store to get Google Classroom taken down, renaming themselves or customizing backgrounds on Zoom to get out of class, discovering a Reddit sting operation aimed at catching AP exams cheaters...) reveal a need for improvement. 

There's an opportunity to reimagine formats that allow for more trust and interaction when it comes to both remote education and professional development. On our end, w
e're inviting college students and recent grads to apply to a Fellows Edition of our Media Genius Master Class, aiming to merge the media sensibilities they already have with real-life industry implications.

The virtual program (five sessions, just one hour a week) will offer an in-depth look at our new Media Genius trends, featuring insights from our media experts, interviews with special guests, and interactive experiences. Selected students will up their media IQ, boost their resume, grow their network, and show off their creativity during this critical time of disruption.

While we all struggle during these turbulent times, canceled internships and lost experiences have left students with a uniquely difficult situation. Gen Z's ability to remain resilient, find ways to connect, promote positive messages, and create a new sense of digital-first normalcy is inspiring behavior for all cohorts. We should be pushing to help them build on these practices in whatever ways we can. 

Chris Perry


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What We're Reading
Media Intelligence
Doctors Are Tweeting About Coronavirus to Make Facts Go Viral
By Georgia Wells, The Wall Street Journal

A growing group of scientists and public health officials are active on social media and drawing large audiences. They say they feel a moral obligation to provide credible information online and steer the conversation away from dubious claims, such as those in “Plandemic,” a video espousing COVID-19 conspiracy theories that drew millions of views last week.

Modern Content Canvas
Memers are Taking Over TikTok
By Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

TikTok is being embraced by a new group of internet wizards: memers. Multi-platform meme brands like @Daquan, @Betch, and @Memezar have begun investing heavily in TikTok in recent months, already amassing millions of followers and surpassing many influencers. 

New Influence
Meet the VC as a Lifestyle Influencer
By Joan Westenberg

VCs today are tuned into the power of content. Whether it’s blog posts, podcasts, or Instagram, VCs use content to influence, shape their message, and brand-build both as a publicity tool and to facilitate dealflow. An Instagram or Twitter following at that magnitude with consistent content means a stronger ability to publicize investments and help them to gain traction while building pathways to the next round.

Zoom Is Giving Fandoms a New Place to Hang
By Aliya Chaudhry, The Verge

People in various fandoms (from Lady GaGa's Little Monsters to 5 Seconds of Summer's 5SOSFAM) have started using Zoom to connect with fellow fans. Often, it’s people they’ve never interacted with before, and it’s almost always people they’ve never seen face-to-face. Fans have been hosting listening parties, watch parties, crafting groups, book clubs, and even unofficial virtual “concerts” online using the videoconferencing app.  

Modern Content Canvas
'The Last Dance' is a Ratings Smash for ESPN. It's Also Creating an Onslaught of Michael Jordan Memes
By Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News

First, there was the iconic Crying Jordan meme. Then when the world needed it most, ESPN's "The Last Dance" gave us Laughing Jordan. Matt Schimkowitz, senior editor at the website Know Your Meme says the Michael Jordan documentary "is kind of a perfect meme artifact. Its target audience is incredibly internet literate and especially meme literate because sports fans are all about inside jokes." 

Modern Content Canvas
Why Animal Crossing Is the Game for the Coronavirus Moment
By Imad Khan, The New York Times

Animal Crossing has become the most talked-about game in the world, surpassing both Fate/Grand Order and Fortnite. With the real world in the grip of a pandemic, the game is a conveniently-timed piece of whimsy for millennials, some of whom grew up with the franchise, and with younger audiences experiencing it for the first time. And importantly, the escape it provides, thanks to “relentlessly-cheerful creatures” and a “warm hug aesthetic,” is incredibly well-received by those struggling with isolation and addiction.

Emerging Technology
Instagram's New Guide Feature Will Help You Find Wellness Content
By Alexandra Garrett
Instagram debuted a new Guides feature on Monday with the goal of making new wellness content a little easier to find, which is especially important when anxiety is difficult for many, teens especially, to manage. The guide lets Instagram users discover recommendations, tips, and other content from creators, public figures, organizations, and publishers. 
Deep Take
The Unknowable Now
By Almanac
Quarantine. Isolation. Social distancing. None of these things were part of our conversations a couple of weeks ago, yet now they shape our lives and psyches. For Generation Z, a future once ripe with plans and possibilities has been put on hold. Like the rest of us, their lives have been shaken up: kicked off college campuses, cut from jobs, and now quarantined with and without family.

Almanac reached out to hundreds of Gen Zs around the country to see how they’ve been impacted. This is what they shared about how they’re feeling, coping and even finding moments of joy. 
Copyright © 2020 Weber Shandwick

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