Communication Skills Gen Y Workforce

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www.hbr.org

HBR CASE STUDY

Gen Y in the
Workforce

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yo

How ca n Sarah and
Josh work together
m ore effectively?

by Tamara J. Erickson

Do

No

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Reprint R0902X
This document is authorized for use only by sharmila mohapatra until January 2012. Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.

HBR CASE STUDY

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How I learned to love millennials (and stop worrying about what they were doing with their iPhones).

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Gen Y in the Workforce

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“RU BRD?”1

The text message from Ashok stood out in bold
block letters on the small screen of Josh Lewis’s
iPhone. Am I ever, Josh thought, stuffing the
device back into his pocket and emphatically
rolling his chair away from his PC and the backlit spreadsheets and formulas that had made his eyes bloodshot and his mood sour. He stood
up, stretched, and took a minute to consider
his plight: For the past three days, he’d been
crunching U.S. and international film sales, attendance, and merchandising figures nonstop for his boss, Sarah Bennett, the marketing chief
of the movie division of Rising Entertainment.
Bennett and her team were in the midst of
prepping the promotions, advertising, and
branding plan for the next Fire Force Five film;
her presentation to the company’s CEO, its
head of distribution, and other unit leaders was
planned for Friday.
Two more days—many more hours, many

No

Do

COPYRIGHT © 2009 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

by Tamara J. Erickson

more stats to go over before I sleep, the 23-yearold marketing associate estimated. He plunked himself back down in his chair.
A recent graduate of the University of Southern California, Josh had had visions of making films that offered strong social commentary—
like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth or Morgan
Spurlock’s Super Size Me—and distributing
them on open platforms so that his message
could reach the greatest number of people.
With some championing from his uncle—a
well-regarded TV producer who knew people
who knew people—Josh joined Rising Entertainment, one of the top three multimedia production and distribution houses in the world. The company boasted large film, television,
home video, music, and licensed merchandise
units, with a catalog of thousands of properties.
Josh expected that the studio, with its location
in the heart of Los Angeles and satellite offices
in six countries, would offer plenty of excite-

HBR’s cases, which are fictional, present common managerial dilemmas.

harvard business review • february 2009
This document is authorized for use only by sharmila mohapatra until January 2012. Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.

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G en Y in the Workforce •• •H BR C A SE S T UDY

nition—the details of which centered primarily
on TV ads and an aggressive print campaign—
Josh had casually joked about how 1990s the
whole plan was. It was as though DVRs, filmrelated websites and blogs, virtual worlds, and YouTube didn’t exist, he thought. As though
the question of how to capitalize on the freecontent movement was still something plaguing the guys in the record business and not anyone else.
No one watches network TV anymore—or
network TV ads, Josh had pointed out during
the meeting. Instead of relying chiefly on traditional marketing channels, he said, why not try new media? Make the movie theme song available for download for Guitar Hero. Or, even better, make one or more of the Fire Force Five

movies available online and embed teasers for
the latest sequel within them.
Sarah had immediately balked, noting the
creaky Rising Entertainment website, which
boasted very little traffic and even less functionality. A “successful” online campaign for the third Triple-F movie in 2005 had nearly
taken down the studio’s entire...
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