Can a millennial reporter live without voice mail?

Jessica Levco

This is an embarrassing workplace confession: Up until yesterday, I didn’t set up the voice mail on my work phone.

I know, I know.

How can a reporter not have voice mail?

You’d be surprised. It’s been a pretty easy thing for me to get away with for almost three years. Sure, I’ve missed every single call, but I’ve never missed a story. And no source has ever told me or emailed me, “Why haven’t you returned my calls?”

First, allow me to explain how this happened:

When I first started working at Ragan, I was mostly writing and proofing newsletter articles. I never bothered setting up my voice mail because nobody ever called me. Eventually, I started writing for, but after six months had passed, I wondered, “How stupid would I look now if I said I didn’t know how to work my voice mail?”

Not having voice mail was my dirty little office secret.

But now as I’m writing more for our health care website, I decided it was time to figure it out—no matter how embarrassed I was. It just so happened that our IT guy called me the other day and asked me to confirm my extension number. I told him. And then, blurted out, “I don’t have voice mail on my phone!”

Later in the day, I found out that I was on speaker phone when I admitted this. Of course.

When I told my GenX editor all of this, she was amused—but I think she questioned my ability to do my job.

“What if a source was trying to get in touch with you? What would you do?”

I assured her that I’ve been able to function just fine without voice mail. Mostly, I think that’s because I’m a millennial. My friends and I rarely leave messages for each other on the phone. We communicate with texts, emails, Facebook messages, and carrier pigeons.

Reporting can be done in a similar way.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. When I need to contact a source for a story, I always email first and set up a specific time to talk with him or her. I never say, “Call me sometime in the afternoon.”
  2. If I was forced to leave a message for a source, I’d just say my phone number very quickly. Then, I’d say my email address five times on the voice mail—and hope for the best.

Plus, there’s always been a certain joy to not having voice mail. I was impossible to talk to—unless it was on my terms. I never had to listen to PR pitches over the phone. No prank calls. No soliciting phone messages.

But I’m ready to move on.

In fact, when I came into work this morning, there was a red blinking light on my phone saying that I had a voice mail. My first one!

 Well, it’s too bad I don’t know what my pin number is. Maybe I’ll figure it out next year.

7 ways millennials use social media to communicate

Ryan  Bradley Thompson is the lead social marketing strategist at Mark Travel Corporation. He loves to bike, read, write, and play music in bands.

“How millennial are you?”

This was a question I asked myself a few days ago when Ragan’s Millennial Mafia asked me to write a guest post for them. Given the fact that I was just outside of the traditional metric of a millennial (someone who was born “after 1980”), I wasn’t sure I could represent a millennial’s perspective.

But after taking the Pew Research Center quiz, I found out that I’m 85 percent millennial.

And according to Wikipedia, I still might qualify:

As there are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s.


Well, not only did I just shave a generation off my life, but I’m no longer a pencil-pushing Gen Xer. After all, I am 85% millennial, right?

Well sort of…

While I can’t go back and experience my teen years and early twenties again, I do communicate with the mindset of a millennial.

Here’s how:

  1. Texting. It’s quick and easy. I love it. SMS, MMS, Y-E-S. Beats a phone call 99 times out 100.
  2. Twitter. It’s social savvy and full of digital natives like myself. I’ve tweeted with some of my favorite people and some of them have written back.
  3. Facebook. As a social marketing professional, I use Facebook on the job, but also personally. Facebook is my phone book, my rolodex, and a walled garden of content and goodness—filled with my friends and rich online experiences.
  4. Email. I receive about 300 emails a day, plus hundreds of RSS feeds. HINT: You can replace Gmail ads with social profiles and a Firefox install called Rapportive.
  5. iPad. This is all about the user experience. I use apps such as Zite and Flipboard for nearly everything. And if I like a story I read, I don’t think twice about sharing it with friends.
  6. Face to Face. This is the best and most rewarding way to communicate with people. However, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for it. (Tear.)
  7. Phone. On a night that I’m not going out, it’s great to call a friend and catch up. But I probably already know what he or she is up to, since I just checked their Facebook status on my smartphone.