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How PR pros can thrive in the new world order of media relations

Steve Marino

Professors, bloggers, and experts across a wide variety of fields can be used to write articles that have reach and impact today that didn’t as easily exist in the past.

Pete Marino, MillerCoors

 

I remember growing up at a time when my parents and all their friends would quote stories from the daily newspaper as if they were gospel. It was the golden age of trust in media, heralded by a “so it should be written, and so it should be taken as truth” mentality.

Fast forward from the ’70s and ’80s to a period with a new dynamic characterized by the saying: “Don’t believe everything you read.” Yet, the trust in media remained high until recently, when the shift to the “fake news” phenomenon took root and started spreading.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 47% of people today trust the news media at a time when engagement with news continues to explode. Russian hackers. AI-generated content. Citizen journalism. Clickbait.

What’s a PR pro to do?

As the media world changes and trust declines, there’s tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this new world order of media relations. As news beat “creep” continues, with reporters forced to cover numerous and formerly disparate beats, smart PR pros are expanding relationships with journalists they might not have had interest in previously.

Beyond that, there’s an even bigger opportunity to capitalize on, with other experts who can place stories in news aggregation and contribution sites. Consider this: Today, Forbes is driven more by contributors than staff reporters, making apparent the benefits of a new approach to modern media relations. While a well-researched story in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times continues to be meaningful, surrounding a story with experts and micro-influencers can carry just as much weight in your category. In fact, taken in the aggregate, it could actually have more impact against your priority audiences over time.

In the beer world, we routinely look for dietitians and nutritionists who could be helpful to tell an ingredient story. In the recent beer wars attack Anheuser-Busch lobbed against us over corn syrup, we successfully marshaled nutritionists and other craft brewers to help refute the misleading suggestion that corn syrup was somehow bad for you.

Convincing drinkers that corn syrup is used as a fermentable sugar and isn’t found in the finished product was helpful to quickly refute the misleading claims of others.

Professors, bloggers, and experts across a wide variety of fields can be used to write articles that have reach and impact today that didn’t as easily exist in the past. The important thing is to be above board on any paid relationship, if one exists, and to get creative in your use of experts to help your company advance its narrative with credibility, aggregate reach, and impact.

If you think outside the box and take advantage of the new opportunities that exist within the evolving world of media relations, your goals – and subsequent results – can be as impactful as ever.

Pete Marino is chief public affairs and comms officer at MillerCoors, as well as president of the Tenth and Blake Beer Company.

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