New Insights into the Processes, Motivations Driving Media Relations

Interested in the trends and issues that media relations practitioners are facing today? The we encourage you to check out the recently published study “Managing the Media: Corporate Media Relations Officers and the Evolving Media Landscape.”

For the study, the authors surveyed 211 corporate media relations officers and conducted 12 follow-up interviews to examine the role media relations officers play in shaping a company’s information environment.

The study works to shed light on the ways media relations officers share their company’s messages, as well as highlight the vital role PR practitioners play in shaping external messaging. Additionally, per the authors, it provides new insights into the processes and motivations that drive corporate interactions with the media.

As shared by the authors, “while prior research has explored the influence of CEOs, CFOs, and investor relations officers (IROs) on firm disclosure, we identify media relations officers as crucial, yet previously unexamined, contributors who play a key role in shaping a company’s public image and overall information environment.”

Interesting right?

Check out these five key points from the study (and be sure to download the entire paper for full details):

Media Relations Officers have Earned a Seat at the Table
According to those surveyed, more than 85% of media relations officers shared they are “very involved in shaping firm messaging related to the announcement of a merger or acquisition, a negative article in the traditional media, or changes to the executive team.”

Additionally, come earnings time, media relations officers closely collaborate with senior executives with more than 95% of respondents indicating that it is very likely for a senior executive to review the content they produce related to earnings news or legal/regulatory issues.

What this means for automotive PR professionals: use your seat to listen and develop a thoughtful, comprehensive media strategy that reflects the perspectives of the company’s key leadership.

Media Relations Officers Understand Stakeholders’ Interests …
The report shared that for six out of the eight social issues surveyed— gender equality, racial justice, LBTQ+ rights, labor unions, reproductive rights, and gun violence – less than 30% of media relations officers believe that their company’s stakeholders have a very significant interest in the company engaging in the public conversation.

Further, even for the two highest-rated social issues – climate change and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – just 35% and 46% of media relations officers, respectively, indicate that their company’s stakeholders exhibit a very significant interest in the company engaging in the public conversation.

What this means for automotive PR professionals: we have the unique ability to show our value by offering the stakeholders perspective to key company leadership.

… And Create Communications Based on Their Interests
Media relations officers report that investor interest is the most influential factor in determining whether a firm discloses information related to a social issue. According to the authors, this finding is consistent with prior research done regarding if/how investor demand influences ESG (environmental, social & governance) disclosure.

What this means for automotive PR professionals: key messaging is a vital tool in any PR practitioner’s toolbox. Understanding the perspective of a company’s key stakeholders enables you to thoughtfully craft messaging that resonates and responds to your stakeholders’ key issues.

Traditional News Outlets Reign Supreme
The study found that even with the insurgence of new media outlets and platforms, traditional news outlets are the most sought-after form of coverage. According to participants, media relations officers perceive The Wall Street Journal as the media outlet with the single greatest influence on a company’s image, followed by The New York Times.

What this means for automotive PR professionals: even with the rise of digital and non-traditional media, auto PR pros can’t count traditional media outlets like Automotive News, Fleet Owner and WardsAuto out just yet! Developing relationships with key news media outlets should still be a topline goal in our PR campaigns.

Social Media Stats
Almost all the surveyed companies – 98.6% – have at least one social media account, with LinkedIn being the most common, followed by Twitter (now known as X) (88.4%) and Facebook (80.2%). According to the report, this differs from prior research on social media which had primarily focused on Twitter. According to respondents, LinkedIn is now considered the “social media platform with the greatest influence on a company’s image, surpassing all the others by a wide margin.”

What this means for automotive PR professionals: with LinkedIn holding greater influence, automotive PR pros should be allocating proper resources to the platform.

Interesting in reading more? Access the full “Managing the Media: Corporate Media Relations Officers and the Evolving Media Landscape” here.

Author: Adriana Van Duyn

Adriana is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with more than 18 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across the automotive, mobility and industrial sectors. She has also assisted clients on numerous PACE Award entries.

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