How I Got Here: Media Minefield’s Kristi Piehl on why authenticity reigns in the age of AI

Kristi Piehl shares how she stays challenged and innovative.

Kristi Piehl

Kristi Piehl, a former Emmy Award-winning TV news reporter, founded Media Minefield in 2010, a renowned PR agency known for its story-centric marketing approach. Under her leadership, it’s been named a Best Place to Work five times and Piehl herself recognized as one of Minnesota’s 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders. 

Beyond her professional success, she’s deeply involved with her alma mater, Bethel University, where she serves on the board of trustees and is one of the founders of The 25, a program empowering students. The founder also hosts the Flip Your Script podcast and delivers keynote speeches on leveraging social media for business success.

My first profession was: 

For 12 years, I was a working journalist reporting and anchoring for television stations from Sioux Falls, SD to Dayton, OH to Minneapolis, MN. I saw firsthand how public relations professionals tried to gain earned media attention for their clients. I knew there was a better and more effective way for brands to work with the media and tell their stories. After an unexpected layoff in 2008, I founded Media Minefield with the goal of innovating the public relations industry. 

The moment I’m proudest of in my entire career is when I:

My proudest moment is when Media Minefield won its first Best Places to Work Award. I aim to make Media Minefield the gold standard for agencies as it relates to flexibility, health, innovation, diversity, belonging and employee development. From implementing policies like 4M (the 4-day workweek mindset, which is our version of the 4-day workweek) to paid one-month sabbaticals and paid time-off for volunteering in the community through our Miners Serve program, I am most proud of the awards we’ve won as a company where our employees confirm they are proud of our culture and the company is living our purpose of positively impacting lives. 

The most underrated skill in my profession is:

Creating quality content quickly that benefits an audience and achieves the client’s goals. Most often, that doesn’t mean distributing a press release to share news. It’s about finding a story and connecting it with what a journalist at a particular outlet is looking for, positioning our clients as the experts on that topic and in their industry with a clear message.

When it comes to social media, staying on top of the trends, being nimble to adapt strategy and sharing strategic content is crucial. We manage social media accounts for executives across a variety of industries at Media Minefield and have seen first-hand how a leader’s positive online presence impacts a company’s bottom line. The key is to create a unique strategy that is authentic, transparent and engaging versus putting out content that is generic or out of touch with the key audience.

One way I stay creative and motivated is:

Learning keeps me challenged and in an innovative mindset. I’m currently in a master’s program and learning from professors, our assigned materials and other students. Having a diverse network of colleagues to tap into helps ensure my motivation and creativity is influenced by others’ lived experiences and different perspectives on business. 

I also spend time mentoring female entrepreneurs and young women at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. I am motivated to give back and lift up the next generation of female leaders and help ensure underrepresented communities have a seat at the table.

The key to excellence in storytelling is:

Understanding your audience. Knowing who you are communicating with allows you to create powerful content and stories for those individuals. Part of understanding your audience is knowing how and where they consume information. If your key audience is industry leaders on LinkedIn or potential employees on Instagram, don’t spend your time creating trendy videos for TikTok. You can also tell the same story and adapt it for the audience and social media platform. 

Be sure you are telling stories that resonate across multiple mediums like earned, owned and paid media. Regardless of which platform you are using and who you are speaking to, make sure you’re also communicating in an authentic way. In this rapidly evolving age of AI-generated content, authenticity is more important than ever. 

One way I maintain my work-life balance is:

Our Four-Day Mindset at Media Minefield allows me to have time for my family, my company and myself. This flexibility is key in looking for harmony between our personal and professional lives. 

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.



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