Millennials have reinvented how companies approach food PR and marketing. Today’s hungry Millennials fork over a higher share of their income on food and beverage purchases than any other generational cohort. And within the next decade, Millennials will be outspending generations before them as they fill real and virtual shopping carts.

The biggest differentiator between the food-buying trends of this generation and others is that Millennials prioritize authenticity and meaning. These core values have informed their buying decisions and turned them into choosy consumers. They don’t back brands — they back the meaning behind brands. For them, kicking back with a pint of locally sourced ice cream churned by an employee-owned startup feels better than chowing down on the big-name staples older generations prefer.

Woman eating ice cream or sorbet from a mug

How can marketers develop messaging that resonates with Millennials, then? The secret lies in crafting community PR and marketing campaigns that ring true — not stale. For Millennials, authenticity equates to value. But one report found that over half of respondents felt that less than 50% of brands create authentic content. Brands that step up to the plate with a hyper-focused community PR game plan that showcases authenticity are more likely to succeed.

“What’s a food PR and marketing strategy with a heavy community angle?” you ask. Essentially, community PR is an approach to establishing a strong, legitimate presence in a certain community of Millennials. The community doesn’t need to be geographic. In the digital age, virtually everyone is a member of online communities that span the globe, and, thanks to COVID-19, people in every demographic are connecting digitally now more than ever.

Here are a few ways you can integrate community PR into your game plan to build stronger connections with Millennial food buyers:

1. When it comes to influencers, don’t go big.

Every community has influencers, but they probably fall outside the traditional definition of the word. When celebrities with huge followings tout products, they’re unlikely to demonstrate the kind of authenticity Millennials crave. Instead, look for respected community members who have an impact on their followers — even if their follower count is much smaller.

Macro-influencers might get your message out to more people, but there’s no promise those people are actually listening. When smaller community influencers share a message, however, it’s generally more trusted. Think quality over quantity when it comes to including influencers in your community PR strategy.

2. Match your brand to the right communities.

To make waves in any community, you have to make sure that the audience you’re targeting is the right fit for your brand. Think about whether you can realistically imagine the members of your target community using your product or service in their lives. If that idea seems far-fetched, you’re likely targeting the wrong group. And think about what your brand stands for overall: If the community doesn’t share those values, it could be a bad fit.

3. Get experiential from time to time.

Experiential marketing can throw your community PR strategy into hyperdrive — and just because in-person events are temporarily on the back burner that doesn’t mean you should forgo creating experiences altogether.

Online communities were ubiquitous before COVID-19 — but they’re especially so during the pandemic. People crave exclusive digital opportunities to meet others who share their interests. Your brand can host these types of virtual events and facilitate real connections. Discover where fans congregate online and plan a unique virtual experience to boost buyer bonds.

Communities were digital long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has created an enormous appetite for virtual connections. Meeting Millennials where they already are within their online communities allows you to show off your authentic side in a way that’ll build trust among these belief-driven buyers. Find the right influencers, match up with the right groups, and bring people together digitally — even if they’re far apart geographically. You’ll capitalize on Millennial food trends and emerge as a go-to brand.