The PR behind “Making a Murderer”

Written by: Meghan Lynch, AAE of Thorp School District


There is no doubt that Netflix’s original series “Making a Murderer” is a hot topic for the media. For those who are not familiar with the series “Making a Murderer”, it is a ften episode documentary following Wisconsin’s Steven Avery, who is charged with murder.

Murder and crime shows are very popular on TV and in the media, and Netflix had created one of the most popular and most talked about murder mysteries. But why is this particular show so successful? The answer is PR.

The series is not just a murder mystery, it is a PR campaign. Beth Adan, from PR Daily, stated there are 3 PR lessons that can be learned from “Making a Murderer”. The following three lessons are necessary PR steps when promoting a client, and Netflix used them while representing Steven Avery.

1. Take all the time you need.

When creating a PR campaign it is important to take all the time you need. You must remember that it can take months or years to change public perception. You must also make sure you are as prepared as possible, and know every detail about your client and their needs.

Netflix writer-directors Moira Demons and Laura Ricciardi followed the Steven Avery case and created the series over the course of ten years. They proved that great work takes time.

2. Create a hook

When promoting a client you need a hook. What will grab the audience’s attention and make them listen to you? PR professionals usually do this with a thought-provoking headline or question. “Making a Murderer”, that title is the hook.

Throughout the series viewers are brought back to the title by constantly questioning weather or not Steven Avery is a murderer, or did someone frame him to be a murderer

3. Add a human element

24797577Having a human element in any PR campaign is extremely important. It is usually done by having contests, giveaways, polls, etc.

The human element in the Netflix series was all the interviews with Steven Avery, his family, the police, and the victim’s family. It showed the emotional impact the trial had on everyone. Beth Adan explains how the human aspect is what drives the desire to know more about the Steven Avery case, and keeps people watching and following him in the news.


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