Matthias Berninger | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Matthias Berninger

SVP Public & Government Affairs
Bayer
Germany

 

 

Matthias Berninger walked into the top public affairs job at life sciences company Bayer in January this year, and straight into a storm. The German multinational’s acquisition of US agriculture giant Monsanto last year – along with its headline-grabbing weedkiller, RoundUp – looks set to dominate the firm’s engagement with its policy and political stakeholders at a local, European and global level for some time.

Berninger, a former German Green party politician himself, is no stranger to the cut and thrust of front-line politics around controversial topics, but his decision to suspend FleishmanHillard from its work with Bayer/Monsanto after the alleged data breach this spring shocked many in the communications industry, in-house and in agencies. Whether that move will prove to have been prudent or heavy-handed remains to be seen, but Berninger’s influence within the firm has been quickly cemented.

Before joining Bayer, Matthias Berninger held a variety of senior comms roles at Mars, including global public policy director, VP corporate affairs, and VP public affairs. 

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Monsanto's downfall.

What do you love about this industry?
The versatility and ability to work with taking different perspectives.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
Lack of core values.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
To tame the personal encroachment of digital advertising and communications including how technology promotes hate and divide.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Cycling.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
“New Power” by Henry Timms and Jeremey Heimans; “Factfulness” by the late Hans Rosling.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
More relaxed.