Maybe it's just me, but it seems that those in the PR profession often forget that there's more to public relations then media relations. True a large part of our job is to reach out to media to get our message heard, but sometimes we forget who the audience is. Ultimately it's the consumer, not the reporter.

I realize what I just said completely disregards the fact that a story has to be interesting to a reporter before a consumer can hear it, but bear with me.

For PR people the big pay off is the article in the New York Times or the segment on Good Morning America. Big national media will have big flashy ad values to show clients, but what our industry somtimes fails to remember is it's what that article or segment will do for the business that's truly important. What is the media coverage trying to achieve?

The simple answer is to increase business. What story are you telling the consumer that will make them buy your product or visit your destination? And, if media relations is a way to talk to your consumer might there not be other ways?

Obviously, media relations is a key component of any PR plan but other ways to speak to consumers need to be considered. In many cases social media should be another key component.

Right now I only see large established companies like Dell and Urban Outfitters catching the social media bug. Perhaps it's because they have more resources, but smaller companies need to realize that even with a smaller audience and budget social media can still be valuable.

If you are a local women's clothing store in Milwaukee there has to be some Facebook group of Milwaukee fashionistas you could target. If you're in the tourism industry surely you'd want to target people who list traveling as one of their hobbies.

The bottom line is the more you engage your customers the better chance you'll have of increasing business, but you have to be strategic. Facebook and Twitter are not right for everyone. We need to remember, today's world is all about communication and building conversations and you don't have to be on a major network to do it.


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