Over the last decade, consumers have learned the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. They scan and bag their own groceries, pump their own gas, and serve themselves at restaurants from coolers or a buffet line.

Consumers also have become their own music producers, creating custom MP3 mixes from iTunes; their own retail outlets through eBay; and one-person TV stations with YouTube. Social media and cheap Web access makes everyone a content provider.

So it was inevitable, perhaps, that consumers would also come to realize that they don't need traditional media to consume the product and services information that used to use media as its channel.

With the rise of search engines, Wi-Fi, and a DIY mindset, today's consumers are more empowered than ever before. They not only believe that they're entitled to information but also have unprecedented access to information on a global scale.

An increasing number of consumers turn first to the Internet when they want to make a purchase—even if the product will be bought offline.

That's why any PR strategy focused solely on media gatekeepers is missing a large piece of the market. While there's still value in sending your message via traditional media, more and more prospective customers are doing their own research online, bypassing newspaper, magazines, radio, and TV completely.

Here are five tips for creating successful direct-to-consumer PR:

1. Think like a consumer

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Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications (www.DreamSpinnerCommunications.com) and has over 20 years of corporate and nonprofit experience at senior-exec levels. Reach her via "gail at dreamspinnercommunications dot com."

Premium Plus members:  Don't miss our upcoming 90-minute online seminar with Gail, Direct-to-Consumer PR happening September 11th at 12pm Eastern.