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Direct-to-Consumer PR Reflects Power of Do-It-Yourself

by Gail Martin  |  
September 2, 2008

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 ( 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.

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  • by Kevin Tue Sep 2, 2008 via web

    For your #1 point, can I address two audiences with one release? My training (many moons ago) would have me follow a traditional press release for use on PR Web assuming this is going to the media professional. My blog postings on the same subject become my consumer digestable story. Is there a more efficient route here?

  • by J. Geibel Sat Sep 6, 2008 via web

    Nothing new here, and many of the same concepts are applied to any PR program, including B-to-B.

    Th premise that consumers are diligent "problem solvers" is a stretch - they often are highly influenced by advertising, trendiness and promotional campaigns. This is one of the reasons why 80% to 90% of new product introductions fail.

    The role of "social media" in both PR and marketing exaggerated. Much of the social media gets their news from conventional media - which in turn get their information from the wireservices and the PR firms.

    I monitor Google News (which covers 4,000 news outlets including blogs and forums) for keywords on client campaigns, and the blogs and other social media are nothing more than an echo chamber for conventional news outlets - to an extent that is stunning at times. The quality of information on them is often very poor.

    It's not clear who the DIY emphasis of this article is intended for. If it is the company that makes or provides the product or service, they need to follow conventional PR practices even if social media are included in the mix. Considering the PR skills are not typically found in most companies, they would need professional support as much as ever. The downside of the DIY approach is that it is often trial-and-error - meaning they will have a lot of trying experiences and make a lot of errors. And about the only thing worse than no PR is to botch the job.

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