Seeing a Different Side of the “Public” in Public Relations

Airplane Descending for LandingA few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to go on my very first business trip on behalf of my client.  I was excited for all of the expected reasons- going to a part of the country I hadn’t been to before, getting a few days to work outside of the office (can you really blame me when summer is just around the corner?), etc. However, the trip also ended up being an incredible learning experience because it introduced me to a side of public relations that I really hadn’t experienced before, and it did a great job of expanding my personal definition of the field.

To give a brief overview of why I ended up in Denver, last year my client Downy launched the Touch of Comfort program with the goal of delivering 10,000 handmade quilts to hospitalized children.  It almost goes without saying that the success of this program LARGELY depends on the involvement of consumers, especially the ones that quilt.  While Downy Touch of Comfort has been covered in all types of media, we recently decided to take a more local approach and have a presence (in the form of a booth) at some regional quilting festivals, starting off with the Denver National Quilt Festival.

After four days of getting to speak directly with consumers who really, truly cared when they heard about what we were trying to do, I was convinced that we, as PR professionals, tend to get a little tunnel-visioned when it comes to our profession.  We (and often our clients) get so wrapped up in media and the next big “hit”, that we sometimes forget that there are other ways of getting our message in front of our target audience.  That isn’t to say that media isn’t very important- many of the quilters that I met said that they had already heard about the program through a bunch of our placements.  But PR isn’t all about the media.  At the end of the day, it’s about creating a meaningful connection between your client and the people that they want to be in front of and sometimes a direct interaction can be more beneficial than casting a wide net and hoping the message sticks.  In other words, quality over quantity (and that’s not something you hear very often!)  As PR pros it’s our job to be as creative as possible when it comes to reaching your client’s “public.”

I’d love to hear if any of you have done something similar and had awesome results like we did.  Do you ever bypass the media to get right to your target audience?  Let me know in the comments!

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