A good public relations strategy doesn’t just involve sending out media releases. In fact, media releases are just a small part of an effective pr campaign. According to Brian Solis, author of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, public relations is about engaging and relating to your target audience. Simply put, to get good pr, you have to focus on building and maintaining relationships with current and potential customers.

This is where Facebook comes in. Facebook encourages open communication between you and your target audience. By participating in the social network, you allow consumers to think of you as a friend and less as a cold, faceless corporation. But, to keep this friend status takes work.

You have to come up with relevant content. Small Biz Trend Blogger Lisa Barone writes that a company’s success on Facebook is directly tied to “creating new content designed to get a reaction.” The best status updates are those that get people to comment. To get comments, Barone suggests you: Ask questions. Make a statement and ask people to “like” it if they agree. Or, create a poll so people can click their preference.

Use Contests. People like winning stuff. So do their friends. Hold a contest and automatically you’ve got more people checking out your company’s page and what you’re all about. Contests can also get you extra media attention. In August, one of our clients, Altura Credit Union, ran a Facebook contest via status update. The winner posted on Altura’s wall, thanking Altura and saying he had given his prize (two tickets to a Taylor Swift concert) to his sister, who had supported him when he was going through a particularly bad time. This month, an article about the winner and Altura was featured in Credit Union National Association. It’s great pr for Altura and all they had to do was create a Facebook contest. Act like a real Facebook friend. People won’t trust you unless you interact with them and allow them to interact with you. Part of that interaction means accepting criticism. You can’t delete every negative post or make it so people can’t post on your wall. You have to be willing to share the negative as well as the positive. And, as long as you respond quickly to negative feedback, you’ll be able to diffuse the comment before any real damage is done. Finally, Make time for Facebook. Using Facebook as a pr tool is pointless if you don’t update content regularly. People will cease to care you exist if you’re not constantly creating new content and reacting to feedback. If you don’t have time to update, hire someone to do it for you. The next time you’re developing a public relations strategy, don’t forget to throw Facebook into the mix. Oh, and friend Echo-Factory. We’re building relationships too.