In a world that continues to transition toward online conversation, it is more important than ever to remember the value of face-to-face or verbal communication. In public relations, sending an email is a quick and efficient way to communicate with clients, colleagues and the media. But is this convenient tool relied upon too much?
If you don’t think so, consider this:
• Face-to-face interaction helps keep your clients top of mind: When meeting with a reporter to discuss client activities and ideas, it’s important to not only discuss what your clients have been up to, but also what the reporter has on the docket. By asking reporters questions about what they’re working on or how they prefer to receive story ideas, you’ll gain insight that can be used when pitching your client’s story down the road. The more time you spend interacting face to face, the more they’ll keep you in mind when looking for their next source. Consider meeting with your contacts once per quarter to keep each other in the loop.
• Body language insights: When meeting with a client or reporter in person, it’s helpful to be able to watch his or her body language. Facial expressions offer good insight into if the person you’re conversing with is truly engaged in the conversation or interested in your idea. It’s usually easy to tell if you should continue with your idea or steer the conversation in a different direction. Those social cues are lost when emailing.
• Sparking innovative ideas: As PR professionals, it is rare to walk out of an in-person meeting without at least a few new ideas, whether it is a new angle to pitch for a story or a new blog idea to bring to a client. Bringing people together encourages for more idea generation.
• Emphasize importance: Think to yourself, if this email is getting too long (more than three paragraphs,) it makes more sense to pick up the phone for a quick conversation. And most importantly, if you need to have a tough conversation, always pick up the phone.
In the next week, try challenging yourself to pick up the phone instead of sending an email. Setting up meetings, lunches or coffee shop visits with reporters, clients or your colleagues are great ways to not only maintain current relationships, but build new ones as well.
By meeting more in person or speaking more often on the phone, relationships grow faster than if you simply send an email. In 2013, reevaluate your communications process. Both your business and your clients will benefit from it.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (Johnathan Lyman)