By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
If you want to be an effective PR professional, knowing how to build relationships is essential. It runs the gamut from clients to reporters to community, business and industry leaders. But sometimes I run into people who mistake using technology as the prime way to relationship build. They’ll say “Oh, I sent them an email” or “I Tweeted, texted or Facebooked them.” And they might add that they’re frustrated because they can’t seem to connect with the other person no matter how many contacts there have been.
The thing to keep in mind is that tiny bits and bites of information and electronic contacts rarely build a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great tools to use, but relationship building is really about getting to know who THEY are; what are their likes/dislikes, what’s their job/company like; what’s their history, who are they as a person? It means you take the time to find out about them; maybe doing some initial research online to get a better idea of who they are and some clues as to what you can talk about when you’re not directly discussing business. Then, it’s always a good idea to actually talk to them (as in on the phone or, even better, in person when it’s possible). Online communication may be faster, but an occasional or even regular conversation is guaranteed to be more valuable.
So the next time you’re tempted to use technology to communicate with someone, think twice. Maybe it is OK, but how long has it been since you actually talked? Would it be better to schedule a meeting or pick up the phone? Keep that in mind as you build relationships throughout your PR career.