Relationships: Face-to-Face

A key part of the public relations field is not only keeping relationships organizations already have, but building new ones as well. It is easy to say that we have relationships with people with all of the social media outlets available to us, but something many people might forget is that it is important to have face-to-face relationships-not just quickly-typed sentence relationships.

ComPRhension blog talks about how holding events is still a good way to build relationships in their post “Community Organizing” And Public Relations: Hot To Build Face-To-Face Communications. They used President Barack Obama as an example because he came out of college and immediately started holding events, town hall meetings, rallies and more to get the community involved and make face-to-face relationships. The grassroots community organization techniques he used helped him build platforms to work off of and have engaged communities.

Today with all of the social media being used, people tend to lose their face-to-face communication skills. It started to become an issue when people who weren’t in the communications business could no longer be comfortable holding a conversation. It has now reached a point where PR professionals would rather send an email than make a phone call simply to avoid the conversation. This is a huge problem. We are supposed to be the PUBLIC RELATIONS professionals, who can talk about anything, bring up good points, communicate well, hold a good presence, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It is our job to have in-person, live relationships- am I the only one noticing this problem?!

So, I suggest that those PR professionals who find themselves in this position, or slowly moving toward this way of communication, admit it to yourself and take action. Plan an event! If you plan something that your organization and its stakeholders will attend, you will be forced to meet the people you know as “@_____.” Another good way to talk face-to-face, ComPRehension suggests, is being part of a “meet-up group” for associations or like-minded individuals.

If you simply cannot stay away from the tweets and Facebooking, use them as a tool to set up an event. Hold a “tweet-up” or “twestival,” gatherings of Twitter followers. Make an event on Facebook for a gathering. Find some way to use the social media offered to us to enhance our communication skills, don’t use it as an easy way out.

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8 Responses to Relationships: Face-to-Face

  1. ekozak says:

    I completely agree with the need to put a face with a name, even in a socially-mediated world. A co-worker of mine recently experienced this first hand. She attended a media event in New York sponsored by the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. The event brought together PR professionals and travel industry writers and editors.

    Prior to the event, my co-worker had reached out to a publication on many different occasions, all with no success. After she met a particular editor in person, she immediately received responses via email and even was referred to other sources. Although it is sometimes difficult to justify spending money to travel to media events, in this case my co-worker felt tangible benefits from her presence.

    Additionally, my co-worker can now use social media to keep in contact with the professionals she met through tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter and she can further the relationship despite being thousands of miles away.

  2. sclarke says:

    This post was very interesting to read. It is so easy to forget that being a PR professional is all about building relationships. Now with twitter, facebook, myspace and other social media websites, it is more convenient to sent a tweet or wall post. I sometimes contemplate getting rid of my facebook and myspace, only to force me to pick up the phone and make a call. However, why not do both? Social networking is a key component in our line of industry but we should be able to have a balance. We can email AND make phone calls.

    I liked how Obama was used as an example. He built his reputation by face to face communication. As PR professionals, we can all use this example to go out and build our own relationships.

  3. mkuhl says:

    I really enjoyed reading this blog and all of the ideas and concerns you have. I think that you have a very good point that while times are changing and we are constantly getting more and more tech-savvy, there is still a need for face-to-face communication. With Blackberries, iphones, e-mail, texting, Twitter, facebook, etc. the chances of that happening seems slim to me. Sadly, I don’t see face-to-face communication getting any more common in the future, but I hope I’m wrong.

  4. amarker says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. Social media such as facebook and twitter are simply tools we should use to enhance our messages, it does not make up the entire umbrella that PR is. And it isn’t just our profession and social media, its everywhere. Forget racking up the travel expenses for meetings when video conferencing will do. No need for handshakes! And it isn’t just in the professional world either. Our personal lives have gone so tech savvy and impersonal. Gone are the days when a guy asks for your number and calls, say hello to the text messages. (okay not all, but you get the point). The need for face-to-face encounters and actual communication is vital and essential to truly build relationships in and out of PR.

  5. kinoshita says:

    I enjoyed your post, Gansar. I agree that a key aspect, if not the key aspect, of our job as PR professionals is to establish and maintain relationships, and we haven’t put as much time and energy into fostering those relationships face-to-face. It’s easier to shoot an e-mail, post or tweet. While social media and all it encompasses has been a shiny new tool in our toolbox- and beneficial for sure- it has its time and place. Social media outlets are great mediums to connect people and start relationships, but it shouldn’t end there. Like all relationships, to progress to the next level in the relationship there needs to be face-to-face communication. There are times when an ocean may be separating us from them and meeting up is not as practical, but what is our excuse when our clients or publics are twenty minutes away? In a nutshell, let’s get back to basics. It’s about human contact not just interaction. PR professionals need to find a balance between the two.

  6. bgansar says:

    ekozak- that is the perfect example! And I didn’t even think of making the point that it does give you incentive to travel to events! Glad that your co-worker makes good use of it all.

    sclarke- there are many times in a day that I wish I could just erase all of my social media tools too, but we just have to remember they are TOOLS, not lifestyles.

    mkuhl- I think it’s sad that you don’t see the real-life encounters getting more common, it can only be at the fault of ourselves. Take it as your responsibility to make sure they continue and grow.

    amarker-Im glad you got the point that these things are used to enhance our messages. Plus I love your point that relationship building has been lost outside of PR as well. Pathetic- I think yes.

    kinoshita-Human contact-perfect way to put it. I like the point of social media can be a starting point, but making sure to build on it from there.

  7. bihrig says:

    I’m so glad you wrote a post on the need for face-to-face interaction. One of my problems with the Internet and e-mail is the lack of face-to-face time people have. While it is easy to shoot an e-mail to a client or friend it is so impersonal. Especially, as PR predictors we rely on relationship building. Strong relationship building can’t happen through a keyboard and computer screen. Face-to-face relationships must be maintained. I recognize the fact that e-mail is a time saver, but how can we truly get to know people through e-mail. You can learn so much about a person when you first meet them in person. You would never do a job interview via e-mail because personality and presence says a lot about someone. PR professionals should especially understand the importance of not relying on virtual relationships. Building and maintaining a personal face-to-face relationship is vital to PR professionals work.

  8. bgansar says:

    birhrig-I am glad you understand how important it is and you feel the same frustration that I do with the lack of personal relationships. Some people just don’t see the need for it which is terrible, as long as PR practitioners get it I guess that’s all that matters for now.

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