As part of my role at Communications Management, I spend a good deal of time analysing and offering advice to clients on adopting the right social and digital media approaches. I also recently conducted research into our own digital capabilities in the company, in order to identify ways we can keep pushing forward, increasing the breadth and depth of our knowledge. As communications professionals in this digital age, there is a constant pressure to be at the cutting edge of comms technology, and we get excited by the possibilities of the latest in social or digital media, the latest communication tools.
As important as it is to maintain a robust knowledge of and strategy for new communications technologies, there are some tried-and-tested tools that we must not sideline in the process. In the busy world of public relations, it can often be quicker, easier and therefore very tempting to email rather than call that journalist, or Skype rather than meet up with a client. As a consultancy, our time is precious and we all strive to do the best job, most efficiently, but I'm finding more and more, that time spent face-to-face with my contacts is well worth the investment.
Face time is crucial in any business, and especially in ours. We pride ourselves on our strategic, in depth and targeted work - whether in a high profile media relations campaign or in stakeholder engagement, or in any of the other kinds of work we do for our clients. Whatever the brief, it all boils down to relationships. Relationships with the media, with opinion formers, with government, with our clients, their community, their influencers, their peers and their customers. Relationship building is at the heart of what we do and to do it well, we need to ensure we get the whole picture, which is near-impossible from only online contact. Tone of voice, personality, off-the-record knowledge and body language are all vital and can only be gained by building a personal, trusting relationship offline.
That's not to say it's easy. With the daily influx of emails and texts, it is all too simple to stay behind a screen, and sometimes that's fine. But I, for one, will be pushing myself to step away from the technology and make more coffee dates.