Why Relationships (the in person kind) Still Matter

One of the very first lessons I learned in my career in PR was about the value of building relationships. (Thank you Alison Durant and Jamie Kelly, experts in this field). I learned quickly that the sooner I got to know the audiences I was trying reach, the more quickly I could land a result, make an impression or solidify myself as a resource. I remember the  horror stories (particularly back in the dot com days and yes, I’m that old) of young PR professionals being asked to pitch everyone and anyone on their client’s latest and greatest website, widget or “set of solutions.” Naturally, this lack of targeted outreach led to a backlash of angry journalists being harassed (their words, not mine) by junior PR folks pitching them technologies that fell completely out of their coverage area. I knew I never wanted to be included in the case study of “junior PR gone bad” and I was fortunate to work for an agency that didn’t subscribe to this non-strategic approach to PR.   I made a conscious effort to genuinely read what journalists were writing about, the kinds of resources used in their stories, their hot buttons and as a result, I established myself as a resource who understood what they covered, what they wanted and figured out a way to offer my clients’ expertise in a relevant and meaningful way. With that as a foundation, I found an opportunity to meet up, face to face and learn more about them – find out about their kids, where they lived and in some cases, discover a shared passion for karaoke! (True story)  The same approach applied to new business prospects and analysts and colleagues. I took the time to get to know them. Personally and professionally.

Today, we are fortunate to have access to so much more information about the audiences we are trying to reach through the wonderful world of social media. And while this new world of insight makes it a little easier to “know” our audiences from the comfort our desks, I will argue that nothing beats the opportunity to sit down, face to face, and engage in real conversation. It is from those meetings I have learned the most about people and business and solidified some of the longest lasting professional relationships I have today. I encourage my fellow PR professionals to remember that relationships still matter– and not just the relationship you have over the computer but the one that you can have in a coffee shop, at a tradeshow or during a client dinner.   Particularly now, working as a consultant trying hard to balance work and family and the occasional “me” time, its easy to forget how important it is to get out of my office and spend quality face time with the audiences that matter most.  But I know from experience, it will make a world of difference. 

Is it about time for us to meet up for coffee?   Let me know! @sarahbethmurray

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